Versace, Burberry. Milan, London, and Paris. Times Square and Malibu. The goth fashion is entering the mass market with intensity. Fashion shows are reintroducing goth fashion elements decades after the British Punk movement hugely established goth as a fashion aesthetic that would influence a whole era. The 70’s were ending and the edgy aesthetics of the 80’s were starting to bloom with edgy, androgynous, and nostalgic design elements that were mostly black and dark.
In the last couple of years we have seen an increase in the popularity of goth fashion. Although there are individuals who truly align with this aesthetic in a permanent matter, it is true that most recently we’ve seen high fashion brands like Gucci, and Prada, establish gothic inspired looks that have later trickled down to the mass market.
What is goth fashion?
If goth fashion had to be described with emotions, these would probably be sadness, nostalgia, and sorrow. Goth fashion is usually presented in dark colors such as burgundy, dark purple, or gray. Some of the prevalent materials are velvet, lace, and leather. The makeup can be entirely black, or feature some colorful and dramatic eyeshadows and lipsticks. People of all genders tend to wear eyeliner and makeup for goth fashion aesthetic, as well as accessories like chokers, leather belts and fishnets.
As we’ve mentioned in Political Fashion, fashion trends can come from different sources. Fashion illustrates what’s happening in society, which is why when we open a History book, we can have a general idea of the time period we will be studying based on the clothes that the illustrations of the history book have.
Now, it is true that we all perceive our reality in different ways, and there is no single narrative to what happens around the world every day. Which is why there is not just one fashion trend happening at the same time. Fashion designers, creatives, and researchers, make their own interpretations to diversify narratives and create clothing for a variety of customers.
But even though there is no one single narrative, there are some words that can describe in a general way the “mood” of a certain period of time. 2020 happened three years ago, and in most parts of the world a somehow back to normal life has been implemented at least for a couple of months. However, the pandemic didn’t disappear and left us being the same people we were before. We can’t pretend that months of uncertainty, isolation, fear, and loneliness didn’t happen.
According to the World Health Organization, the Covid-19 pandemic triggered a 25% increase in global prevalence of depression and anxiety. This high number of cases continued in 2022, when HealthDay News reported 1 in 10 Americans suffer from depression.
We might be able to be outside now, but the comfort of being outdoors with the social safety of loneliness became part of people’s routine, creating social anxiety among many folks. Others went out after several years of social distancing and virtual calls, with a strong desire to connect with people and an overwhelming amount of joy and love to give, causing struggles of rejection, and disconnection, as if we had forgotten how to engage with people. There are others who may have not been diagnosed with anxiety or depression, but face the uncertainty on their economy, on their safety, on their job, or on their personal relationships.
Based on these prevailing situations among people of different ages, social classes, and backgrounds, it is safe to say that the social context wouldn’t be defined as optimistic. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In recent years we have learned to speak a little bit more freely about sadness, about things not being ok all the time, about not feeling hopeful. In many ways, goth fashion is a representation of that. Goth fashion often references dark periods or dark moments, such as the Victorian cult of mourning, the clothing during the bubonic plague, or the obscure novels like Frankenstein or Dracula. Darkness, loneliness, emptiness, are some ways to describe the social context that has been pushing goth fashion to the mass markets.
Goth fashion as a trend can be interpreted as an illustration of the non-optimistic social context, but this doesn’t mean that the rest of the fashion trends aren’t.
In fact, several fashion journalists and editors claim that the very bright colors such as the hot pink that Valentino introduced in their Fall 2022 collection, or the bold color combinations from xx are simply a defense mechanism for consumers to have a very strong visual presence. A person can feel insecure or intimidated by walking in a crowd. The social anxiety mentioned earlier is processed differently by consumers. Some will take a goth approach, as a dark expression of what they are perceiving in the environment around them. They don’t want to “blend in”. Instead, they would prefer to go unnoticed.
On the other hand, others are terrified of rejection. Insecurities creep in with questions like: “What if I say something wrong?” “What if I do something wrong?” “What if they don’t like me?” This way, fashion becomes a defense mechanism and a tool to create an impactful first impression that helps them to find self confidence to socialize with other people and feel comfortable being outside again.
So colorful fashion trends don’t reflect optimism necessarily. And on the other hand, goth fashion as a massive trend doesn’t always reflect sadness. Fashion personalities and followers adopt clothes and styles that they see in the runway because they want to keep up with fashion, but for many of them, the meaning, history, or background of the clothes,don’t make a lot of difference.
In order to understand the cycles of fashion trends, we can see where fashion trends start. During Fashion Week in Milan, New York, London, and Paris, we saw a lot of gothic elements. These fashion shows happened in September 2022. They make it to the headlines, some looks might start to be seen in red carpets, and Instagram posts starred by celebrities. The mass fashion market pays attention to this, and plans collections and drops that can be released within a matter of days if they decide to do so.
Some fashion statements seen in fashion week don’t gain enough popularity, because maybe they were intentionally fashion statements that could only work during a fashion show, but not interpreted for the mass consumer. It will takes a couple of months to see how the mass market reacts to the goth fashion mass trend. The truth is that goth aesthetic is a very broad concept that can be interpreted in multiple ways, because there are many goth subcategories, and many design elements to play with. (Take a look at The Ultimate Guide to Goth, Punk and Emo Styles)
Here are some fashion highlights from Fashion Week Spring Summer 2023. To find inspiration, to have an idea of what mass fashion brands are looking at and thinking of interpreting in the upcoming weeks. It will be interesting to see how goth fashion encounters other Spring Summer fashion trends, and how every consumer, with their individuality and their own perception of fashion, interpret these ideas.
Versace Spring Summer 2023
Donatella Versace presented a goth inspired collection back in September 2022. The concept of a “goddess gone grunge” incorporated dramatic elements like veils, lace, and corsets, in purples, blacks and fuchsias. The fashion designer.
I have always loved a rebel. A woman who is confident, smart and a little bit of a diva. She wears leather, studs and frayed denim and she has enough attitude to mix them with chiffon, jersey, and a tiara! Donatella Versace
Donatella Versace merged together two major concepts shaping the current fashion world: goth fashion, and bold colors. The romantic and goth textiles like lace and tulle are shown in neon and bold colors. This is a very interesting way to reintroduce goth fashion and make it interesting for young consumers.
Burberry Spring Show 2023
The Burberry fashion show was postponed a couple of weeks after the Death of the Queen. But this didn’t mean that the show wasn’t impressive or that people wouldn’t pay attention to what the London based fashion house had to say for their Spring Summer collection. Goth fashion was present. The sophistication of Burberry combined with lace, mesh, velvet, organza, and tridimensional techniques, made it to the headlines of fashion mass media. Months later, we are seeing an increase in the popularity of goth fashion entering the mass market.
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