If you’ve spent any amount of time online in the last couple of years, then it’s likely you’ve come across the term “e-boy” before, usually accompanied by photos or videos of young men with a distinctive shared aesthetic. Teenage TikTok influencers Chase Hudson, Payton Moormeier, and Anthony Reeves are among the e-boy vanguard helping to popularize this look, both on social media and IRL. (Meanwhile, Billie Eilish is probably the most famous e-girl out there right now.)
But even if you’re not a typical member of these young creators’ target audience, it’s possible that something about their style speaks to you, or seems a little familiar. And that’s for good reason: You’re probably remembering how you used to dress as a teenager. Confused? We’ll explain everything there is to know about e-boys.
What is an e-boy?
E-boy is a style that is at once unique to Gen Z, i.e. those born around the year 2000 or after, and also highly reminiscent of fashion choices made by teenagers in the ’90s and early ’00s. Remember scene kids? Skater bois? Pop punk and emo music, and the black and pink-heavy aesthetic that accompanied it? E-boys are all of the above, but make it fashion and Extremely Online. (The “e” stands for electronic.)
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Immensely popular on TikTok, the e-boy aesthetic frequently consists of the kind of baggy streetwear and grunge clothing that was rampant when this writer was growing up, and that’s had a resurgence in the late 2010s. Other key features includes black nail polish and floppy hair that tends to be dyed and parted in the middle, like if somebody from a ’90s boyband decided they were actually emo (although this is more likely influenced by current K-pop artists).
Silver jewelry is also a staple; dangly cross earrings in particular. Rolling your eyes and sticking your tongue out a lot (a riff on ahegao, a visual expression of orgasm depicted in Japanime pornography) is also a part of the subculture.
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Individually, none of these things are new. Fashion, like time, is a flat circle, and each new generation of teens has been known to pick and choose items from their own parents’ youths and incorporate it into their own personal style (this is where the whole vintage T-shirt thing originated, right?).
What is maybe the most interesting thing about e-boys is that they are mish-mashing visible markers that previously denoted different broad social tribes, like “sporty” and “Goth,” to express themselves. For many teens, in the past, belonging meant following one kind of fashion, listening to one type of music, etc. But the kids who have grown up with social media, which flattens and blurs the barriers between different groups, simply wear what they like.
Of course, it may well be that this eclectic swirl of rock n’ roll streetwear will simply become the new restrictive trend that all teens feel they must adhere to…until the next generation comes along to disrupt it.
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