But her biggest fan base didn’t emerge until internet sites like Tumblr took hold, which elevated her postmodern look and appreciation for clothes sourced far from a fashion runway—Herrema once told Vogue magazine her favorite place to shop was Sports Authority—into something like a sartorial philosophy.
She’s had gigs designing jeans for skate-surf brand Volcom, and modeled and designed for Japan’s Hysteric Glamour (Sofia Coppola shot one of the ads). But her biggest mark on fashion comes through appreciation posts collecting her most iconic looks, since these images propagate online, creating new members of a growing Jennifer Herrema fashion cult.
ROYAL Trux is far from the first pioneering indie group to reunite years after the fact, once the rest of the world has caught up to them. But since Herrema is terminally averse to nostalgia and repetition, her reunion with Neil Hagerty feels less like the usual sentimental victory lap and more like returning to a path they’d each wandered away from for a while.
“I played the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland when I was a kid at school,” she remembers, while discussing her dislike of repetition. “I had to do the same lines every weekend for three months. I was like, This is so fucking boring.”
Though rock ’n’ roll might be suffering these days, it’s an art form that thrives on unexpected comebacks. It’s been declared dead dozens of times before and has always sprung back. Herrema knows that the ideas Royal Trux put out into the world—do things your way at all costs, make treasures out of other people’s trash, never back down—have taken root in the hearts and minds of a new generation of artists. And you can’t discount the idea that a new Royal Trux album could catalyze a reaction that’ll launch a thousand scuzzy rock bands and jolt the genre back to life—at least for a minute or two.
But one thing you learn in recovery is to recognize when a problem is somebody else’s to deal with, not yours, and Herrema’s quite reasonably decided that the future of rock ’n’ roll is somebody else’s problem. Besides, the reckless, anarchic spirit that rock used to overflow with—that energy she’s been chasing her entire time on Earth—is alive and well in other parts of the pop world. Take, for example, the wave of young rappers who have used internet savvy to upend the music business, to Herrema’s clear delight.
Her favorite example of this is a rapper she read about who hired a hacker to briefly make him the No. 1 artist on SoundCloud, until the platform noticed and ended the rebel takeover.
“Everything blew up and it got shut right down,” Herrema says admiringly. “But that’s all it took—like an hour—for him to be at the top spot and cause all this hullabaloo.” The underground music and fashion icon smiles. “I like that kind of uneven playing-field thing,” she says. “You can find your own ways through the nooks and crannies.”