How Has Fashion And Pop Culture Leveraged The Gothic Subculture?

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Growing up, I watched multiple movies from the West. One character that frequently popped up in those movies was this kid with exaggerated dressing in all-black, kohl smeared all over their eyes and a hairstyle that resembled the human form of an electric shock. Back then, ‘emo’ was the buzzword to categorize them, and that was it. Eventually, as times changed, realms of punk and emo became synonymous with goth. But what many people don’t realize is that there is a stark difference between punk and goths. Especially in the emotions that the two subcultures feel. Punk is all about violence and anger, while goth searches for a dark romanticism of sorts, which is poetic and moody.

The origin of the gothic subculture can be traced back to the United Kingdom during the early 1980s. British bands like Bauhaus and Siouxsie And The Banshees became a major catalyst to give birth to the gothic subculture. Siouxsie Sioux, the latter’s lead singer, was widely influential amongst girls who identified as goth thanks to her signature cat-eye makeup, deep red lips, and black outfits.


Siouxsie Sioux of Siouxsie And The Banshees

Goths usually incline towards emulating a style that’s Victorian at heart but in black. Their fashion is characterized with the help of elements like flowing sleeves, frills, long skirts, corsets, dramatic makeup, accessories with mythological or anti-religious symbols with hair that’s edgy, spiked up, or just *really* unconventional. Fabrics like lace, velvet and leather are prominent in gothic dressing, making it a subculture that’s been adopted by both men and women. While beauty running parallel with gender may be a hot topic right now, goths pioneered it way back. The majority of the gothic men championed striking makeup and monotone black silhouettes, making goth a gender-neutral subculture.



The impact of goths took no time to pave its way onto the screen and red carpets. Pop culture and runways of eminent fashion designers became a catalyst to spread the confines of goth globally. Movies and shows like Harry Potter and Gossip Girl portrayed the gothic subculture somehow.

Nancy Downs in The Craft
Lisbeth Salander in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Bellatrix in Harry Potter
Janis Ian in Mean Girls
Jenny Humphrey in Gossip Girl
Jacqueline and Vince in Portlandia

For his Fall 2016 collection, Marc Jacobs presented a glamourous and gothic-inspired line set in New York’s Park Avenue Armory in a vast, eerie cubicle with off-white walls and floor. From Lady Gaga to Kendall Jenner, the show was gothic at its best.

But this wasn’t the only time when Lady Gaga channelled a gothic vibe. From the Met Gala in 2018, Bad Romance, Born This Way to several occasions, the singer has given gothic fashion her own contemporary spin multiple times. And honestly, we’re here for it.

While goth as a subculture has been able to survive for a very long time, its influence has also managed to capture pop culture and fashion under its realm, the by-product of which we often find popping up time and again. And here’s a fact: it’s here to stay.

Photographs: Instagram, Pinterest

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