Wanna know what happens when you mix goth, punk and metal together? Well, we have the answer for you—you end up with gothcore, the latest aesthetic inundating TikTok with some seriously spooky vibes. And since we’re already celebrating Halloween today, it seems to be the perfect time to discuss the resurrected mania surrounding gothcore.
Now, you might think you’ve seen it all when it comes to TikTok trends—you may even think you know all the ‘cores’ there can be by now. But don’t be easily tricked, known for its dark allure and signature all-black fits, the trend is often confused with similar aesthetics like punkcore for example. Gothcore also dabbles within the realm of fantasy at times, which brings in comparisons to dark naturalism, dark paradise, and even dark academia; a subculture known for its romanticisation of classical eccentric styles.
But gothcore isn’t just a fashion aesthetic, it’s an entire lifestyle. Think goth but make it modern, this trend meshes all the best parts of goth fashionwear, music and makeup with an added touch of modern flare. So, before you decide to drag out your crumpled cat ears from your attic for a last-minute Halloween fit, why not learn more about this online subculture sensation first?
Strap on your platform boots and bring out the black kohl liner—we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about gothcore, and how you can take part in it too.
To put it simply, gothcore is a subculture that takes inspiration primarily from gothic aesthetics in fashion, makeup and even different media with certain movies being considered part of it. The trend also has a firm and specific music style to go with it. Wonder describes it as an “anti-softcore” movement. According to the aesthetic’s own Wiki page, it is a fusion of gothic rock and hardcore punk which has its own array of whacky subcultures like folk punk and metalcore.
When it comes to gothcore, there isn’t much information on the trend since it mainly consists of a mix of many contrasting aesthetics. Any number of things can be classed within it, from strictly emo bands to those who like to dip their toe in traditional gothic fashion donning outfits Morticia Addams would die for.
Comparatively smaller in the world of cores—just look at cottagecore which has amassed 7 billion views on TikTok and growing, or even goblincore and fairycore which are not too far behind either. That being said, the gothcore community is anything but quiet and more on par with the likes of scenecore—with most members having a liking for metal music and loud punk rock, there’s no shortage of screaming.
Firmly at the intersection where goth meets glam, gothcore takes elements from the emo and gothic fashion trends that ruled the late 2010s and mixes it with runway haute couture. InStyle has reported on celebrities like Megan Fox, Olivia Rodrigo and Kourtney Kardashian who have been spotted sporting the look.
There’s also a recurring theme that can easily be spotted when it comes down to the makeup members of the gothcore community tend to use. Melt Cosmetics is a pretty on-point example, as its Mary Jane eye palette perfectly channels the smoky and dark allure of the aesthetic.
Online, many have also taken to anime inspirations such as Misa Amane, a protagonist from the anime Death Note, for their look. Amane sports heavy gothic wear in a modern way, with frilly black corsets combined with leather black boots, short leather skirts, and her arms graced in a cut-out fishnet material. She usually adds patterned tights and fingerless gloves to complete her look. This playful mix of old and new is one of the main aspects of gothcore fashion.
In fact, a lot of the gothcore videos on TikTok use audio of Amane speaking from the dubbed version of the show, with numerous gothcore fit checks also using the sound uploaded from an edit with over 5 million views by user @leznhartmoved. The character is clearly popular and fits perfectly into the definition of gothcore as ‘modern meets goth’.
For men who also take part in the aesthetic, Death Note is again an important inspiration with the character of the Shinigami Ryuk—the demon antagonist of the show. Ryuk has a fashion-forward look, donning distressed black trousers and a large chain looped through his belt. He might be scary but you’ve gotta hand it to him—that demon’s got style.
Like most subcultures, gothcore has a very specific sound that draws influences from “goth bands such as Bauhaus, Siouxsie & The Banshees, and Christian Death with the hardcore punk bands like Black Flag, The Germs, Extreme Noise Terror, as well as metalcore bands like Bleeding Through and It Dies Today,” as its Wiki page states. “The sounds of the music is a crossover of dark post punk, dark post hardcore and dark metal. Some bands incorporate darkwave and industrial influences as well. Key structures of the songs incorporate breakdowns to the structure of the Gothic Metal influenced sounds. The simple concept is Goth(ic)-(Metal)-Core,” the page continues. Bands like Samhain—named interestingly after the Gaelic festival for the ‘darker half’ of the year’s harvest season—and Rx27 have considerably influenced the sounds of gothcore.
Like many trends, this aesthetic has its own designated corner of the internet, thriving in places like TikTok and Tumblr, with many accounts displaying their OOTDs and style inspo. Gothcore content can often be found on the hashtags #mallgoth, #gothaesthetic and #romaticgoth. Creators like @cherubchelsea go viral for making additions to the style like bimbo-gothcore, and @hekate_moon’s modernisation of vintage goth in her videos.
TikTokers like @_brideofdracula_ have garnered thousands of followers on the platform by posting videos talking about how tricky it is to label yourself in communities with overlapping subcultures. Broad terms like ‘goth’ incite a questionable stare when added to a list of seemingly opposite aesthetic styles like cottagecore. But people—like the wonderful multifaceted beings we are—exist and can be more than one thing, duh.
As a subculture, gothcore remains small for now although it already encompasses a whole lot—and that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for people not already in the know to squeeze in too.
It’s 3 am on a Wednesday morning and you’re armed with a Kermit backpack, a weak flashlight and an obsolete tourist map. Your friends are not far behind, you identify them with DIY-ed tin foil hats gleaming under the moonlight. You then pull out the old newspaper clipping that drew your squad into the local woods in the first place. “Red-eyed creature reported in West Virginia,” it reads, recounting the horrific experience of a couple whose car was followed by a huge bird-like creature with a 10-foot wingspan. Fastening your father’s old Doc Martens, you grab your Polaroid camera and head into the darkness with all the courage that you can muster.
Welcome to cryptidcore, an aesthetic focused on delving into mysteries that you believe in—but aren’t meant to discover.
Before we break down the aesthetic, let’s address the seven-lettered word attached to the ‘core’ suffix. What exactly is a cryptid? Well, just think Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster (affectionately called Nessie), Yeti, the Jersey Devil, the Goatman and the Cactus Cat. Cryptids are creatures believed to exist somewhere in the wild, usually unconfirmed by mainstream science. Typically originating from folklores, they are mythological in nature but not necessarily supernatural. Remember that there is a fine line between the two—with the former (arguably) including aliens and ghosts.
While much of the internet claims cryptids to be “obscure and undocumented creatures,” the term was coined by cryptozoology—a branch of pseudoscience dedicated to proving the existence of such entities. While biologists consistently identify new species following established scientific methodologies, cryptozoologists focus on cryptids mentioned both in the folklore records and alleged rumours. Parallels in the branch also include ghost hunting and ufology.
Cryptidcore is where all of this manifests—coupled with the glorification and idolisation of cryptids, conspiracies (not the anti-vax kind) and all-around mystery. Originating in the mid-2010s, with mood boards made on series like Scooby-Doo, The X-Files, Gravity Falls and Buzzfeed Unsolved, it wasn’t until 2014 that the term ‘cryptidcore’ was birthed on Tumblr by a user named Charlie. “New aesthetic: cryptidcore,” the post read, mentioning everything from kitschy t-shirts and keychains from souvenir shops to tin foil hats and muffled X-Files theme songs playing in the distance. The text post broke Tumblr and the aesthetic gained traction.
Borrowing visuals from the 1970s to the 1990s, cryptidcore imagery generally includes pitch-dark forests, abandoned buildings, polaroid cameras, VHS tapes, pocket knives, tin foil hats, Ouija boards, glow-in-the-dark iconography and field diaries—bursting to the seam with newspaper clippings of cryptid sightings. Cryptidcorists love researching conspiracy theories, government cover-ups and local mysteries while taking long walks in the forest, planning 2 a.m. alien-watch seshes in local wheat fields and exploring haunted places and corn mazes during road trips. They are also avid enthusiasts of garage sales, thrift stores, vintage sci-fi movies, alien documentaries and, of course, ghost stories narrated around a campfire.
You would often spot cryptidcorists decked in practical and comfy outfits with browns, beige and muted colours. Specific clothing items also include graphic tees, flannel shirts, plaid and corduroy jackets, trench coats, cargo pants and oversized sweaters featuring iron-on patches—topped off with classic combat boots and a backpack. Preferring artworks by the likes of Canadian horror illustrator Trevor Henderson, they are the native audience of television shows like Stranger Things (obviously), Dark and Invader Zim among others. Aesthetics Wiki, the one-stop-shop for internet subcultures and aesthetics, even lists podcasts like ‘CreepsMcPasta Creepypasta Radio’ and ‘Welcome to Nightvale’ as assets under cryptidcore.
From dark academia to lovecore, a new page on Aesthetics Wiki has proven to translate into a full-fledged trend with a dedicated hashtag on TikTok. Cryptidcore is no exception. With a whopping 21 million views and counting on #cryptidcore, the platform’s obsession with the aesthetic—and everything mythical—is apparent.
Enthusiasts are seen crafting their own cryptid detectors and Halloween decor by sacrificing styrofoam heads, while the rest iterate what they would wear if they were asked to tag along on a monster hunt with other cryptozoologists back in 1982. CCTV footage of cryptid sightings and speed drawings of mythical creatures are also in the mix.
A specific spinoff of the aesthetic, however, is the platform’s obsession with Mothman—a humanoid creature part of West Virginia folklore with giant red eyes and a 10-foot wingspan. The same one the couple spotted chasing their car earlier, remember? Well, he has now evolved into a romantic icon within the community, with phrases like “Mothman is real, I’m married to him” floating around on cryptidcore circles on TikTok. With 1.5 million views and counting on #sexymothman, he’s basically the ‘fuckboy of cryptids’ nowadays.
While enthusiasts are busy planning their wedding with Mothman or reality shifting their way into his dimension, I’m here to note how the shift of the aesthetic onto the gen Z-first platform has extended its ‘shelf life’. Simply put, art forms that don’t evolve, cease to exist. Not only has TikTok’s take on the aesthetic helped push it into the mainstream but it has also initiated some to seek solace within the community—a factor we all deserve given the current times, if you ask me.
So if all of this peaks your interest in the aesthetic, grab a copy of Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children or The Mortal Instruments, blast a cryptidcore playlist on Spotify and set off with your (consenting) squad into the local woods. And if you think you’ve actually been there before, it’s just that the government made sure you forgot the first time around.