So its always kind of bothered me a bit that some goths like to really dump on modern goth styles and trends when in retrospect, goth has always mirrored the mainstream in terms of fashion in some point or another. Right from the very beginning goth was borrowing from the mainstream and vice versa. So i thought that i would break down 4 decades of goth fashion and their comparisons to popular trends and mainstream fashion to show you that goth has never been as original as you might think and that change and evolution is inevitable in all subcultures that involve fashion.
Of course we all know goth came from punk so obviously from the very
moment goth stood on its own two legs, it was already borrowing style inspiration from its punk roots, but it didnt stop there.
The 80′s were known as a pretty outrageous time for fashion and with pop music dominating the radio and television it was understandable that pop stars were a huge influence when it came to fashion. Madonna was definitely one of the most influential fashion icons of the 80′s and though she was a pop princess on the radio, some of her style often dappled in the darker side of fashion. she often sported fishnet tops, black leather and religious symbols. much like Siouxsie Sioux. Leather, spandex, lace and pointy shoes were all trendy in the 80′s, but not just in goth, but much of the mainstream as well. Makeup was often bold in color and almost geometric in shape. And of course who could forget that hair? Goths in the 80′s went all out when it came to their hairstyles but they weren’t the only ones wasting a whole can of Aqua Net in one day on keeping their hair gravity defying. Almost everyone in the 80′s at some point has backcombed, teased or crimped their locks all in the name of bigger hair.
Of course not every trend that was popular in the 80′s died as soon as the 90′s rolled around, and a lot of goths were still wearing looks that were common in the 80′s but much of goth fashion was becoming less punk and more romantic during the mid to late 90′s. The 90′s brought with it, a strange obsession with the occult. Shows like charmed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and movies like The Craft, began influencing certain fashion trends. Velvet dresses with combat boots became staples in both goth and mainstream fashion. 90′s hair became less styled and more free and many goth women began adopting the free flowing look that added to the mysterious seductress vibe. Makeup became less geometric. It was popular at the time for women to go linerless or wear darker more natural tones in a smudged fashion around their eyes. young goths were ditching the pointy shoes to go with the more popular platform style that the 90′s was known for.
I think most of us can agree that the 2000′s had some really hit or miss trends in both goth and mainstream fashion and I can comfortably say that the 2000′s is seen as a rather embarrassing decade by many goths now. This was the time that a lot of misinformed young people were flocking to Manson concerts and Hot Topic and were eating up everything that they thought was goth whether it was or not. Many of the so called “goths” you saw on TV in the 2000′s were what we today consider mall goths. Mainstream fashion was really all over the place in the 2000′s and i think goth fashion was too. Pop stars were experimenting with strange color and style combinations and goths started experimenting with neon. Rave fashion had evolved and trickled over from the 90′s into 2000′s mainstream fashion and into goth as well in what is call cyber goth. In the 2000′s baggy pants became popular with young people and goths began sporting Tripp pants and other forms of cargo pants. Skater fashion clashed with the mainstream as well as with goth and you would often see goth teens wearing Avrils signature eye look paired with a fishnet top and black baggy pants. Stripped stockings became popular and high fashion was borrowing from goth more than ever. Thankfully romantic goth survived well enough that not every goth looked like a cross between a spice girl, a raver and a character from Invader Zim, but unfortunately there were a lot of misguided youths experimenting with a subculture that they didnt know enough about and with how many strange trends we blew through in the 2000′s its understandable why goth fashion was so all over the place.
And suddenly we are stuck in this strange place between the 80′s and 90′s. Mainstream fashion in the past 7 years has really borrowed a lot from the past, especially the 90′s. But this time, its doing it in a simpler, more flattering fashion. The 90′s was cool right? Well if you’re a 90′s kid like me then you probably jumped right on that 90′s revival train like the rest of us and you’re riding it all the way through nostalgia town. Grungy ripped jeans, flannel and band Ts, chunky boots and tattoo chokers are all back in style and many goths are eating it up as well. But im going to give nu goth some credit here. Some of it is really nice. Black leather jackets, velvet, occult symbols and fishnets. Its almost like its paying an homage to 80′s and 90′s goth fashion. Of course a lot of nu goth style in 2010 was really ugly garbage but the style has improved over the years, encompassing other styles such as strega fashion and ninja goth. Witchy symbols are being worn by goths and mainstreamers alike. Long band T shirts over leggings and wide brimmed hats are everywhere. Shows like American Horror Story helped kick start the witchy fashion trend and everyone is buying it. I personally enjoy a lot of aspects of modern goth fashion because they remind me of the 80′s and 90′s. Even pointy shoes are coming back into style. Its possible that with the help of nu goth and mainstream fashion we may actually be able to kickstart a new generation of traditional goths and finally come full circle.
So goth has never really been original and just like every other fashion, its going to keep evolving over time and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Now that leather jackets and pointy buckle boots are coming back into style and more people are asking who Joy Division is after seeing one of their shirts hanging up in Forever 21, we are now closer to our goth roots than we have been in 2 decades. Goth fashion was always about experimenting and expressing yourself but even the best of us have fallen prey to trends, and thats not a bad thing. Fashion is something to have fun with, and if goth really does claim to be a subculture thats “all about the music” then it shouldnt matter how a goth dresses.