Blast from the Past: 90s Design Trends Making a Comeback


Posted by AllDayShirts on to T-Shirt Color Guides

90s nostalgia has had a huge influence across many sectors of design throughout the 2020s. Graphic and t-shirt design is certainly not exempt and the era’s inspiration is evident everywhere you look.

The 90s may not have been perfect, but they were a simpler time. One where music culture thrived, Bart Simpson was a cult icon, everyone had a Tamagotchi, and people spent significantly more time with one another face to face. The internet was just emerging and social media wasn’t even a blip on the radar.

For many Millennials of today, the end of the 90s represented the end of their childhood. It is unsurprising? that nostalgia for this ?decade has made a powerful comeback in the 2020s as people—now more than ever—reach out for what feels safe and familiar.

Fashion trends have picked up on this nostalgic appetite and incorporated many 90s-reminiscent themes into t-shirts and many other clothing items.

Without further ado, here’s a guided walk-through of the best 90s-themed graphic design trends for tees in 2022:

1. Retro Computer Typography

Computer Typography

One of the most notable trends in 90s-themed graphic designs is the return of retro computer typography. Influenced by the chunky, funky fonts of outdated Windows software, today’s consumers love to see these creative, techno-bit typefaces in their clothing designs.

From harsh Gumzilla to romantic Lagoon Beach, there are a plethora of bold and imaginative retro fonts from the 90s that people still go crazy for today.

2. Dadaism

Dadaism is actually The Avant-Garde French art movement from the 20th century, but the 90s caught onto it in a way that is still culturally evident today.

Characterized by absurdity, chaos, and resistance against war and political violence, Dadaism often took the form of distressed analog collages that design movements of the 90s often echoed.

The subculture of punkhood in the 90s was pretty evident, with moody dark makeup, grunge fashion styles, and a general pushing of boundaries, making the 90s a great time to bring Dadaism back. In 2022, people are returning to the visual and cultural chaos of analogue design.

Torn edges, film photographs, distressed imagery, and dark elements have become synonymous with 90s-themed music, fashion, and graphic design.

3. Clashing Colors

In the 90s, graphic design was still in its early phases of evolution, which meant that the tools and experience needed to produce work were extremely limited. Subsequently, the use of clashing colors and aesthetic imbalance became a hallmark of 90s design trends.

Bright purples and neon orange, bubblegum pinks with electric blue—there was a lot going on. However, in today’s world, people are once again responding well to colors that clash with one another for a bold, controversial look.

4. Nostalgic Iconography

One simple way that graphic designers in 2022 are bringing back the 90s is by weaving some culturally relevant icons into the mix. They don’t have to necessarily be in the same illustration style as the one they were born into. Just having them there can elicit the same sense of 90s nostalgia.

Things like dial-up phones, cassette tapes, Furbies, records, Troll Dolls, and miscellaneous geometry are all icons that encapsulate the 90s mood and remind people of those special, simpler times.

5. Musical Influence

Musical Influence

The 90s was a big decade for music. The iconic MTV program was at peak popularity, with artists like Nirvana, Tupac Shakur, Radiohead, Blur, and Madonna ruling the stage. Rock, pop, and grunge music was seeing a surge of success, and 90s babies miss it.

In an ode to what some people call the “last decade of good music”, graphic designers are incorporating that grungy, earthy, moody musical influence into their designs.

From images of actual artists to simple band name tees, both the OG 90s generation of music fans and the young folk of 2022 are showing lots of love for this iconic decade of music.

6. Distressed Textures

Graffiti, grunge, and rough-on-the-edges trends were a big part of the 90s. Along with the rise of more experimental, less polished design themes, a certain distressed look cropped up in many different areas of both fashion and design.

In 2022, we are seeing a huge comeback in the use of distressed textures and fonts of the 90s. Largely inspired by rock and roll culture, today people are responding well to the grittiness and rawness of the underground music and pop scenes of the 90s.

7. Skateboarding


Skateboarding is extremely popular in 2022. But the people’s love affair with this edgy sport first began to thrive in the 60s and it stayed popular well into the 90s, where many people today associate its origin.

The devil-may-care punk attitude played a hefty role in sport, fashion, and design culture throughout the 90s and 2000s, and now people are craving a time when it was still relatively underground.

Skate-themed tees, shoes, and emblems have become tremendously popular with modern consumers for this reason. The dirtier, the grittier, the more original, the better.

8. Anti-design

A design concept that encompasses the true spirit of 90s trends is anti-design. It was a time of true experimentation and innovation, flexing new ideas and rejecting the ones that no longer served.

The 90s was a time of anti-design. Clashing colors, rowdy prints, raw references to punk culture, and contradictory patterns that simultaneously confuse and delight the human eye were all in style. In the world of design, we are seeing all of these trends and more remain popular amongst consumers.

90s Design Is So Now

The 90s were an interesting time to be alive and an even more interesting time for design.

The incredible design software, sleek online portfolios, and cutting-edge computerized printing techniques we’re so accustomed to now didn’t exist yet. Instead, this era was only starting to use digital design methods in new and exciting ways. This is seen in many of the above styles and perfectly characterizes this decade.

Whether it’s for the childhood memories, the music, the art, or the skateboarding people adore 90s culture, and that’s probably not going to change anytime soon. Any designer creating t-shirt prints and graphics can use these style ideas for inspiration and be right on-trend.

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