“Tell me why / Ain’t nothin’ but a mistake” croon all five of the Backstreet Boys in “I Want It That Way”. This may apply to heartbreak, but it could also refer to the dire looks they sported in their formative days as a fivesome. This year, as the band celebrate their 20th anniversary, a combing of their closets reveals the ghost of fashion past. Kevin Richardson, founding member of BSB, looks back at five of the more questionable sartorial choices made by the Backstreet Boys.
THE BSB BRANDED LEATHER JACKETS
“When we first became a group in ’93, one of the very first trips we took was to the UK, and we wore those jackets everywhere. We looked like a kind of gang. We had to self-promote and get our name out there. We had never heard the term ‘boy band’ until we went to the UK.”
THE “WE’VE GOT IT GOIN ON” VIDEO
“In ‘93, the musical climate was very heavy grunge and hip hop – you had Snoop Dogg, Dr Dre, Biggie and Puffy – there was a very heavy R&B, hip hop influence in mainstream radio. Everybody was wearing big and baggy stuff, so that’s what we wore. We thought it looked really cool, at the time.”
Nobody's 'got it goin' on' here. The guys have a meltdown in these matching metallic jackets. Their chill expressions say, "Hey baby", but the jackets are more reflective of an aluminum picnic cooler bag.
METALLIC DISCO DREAM
“No one ever told us what to wear. Nobody’s going to tell me what to wear. However, in one photo spread, we didn’t really have a choice. Back in the day we did the Smash Hits! road show tour all around the UK. I think we were doing the cover for Smash Hits! magazine and we had these horrible silver disco shirts and they made us hold these disco balls and I’m like, “Really? We have to wear these shirts?” And they were like, “Yeah. It’s going to look great on the cover. It’s going to look amazing.” I think if you look at the picture you can tell I’m really disgusted and not into it.”
THE TOMMY HILFIGER KNOCKOFF PARACHUTE OVERALLS
“I grew up in the 80s when the real parachute pants were out. I can remember when ‘Beat It’ and Thriller came out and break-dancing was the thing. I never thought I would see parachute pants come back around. I look back at those overalls and I’m like, ‘No, what were we thinking?’”
Aloha! The aloof fivesome took a wrong turn and surely pissed off some locals along the way with these tourist tragedies (shouts to AJ's newsboy cap). Sure, they were probably poised to takeover the tiny American island home to surfers and sallies, but this printed ensemble is more tacky than triumphant. Also, how did Aaron Carter end up photobombing?
AJ'S CRAZY HAIR COLOURS
“Well, I think with AJ, it didn’t really piss me off. I just didn’t get it. He had every colour hair imaginable. One week it would be red. One week it would be blonde with black polka dots on it where he would look like a leopard or something. I just never really understood that. We always joked with him and called him Dennis Rodman.”
KEVIN'S DOUBLE PIERCED EARS AND GOATEE
“I definitely had both ears pierced. Brian and AJ had both of their ears pierced too. My father always had a beard growing up and I’ve always liked facial hair. So when I could grow facial hair I grew a goatee. I couldn’t grow a full beard.”
NICK'S DOLPHINS BANDANNA
Supporting the home team is high on the list for Florida native and front hunk Nick Carter. Plus, wearing sports merch catered to all their man fans… right? Guys?
THE “ANYWHERE FOR YOU” VIDEO
“All I can remember is that we were on a beach and it could have been like a GAP commercial. We had sweaters and khakis and white button-downs and then we were running around on the beach in swim trunks and there’s a scene where we arrive on bikes in golf polo shirts.”
THE TIME KEVIN WASN'T ALLOWED TO WEAR A MATCHING BEIGE JACKET
Follow Trey Taylor on Twitter here @treytylor