Tartan miniskirts and tie side crop tops, babydoll dresses and ugly platform sandals, pastel coloured everything and black velvet chokers: the list of signifiers confirming one’s awareness of ‘Clueless’ (and the corresponding decade’s fashion choices) is as long as it is prevalent in east London circa 2015, yet there remains just one piece of arm candy more prominent than shag bands.
Launched in 1994 (a full year before Cher introduced Tai to Elton and two ahead of ‘Wannabe’s release) Casio’s then all black creation was the latter result of G-Shock founder Mr. Ibe’s ‘unbreakable watch’ quest; the ‘pretty tough’ sister brand to Ibe’s initial shatter resistant design.
“My first memory of Baby-G was when I was in primary school,” photographer Eleanor Hardwick tells Clash. “One of my friends had a lilac one and I was always jealous of it. I don’t think I really understood what telling the time was at that point, but it made her look like a sort of badass bionic superhero which was enough to make me envious.”
Hardwick is one of several twentsomething’s, alongside Mushpit founders Bertie Brandes and Charlotte Roberts, Lazy Oaf’s Gemma Shiel and set designer Penny Mills, plus photographers Charlotte Rutherford and Maisie Cousins, to be picked up by the brand to work on a series of special projects this year, part of the Baby-G summer of ‘15 assault.
“I think people are quite into functional fashion right now, mixed in with a bit of 90’s nostalgia,” Eleanor offers of the watch’s appeal today. “Visually, Baby-G doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it echoes the other kind of retro products Casio makes; everyone is playing 80’s Casio keyboards right now, so having the watch to match seems fun.”
Clash Fashion Editor Lola Chatterton reckons likewise of why the brand resonates so well. “A lot of people who wear them now have memories from when they were younger,” she says. “It’s a great watch and they’re super fun.”
On the catwalk the pieces have adorned Sibling (here) and Louise Alsop, for whom Chatterton styled SS15. “Louise’s collection was quite 2000’s and the watch was super popular then,” she explains. “Louise’s girl would definitely wear a Baby-G. It just makes sense.”
Championing both practicality and aesthetics, it’s easy to see why the watch has sustained its reputation; where more traditional ‘women’s watches’ are for the most part limp metal affairs, the Baby-G’s credentials feel fresh and contemporary, even at 21.
If there was a band that characterised young women in the 90’s it was the Spice Girls, and it’s a card Baby-G is clearly playing today, to great effect. In Asia K-Pop sensation Girls’ Generation front the respective campaign, while in the UK they’ve brought in the aforementioned ‘Friends of’ to launch new lines like the Sneaker and Jelly Packs; today sees the arrival of a new birthday zine in collaboration with Anti-Agency.
Titled ‘Pretty Tough Girls’, the publication is a further manifestation of the emoji flaunting, Insta taunting generation for whom Baby-G is now a viable piece of armour. While Lola recalls “begging my mum to buy me a Baby-G” (she was obsessed), today she’s playing dress up with multiple models.
As PTG photographer Olivia Richardson writes on Instagram (beside a post of her new time keeper), “my 12 year old self is v jealous.”
Words: Zoe Whitfield
Images via Facebook/John Doe PR