There are some Instagram users who only post three photos at once, so as to maintain an immaculately curated grid. There are some Instagram users who don’t follow any rules at all. And then there’s @90sanxiety, whose strict policy of only posting photos that were taken between 1990 and 1999 has earned its creator more than 573,000 followers and counting, including Cara Delevingne and Kim Kardashian, not to mention everyone from Jonah Hill to Shailene Woodley. Since the (mostly) anonymous thirty-something behind the account made his first post in December of 2016, he’s even started to interact with a number of the famous faces who’ve graced his grid.
For those who’ve yet to get lost in scrolling through it, @90sanxiety is essentially a time capsule of the best of the decade in fashion, aesthetics, and pop culture. Plenty of the photos are iconic, but its creator is also indefatigably dedicated to unearthing the delightfully unexpected. “Unplugging is something I’m working on because honestly, most of the time I’m thinking about the account in some capacity or another,” he said. Fortunately, he added, “it really is a lot of fun.” Here, he shares more about his dedication to the decade in his Social Q’s.
How did you decide on your Instagram handle?
Exactly like the name denotes—acute ’90s nostalgia and the anxiety associated with creating content. I tend to have an obsessive nature with things I’m interested in and that definitely played into the name, too.
Do you remember the first photo you posted on the account?
A low-res photo of Gwyneth and Leo posted in December of 2016. It’s still up for anyone willing to scroll to the depths.
When did your following really start to take off?
I think it really was timing. With the increased popularity of ’90s nostalgia, it seemed to happen almost immediately. Right away the account was growing faster than I could keep up with, and since I was relatively new to Instagram, I was constantly scrambling to manage posts and learn about how things worked. I’m definitely still learning.
Where do you tend to source your images?
It usually starts as an idea and then I work my way down to a post. Just me and the internet…
I don’t think hoarding a sort of repository of content would allow me to be as dynamic. I often get asked if I use a post scheduler or have tons of content ready. I don’t. It’s usually done the day before or the same day—that’s when things can get chaotic. I’ll see something cool online or in the news and it’ll inspire me to post about it. My personal life isn’t necessarily connected to the account, but it definitely influences what I post.
Are you sticking with remaining anonymous?
For the most part, yes, but it’s far less anonymous now. I really have no choice as I begin to bridge making clothes and photography with the account. Plus, I’m becoming more comfortable with people knowing it’s me.
What have been some of your most popular posts?
Candid photos of the most popular celebs from that time period will often do very well, but it depends on the photograph. I’m always trying to showcase a certain aesthetic, and at times when I think that something fits it so perfectly and will do well, it does poorly. And then I’ll post something super random and it will go viral. I think it’s about balancing posting what I want to post with what is relevant to followers.
Which of your posts are your personal favorites?
Any posts where I have a rare image that I feel like I’m introducing to Instagram. A lot of my older posts, when the content was still new and gaining in popularity, are my favorite because I remember that even I was tripping out that those photos existed. Recently I posted a scan of a photo of Naomi Campbell in Stockholm from August 1994 that was pretty rare. The photo was flawless. Not only did the aesthetic of the photo look like it was taken in 2019, but Naomi honestly looks like she has barely aged a day. So iconic!
What are some of the most relevant ‘90s looks right now?
Baggy everything, patterns or vibrant colors, goth everything! Cropped tanks and parachute pants, platform slides, studded or bedazzled clothing/accessories, hair dye, shaved heads, or summer bobs. And my personal favorite: workwear.
What trends are you hoping will stay in the ’90s?
Nothing, bring it on! Well, maybe slouch socks will forever rest in peace.
Do you accept submissions?
Not really, but occasionally people will ask or call me out for not posting something that I’ve posted in Stories. There have been a few times where someone has made a good point and I’ve posted what they’ve asked. It’s rare, though. The other day I asked @devonleecarlson on a whim to send a photo of Elle Macpherson that she had posted in her Stories. I randomly reached out and she sent the photo. I found the original and posted it, which was pretty cool.
What’s the weirdest DM you’ve ever gotten?
I often get ones that begin with something like “Hey beautiful…”
Do you read the comments?
Occasionally, but it can get pretty wild. Also, if I make a typo or give incorrect credentials the trolls love to call me out. Thanks to everyone who sends kind messages.
What are your favorite accounts to follow?
How would you describe the ’90s in three emojis?
Is there anything you would never post?
Anything outside of 1990-1999!!!
From the Archives: Best of the ‘90s
Photographed by Michael Thompson “Head to Toe”, September 1993
Photographed by Bruce Weber “High Camp”, November 1997
Photographed by Craig McDean Styled by Michel Botbol “Beat Dwellers”, September 1995
Photographed by Dewey Nicks Styled by Liz Gessner and Michael Botbol “Hillbilly Chic”, January 1994
Photographed by Craig McDean Styled by Michael Botbol “Sweater Girl”, June 1994
Photographed by Art Streiber “Paris Some Like It Hot”, September 1993
“Bosom Buddies”, November 1998 Photographed by Michael Thompson Styled by Joe Zee
“Wild Kingdom”, March 1998 Photographed by Bruce Weber
Christy Turlington “Wonder Woman”, July 1997 Photographed by Michael Thompson Styled by Joe Zee
“Rough Edges”, January 1997 Photographed by Paolo Roversi Styled by Michel Botbol
“Close Knit”, November 1996 Photographed by Michael Thompson Styled by Joe Zee
“Amazing Grace”, July 1996 Photographed by Paolo Riversi Styled by Michel Botbol
“The Clash of ‘96”, February 1996 Photographed by Satoshi Saikusa Styled by Michel Botbol
“Heat Wave”, May 1994 Photographed by Wayne Maser Styled by Liz Gessner and Michel Botbol
“Smoking Section”, November 1994 Photographed by Wayne Maser Styled by Michel Botbol
“Wanderlust”, August 1995 Photographed by Miles Aldridge Styled by Michel Botbol
“Malibu Days”, February 1996 Photographed by Craig McDean Styled by Alexandra White