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Indie Sleaze is a tongue-in-cheek aesthetic that was prevalent from roughly 2006 to 2014. It is a style originating from the mid-late 2000s party scene that grew in popularity on sites like Tumblr and MySpace. Trappings of this aesthetic include high-flash photography, electro-rock dance halls, imprecise eyeliner, old American Apparel ads, mussed up hair and side-swept bangs. Indie Sleaze has many influences from a variety of time periods and mediums: Brooklyn Hipster fashion, '70s/’80s electro-rock music, Pop Art, and Superflat Pop. The rise of Indie Sleaze came to fruition as the McBling & Surf Crush aesthetic were declining and it is often seen as a counter culture reaction to the economic climate of the recession.


Popular visual cues of the era include:

  • American Apparel
  • Glitter
  • Chain necklaces
  • Colored tights
  • Smudged mascara
  • Leather jackets
  • Tight dresses


The music largely associated with the indie sleaze era is a combination of several different genres from different time periods, namely: Indie rock, Britpop, Disco, Electro Pop. The common through line through found throughout much of indie sleaze music is danceability, irony, and a retro sound.


  • Indie Rokkers - MGMT
  • The Power Is On - The Go! Team
  • Disparate Youth - Santigold
  • Let's Dance To Joy Division - The Wombats
  • Walking On A Dream - Empire Of The Sun
  • I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor - Arctic Monkeys
  • We Are Your Friends - Justice, Simian
  • Pursuit Of Happiness - Kid Kudi, MGMT, Rattan
  • Acceptable in the 80's - Calvin Harris
  • Heads Will Roll (A-Trak Remix) - Yeah Yeah Yeahs, A-Trak
  • Bulletproof - La Roux
  • Paper Planes - M.I.A
  • VCR - The XX

Pinterest boards[] by Picsglam


The aesthetic began around 2005 but peaked in popularity from 2008-2010 with many musicians and fashion models incorporating it. This popularity is often attributed to people adopting the style for its optimism during the Great Recession. As it declined in popularity after 2012, the aesthetic began to change, becoming more complex and colorful. In 2021, the aesthetic was popularized online and gained the name "indie sleaze".[1]

The indie band Metric and its singer-songwriter Emily Haines remained active from the 1990s to present. It's an example of how the aesthetic changed after 2013-2014