The Sleaze Shift Is Coming

We had -ussy, we had -ification, and now we will have -sleaze.

Indie sleaze moodboard.

Every year, we look at our tea leaves and make silly little predictions about what the next year might hold in store for us. Will we be wearing sheer tops or feathers? Will we stop drinking caffeine or will we finally see Rebecca Black peg Pete Davidson?

One prediction making its rounds is the entrance of “-sleaze” as a suffix, toppling the crown that “-core” has held onto for the past few years. The idea of “-sleaze” is the opposite of a “-core,” aiming to dress down or disrupt a traditional aesthetic. You may have seen it in the rise of indie sleaze, and you may have partaken in ballerina sleaze. It may not seem looming, but without a doubt, the sleaze shift is coming.

“Sleazes subvert their source material, making it grungier and edgier, rather than attempting to capture the purest essence of an aesthetic, the way ‘-cores’ do,” Biz Sherbert, an editor at a creative agency, told Vice in their 2023 trend forecast.

If 2022 was the year of introducing suffixes to slang, the idea of -core has expanded beyond its original usage, normcore, into any variant of an aspirational lifestyle. Blokecore, gorpcore, cottagecore, ballerinacore, mermaidcore, fairycore. It wasn’t just clothes, it was an overall vibe of life — everyone wanted to embody a very specific aesthetic that came with an equally specific essential shopping list. But many have tired of the increasingly narrow references that -cores have fallen down. So the natural course of action is to change that up.

By definition, sleaze is a reference to something immoral or corrupt. In its usage, we see that manifest by way of pushing against the norm. A few of the introductory suffix sleaze trends involve simple hacks, like the barely-there TikTok eyeliner trend of putting it on and then washing it off, which feels totally ridiculous and unnecessary but does shake up the pattern of applying makeup. Similarly, ballerina sleaze is about taking elements from the inspiration, like tights and tutus, and subverting it with surprises like cutouts or embellishments. The easy way out is to distress it a little. But the sleaze shift will surely bring more interesting visual representations of shaking things up.

Punk rock and metal scenes have been the forefront of sleazes for years, but with the suffixation of slang and the way TikTok disseminates trends like COVID variants, we are ripe for a wider sleazification in 2023. Literally anything could get sleazed in the next year, and I welcome it with joy. Academia sleaze (punk pop, rebranded the way yoga pants became flare leggings). Coastal grandmother sleaze (I don’t really know the specifics, but I want it). Bloke sleaze (just a man, I guess).

Let this be the year of sleaze. I could not be happier to be here.