The Ladies of Nymphet Alumni Are Firmly Pro-Piracy
Nymphet Alumni had me at their first ever podcast episode in 2021, a two-part dissection of the rise and fall of Dov Charney’s American Apparel. Their cheeky moinker is a direct reference to the specific early-2010s Tumblr ecosystem that the podcast’s hosts—Sam, Biz, and Alexi—have managed to safely escape. Equal parts cool-girl historians and low-key visionaries, the ladies have expanded their scope of inquiry from nostalgic deep dives to cultural forecasts and trend nomenclature; they were the first to coin the term “Blokette,” a hybrid of coquette fashion and British football garb, and it’s since taken over both Pinterest and the Lower East Side. Hourlong episodes have been dedicated to sub-cultural currents like Apres Ski Chic, Global South-core, and even the latest iteration of moto-mommy fashion via Kylie Jenner’s Khy. So, for this week’s Search History, we slid into their DMs to find out how their fated coalition began (also over DMs) and debate the virtues of various kinds of mac and cheese.
JULIETTE JEFFERS: A/S/L?
SAM CUMMINS: 27/F/Texas.
ALEXI ALARIO: Alexi/F/New York.
BIZ SHERBERT: 26/F/London.
ALARIO: Oops LOL WAIT. 23/F/New York HAHAHA. I’M TOO YOUNG FOR ASL. Idk why in my head I was like A is for Alexi.
JEFFERS: So you all met online, how did that go down? Who slid into whose DM’s?
SHERBERT: Meeee. I think. I don’t really remember but I definitely propositioned them at some point.
ALARIO: I was really taken off guard because Biz and I had never really met but it was kind of like a Cinderella moment. I was like “omg … me… podcast …” Biz really has that vintage music executive type of instinctual charisma, I think she just saw our girl group vision and acted on it.
CUMMINS: Yes, I was super caught off guard but excited because Biz is so brilliant. I think Alexi and I first made contact over email and I was very taken by her use of emoticons.
ALARIO: I was prob like, 75% more kawaii back then. Our communication styles feel like they’ve converged over the past two years, though. Because we have the world’s most active three person group chat of all time. I’m always picking things up from these two… our hivemind grows stronger…
JEFFERS: Speaking of hiveminds… what do each of your TikTok FYPs look like?
ALARIO: I know Sam and I are really similar FYP-wise.
CUMMINS: Yes, it’s true.
ALARIO: A lot of global south content lol, like Brazilian children singing and dancing.
SHERBERT: TikTok logged me out of my main account [for] a couple months so l’ve been using a burner. But I got a new algorithm that way, so it’s mostly British people talking about stuff these days.
ALARIO: I get a lot of Korean and Chinese beauty and lifestyle content about leading edge products products and devices.
CUMMINS: Various Latin American versions of “Jingle Bells” and novelty rappers.
ALARIO: I’m also trying to de-girlify my FYP so I’ve been liking a lot of Fortnite and football content to stay in touch with my masculine side.
CUMMINS: I’ve been getting a lot of Kat Williams comedy clips too for some reason.
ALARIO: There’s only so much ribbon tying on random shit I can take!
CUMMINS: I also keep getting this trend called Tumbette… I’m obsessed with it.
JEFFERS: What is Tumbette?
CUMMINS: It’s a portmanteau of Tumbado and Coquette, a la Blokette…basically coquettifying corridors. I wish we had come up with it ourselves.
ALARIO: This is so amazing bc it’s the first Coquettification trend that didn’t come directly from us. It’s taken on a mind of its own … we are free … it feels like that meme of the Ninja Turtles:
ALARIO: Literally us.
CUMMINS: Now girls across the world are putting bunny ears on Junior H.
JEFFERS: Your influence is truly disseminating. Also, that Tumbette girl’s gloves were everything. All versions of Coquette are now downstream of Nymphet Alumni.
SHERBERT: Heavy is the head!
ALARIO: I love to see young people combining random influences in their fashion. Like, anything to get us away from the over-moodboarded Pinterest stuff!! There is more to life than 90s runway photos.
CUMMINS: Yes! We’re pro-digital piracy, in the sense of remixing a bunch of randomly found scraps of influence in your clothing.
ALARIO: Also pro-physical piracy, i.e. stealing things from the closets of your family members.
JEFFERS: I love that. I am constantly stealing clothes from my dad’s closet, in typical Preppy Handbook fashion. One of my favorite episodes of the pod, by the way.
ALARIO: Ugh yes, intergenerational fashion sharing is everything.
CUMMINS: Omg you’re an OG…
ALARIO: You made it through our audio quality dark age. Thank you for sticking with us!!
JEFFERS: In a recent episode, Sam brought up Gen-Z’s penchant for uniform dressing. What’s the forecast on Gen Z uniforms for 2024? I feel like there’s a real intermingling of the jock/nerd dichotomy: broquette, sexy librarian glasses. Will we ever escape high school?
ALARIO: Yes, the high school movie tropes are only getting more fashion, I fear. I think there was a lull in high school-themed content in the 2010s, it was all really unchic Netflix original styling. But we seem to be revisiting this 2000s-does-70s thing a lot, gym uniforms with white piping, raglan tees, big athletic jackets. Bottoms was a really good example.
CUMMINS: Honestly, I think the next step is gonna be some sort of Village People “trades and professions” type vibe. It’s true that we can’t stay in high school forever. Librarian chic is kind of pointing in that direction. It’s the first “job”-inspired fashion trend I’ve seen in a minute.
ALARIO: LOL YES. We love this. The Carhartt hipster workwear thing is my least favorite iteration, but my dream uniform trend would be aviation-core
SHERBERT: I feel like people will start carrying around like calculators and pencil sharpeners.
ALARIO: This is a really good prediction. It seems like a great way to cope with the fact that the reality of working today for most young people is really anti-fashion. Like, you’re either wearing non-slip shoes at your service job or rolling out of bed to work from home in your pajamas. If you do work in an office, everyone is prob wearing an elevated basics or an Aritzia capsule wardrobe.
JEFFERS: It feels very much like a reaction to most people having what are normally deemed “fake email jobs.” Or you’re working a service job where fashion just doesn’t matter. At least everyone is dressing for the job they want.
ALARIO: LOL. I was just typing that. It kind of gives inner-child fashion. We keep running into this fashion ideology among young people. Where they’re making fashion decisions based on what their younger self would have found cool or exciting.
JEFFERS: True! As older Gen Z is starting to be confronted with the boring reality of work, everyone is coping by pretending we’re in Busytown.
SHERBERT: So cute.
ALARIO: Seems like an improvement upon the “I don’t dream of labor” vibe.
JEFFERS: Anyway, fit check?
SHERBERT: I’m sick in bed but this is one of my fave fits.
ALARIO: Not my best but this is accurate salarygirl drip.
JEFFERS: Two more questions. 1) Money or clout? 2) You’re all southern girls! What’s your favorite southern comfort food?
SHERBERT: 1. Money, so I can buy the fried chicken 2. Fried chicken.
CUMMINS: Literally was about to say the same.
SHERBERT: I don’t want any of the influencer fried chicken I’d get for free with the clout route.
ALARIO: 1. Money … I love foreign currencies in particular … Swiss francs etc… 2. Chicken fried steak with white gravy!!!
CUMMINS: 1. Money, without hesitation, I’m still praying for an entrepreneurial disposition. 2. Pickle-battered fried chicken with a side of baked mac and cheese.
ALARIO: Chills. Except you know how I feel about baked mac and cheese. It’s the biggest schism we have between us, I think.
JEFFERS: Are you a Kraft truther?
ALARIO: I just love a soupy mac!! No breadcrumbs, and stovetop only.
CUMMINS: I need mine so crispy. Minimum four cheeses.
SHERBERT: I’m team baked, too.
CUMMINS: Stay tuned for our potluck.