Deep Dives Level Up Newsletters Saved Articles Challenges

What is dystopiacore? The new doomsday-inspired, leather-infused fashion aesthetic

How would you dress for the apocalypse? It’s probably not something you’ve previously thought about, but I’m sure I could guess off the top of my head. Maybe something durable, a lot of layers perhaps, even multipurpose pockets like in a pair of trusty cargo pants? Facing the end of the world, you’ve got to be prepared, right? Well, it seems like fashion has asked and answered that question already, with people online birthing a trend out of such speculation. Some people are plain doomers, others are doomsday preppers. But what about those who are right in the middle, embracing the scary global chaos? Enter dystopiacore.

What is dystopiacore?

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by A-COLD-WALL* (@acoldwall)

Gen Zers are faced with many options when it comes to fashion choices. You can take a trip down memory lane with the Bratz X GCDS line, step into your youth with a pair of glossy jelly shoes, or even bring out your inner 00s fashion model in low rise jeans.

If you dig the utility vibe and aren’t into colourful fashion however, then dystopiacore might be right up your monochrome, minimalist alley. Simply speaking, dystopiacore at its core is a darker and edgier fashion aesthetic that resembles the grunge and goth looks. And it couldn’t come at a better time, since gothcore, metalcore and punkcore are on the horizon to dominate fashion trends in 2022. In the mainstream once again, with a little help from the star-studded power couple Megan Fox and Machine Gun Kelly—as cringe as they may be—goth’s going chic. Dystopiacore is one of the many aesthetics to watch out for this year and here’s why.

Taking its name from the genre of dystopia, the category where utopian dreams come to die and fashion begins to thrive, dystopiacore epitomises the ‘too cool for school’ (and the world) mentality that I’m sure we’re all familiar with. In the wasteland of worries and woes about the future, as we approach yet another year living within the COVID 19 pandemic’s grasp, saying ‘fuck it’ looks pretty good to me.

Decked out in long black jackets, versatile trench coats and massive combat boots, gen Z are ditching stretchy waistbands and comfy loungewear. According to dystopiacore, joggers are out and cargos are in, people.

Gone is the work from home wear that most of us are sick of slumming it in, according to author and expert on everything gothic and to do with vampires, Nick Groom, who shared a few words with The Guardian on evolving fashion trends. “People have stopped the rather passive onesie/pyjama stay-at-home, work-from-home-in-your-comfort-clothes trend and realise that they need to be more active and get out,” Groom explained.

Where did dystopiacore come from?

@erika.thorsen

#pinterestdump #subversivebasicstrend #subversivebasics #avantapocalypse #pinterest #aesthetic

♬ Molly by Playboi Carti_Audio From htttp.audio Ig - nyny <3

Trend forecaster Geraldine Wharry told The Guardian, “Fashion statements often have an element of defiance. In this particular case the defiance is the darkness and dystopian aspect.” I mean, what’s darker than totalitarian environmental degradation? “The idea that optimism is not cool and doesn’t reflect our current times, similar to what punks stood for during the 70s,” is where dystopiacore finds its appeal, Wharry continued.

Along with the rise of dopamine dressing—the maximalist rainbow throwup twin of dystopiacore—that is also a new trend for the 2022 wardrobe, not everyone is on board. It seems like we’re catching up with Hollywood’s releases of dark sci-fi blockbusters and keeping hold of our leather jackets after The Matrix Resurrections late 2021 release. With the world fawning over Timothée Chalamet (once again) for his appearance in the cinematic sci-fi epic Dune, fashion in this post-apocalyptic genre has been kickstarted once again.

Speaking to The Guardian, fashion professor Zara Anishanslin delved into the possible reasons for this spike in popularity towards doomsday apparel. “The experience of living through a pandemic is somewhat like that of living through a war: both are traumatising collective experiences, both have people battling on the ‘frontlines’, both result in a distressingly large number of deaths,” she told the publication.

Originally popularised by military soldiers, this trend of wearing durable, functional and resilient clothings has retained its uniquely universal utility aspect. To venture into the harsh and desolate world, people are using dystopiacore as a shield of armour of sorts. By now, we are all used to preparing ourselves for simple errands—PSA: always wear your mask, COVID-19 hasn’t suddenly disappeared after we were freed from incessant lockdowns.

Who’s wearing dystopiacore?

@oldloserinbrooklyn

Trend deep dive: avant apocalypse and neutral maximalism. #trendcycle #fashioncycle #rickowens #fashiontrends2022 #fashiontrends

♬ Sex and the City (Main Theme) - TV Sounds Unlimited

We are in the midst of the Avant Apocalypse, for those of you who aren’t aware. The trend, currently booming on TikTok with #AvantApocalypse garnering over 280,000 videos on the platform, has given many the idea to distress their clothes. The DIY trend features creators tearing up their tights and stockings to turn them into tops and recycling old distressed clothes with archive fashion couture pieces to get that grunge but stylish look.

Dystopiacore takes the same sort of approach to fashion, fitting into the futuristic fantasy look with layers and layers of subversive basics clothes too. Think the outfits worn by new it couple Kanye West and Julia Fox, covered head to toe in Balenciaga. West’s own line of clothing, Yeezy, is the perfect example of dystopiacore.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Donda’s 🅿️lace (@dondasplace)

As well as Balenciaga, other fashion houses are pinned as top makers of the military gear sported by wearers of this trend, like A-COLD-WALL*. Samuel Ross, the brand’s founder and fashion designer, spoke on the growth and push towards the futuristic aesthetic that dystopiacore offers. Addressing his dystopiacore-themed Autumn/Winter 2022 collection he recently presented in Milan, Ross said, “The idea of protection is a bit more universal across luxury, contemporary and streetwear now, for sure.”

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by A-COLD-WALL* (@acoldwall)

“We’ve always had a utilitarian angle, but this season we wanted to bring in a more ‘on the nose aspect’,” Ross concluded. Maybe it truly is time to switch out the sweats for some cargos, huh.

Gothcore: the illegitimate child of the goth and metalcore aesthetics

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.

What exactly is gothcore?

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.

Megan Fox and Kourtney Kardashian: gothcore fashion 2.0

@evdeangelis

gothcore #fashion #foryou #foryoupage #fyp #clothes #fancy #pinterest #fashiontiktok #goth #gothcore #gothgirl

♬ Homage x Diamante azul nerea.riddle - ;)

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.

@leznhartmoved

ur seriously gonna date other girls ?? #misaamane#deathnote#edit#aftereffects#BeautyTips#ACupgrade watch w headphones 👍👍

♬ no where to run by stegosaurus rex - emily

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.

Gothcore music

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.

Gothcore influencers

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.

@_brideofdracula_

🦇🍄🥀🌺 #goth #gothic #vampiregoth #cottagecore #bisexual #alttok #lgbt

♬ MIRROR ON THE WALL - ★Sylveon/Mozart★

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.