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The development of Goth from a music culture to a fashion aesthetic throughout the years

The development of Goth from a music culture to a fashion aesthetic throughout the years

As we go back in time to the late 15th up to early 17th century we can find that the term Gothic is being used in literature as a pejorative synonym for the word "barbaric."

The term "Goth" derives from the Roman Empire but has little to do with the subculture. The Goths were a Germanic tribe who contributed to the defeat of the Roman Empire. In contrast, the gothic novel of the eighteenth century is a founder of the modern understanding of the term “Gothic'' by being a concept related to horror, morbidity, and darkness.

Contrary to how it has been portrayed in cinema and literature, the Goth subculture emerged in the late 20th century in the United Kingdom as a less aggressive but more extravagant offshoot of the post punk music genre. 

During the late 1970s, post-punk gave way to Gothic rock. 

At the start of the 1980s, one band jokingly labeled the newly emerging movement "gothic," and thus the label evolved from a label for a few bands to a label for a movement.

Punk was an aggressive rock in general, whereas gothic bands were more introverted and personal. As a subculture, Goth does not discriminate against different sexualities, races, religions, or ages as everyone is welcomed regardless of their differences which makes it easily comparable to the hippie movement.

In the mid-1980s, the concept of punk faded and started to disappear and its people started to change their way of doing things. Like every other subculture,  Goth was not excluded except that the changes that were made turned it into a rebellion instead of it fading away, thus giving it a chance to expand and reach where it is at today. 

Today, Goth style is an anti-fashion statement which at first may sound bad but is actually what gives this subculture its charm and  made it get this far and become ever so popular nowadays. 


The gothic style arose from the British Punk movement as the 1970s gave way to the wild 1980s. The origins of this aesthetic are all thanks to the BAUHAUS band and their 1979 single ‘’Bela Lugosi’s Dead’’ which was inspired by the actor BELA LUGOSI who played in the 1931 film DRACULA. Artists such as David Bowie, Joy Division, Siouxsie, and the Banshees foreshadowed a shift toward androgyny, angst, and darker themes before Goth became a full-fledged style. Many bands (who were often labeled as post-punk or positive punk before Goth was coined) performed in a London nightclub called ‘’ The Batcave’’ beginning in 1982. This developed into a gathering spot for musicians and fans, furthering the development of the Goth style. Dark femininity, as well as other style characteristics like sheer materials and fishnets, rose to popularity during this time. Although the Goth aesthetics never truly died, it has become increasingly rare in recent days and is associated with a niche rather than a mainstream fashion trend. 

As for today this subculture has expanded and become quite a statement of and in itself, promoting uniqueness and originality in both thinking and being.  The fashion speaks for itself, as its components that once were used only by the people within the inner circle of this culture are now introduced as statement pieces in multiple mainstream aesthetics. 

Talking about fashion we should not neglect that this subculture is branched into three main groups each with its subtypes:


  • Trad goth - the classic goth:

The outfit normally includes very dramatic black and white makeup that extends upward toward the temple, teased long hair sometimes in a mullet, and layered dark clothing that is usually quite concealing.

  • Medieval goth:

This is a gothic style that incorporates medieval and historical themes such as cathedrals, castles, crosses, mythology, dragons, magic, and so on. 

To reflect the legendary attraction, creature aesthetics such as elf or goblin ears, horns, wings, or tails can be seen incorporated into this style.


  • Deathrock:

This look is distinguished by shaved heads, shredded garments, mohawks, fishnets, and a plethora of DIY apparel with eerie aesthetics. This style combines punk and goth aesthetics.


  • Cyber goth:

In addition to ravewear/ festival apparel, the fashion is fairly similar, with dazzling neon colors mixed with black, and incorporates technological themes such as cyborgs and circuit boards, as well as a focus on toxic waste and poison.

  • Romantic goth:

This style is comparable to Victorian goth but focused on the Romantic Era. 

There are a lot of belle sleeves, lace, high necks, blouses, and long layered flowy skirts in the fashion.


  • Victorian goth:

 A subgenre of goth that focuses on Victorian-era fashion. Vests, bustles, and bustiers are commonly worn. 

These goths are more period accurate, and many are seen with non-dyed hair to maintain that accuracy.

  • Witch goth/ Wiccan/ Pagan:

 Wide-brimmed hats, bell sleeves, sigils painted on the skin, forehead ornamentation, crystal jewelry, scarves, and veils are very common in this style of goth. This style is heavily influenced by astrology, magic/witchcraft, voodoo, shamanism, and more.


  • Mall goth:

 Low-waisted bottoms, miniskirts, colored plaid, arm warmers, and cargo trousers were frequently worn and coupled with Hello Kitty and other Sanrio characters.

The trend is comparable to Avril Lavigne's style from the early 2000s, but with a darker punk twist. 


  • Glam goth:

V-necks, teased hair, feathers, leather, fur, animal prints, sequins, and colored leather were all variances from typical goth fashions but were used to heighten dramatic flair in this one. It has a more theatrical costume sense, comparable to the characters in Rocky Horror Picture Show.


  • Gothabilly/Pin-up goth:

This is a gothic style that mixes 50s-style dresses with long petticoats, halter tops, and high-waisted bottoms in dark hues and retro spooky designs.

Many others may prefer a more simple appearance with retro makeup and hair, and they enjoy kitten heels or pumps over clunky goth boots.


  • Pastel goth:

Pastel goth is a completely different picture of what a traditional goth style looks like. It mixes gothic types of dress but pairs them with very bright and pastel hues.


  • Burlesque/Cabaret:

This aesthetic is more daring and seductive than traditional Victorian goth, it emphasizes lingerie, pinned-up high-low shirts, corsets, silk, and robes.


  • NU-GOTH:

 This is a modern goth dress genre that uses black and dark-colored variations of everyday-styled clothing while still referring to the old goth, the inclusion of appropriate garments that meets the old-school style is seen frequently.

  • Gothic Lolita:

The Gothic Lolita style goes well with doll-like apparel with ruffles, puffy sleeves, and gathers. Aprons, gloves, and stockings are worn to create a polished but adorable appearance.

  • Fetish goth:

 The fashion incorporates a lot of leather, latex, corseting, and collars, many of these can be worn purely for aesthetic reasons. Despite it being a combination of goth and BDSM culture, it does not have to be sexual.



  • Steampunk:

In place of all-black, the fashion has evolved to primarily feature Victorian-style clothing that is layered with gears, goggles, gadgets, and pouches to reference brass, leather, and wood. Despite wearing elegant attire like long dresses, waistcoats, blouses, lace, and tophats, it has a very utilitarian appearance and is based upon steam as the main power source.

  • Grunge:

This style is based on 1990s rock bands such as Nirvana and The Grateful Dead. It is a more informal look that can appear bummy or input-together. Because many grunge artists were destitute, much of their clothing came from thrift stores: baggy shirts, tattered trousers, and combat boots.


  • Cyberpunk:

Bright colors, chunky, bold accessories, lots of PVC, functional clothing, and tech-related themes like cyborgs or circuit boards were all part of the fashion.

  • Dieselpunk offshoot:

This concentrates on the postwar period between 1930 and 1940. As a result, the emphasis is more on automotive themes like bomber jackets, racing patches, etc. It is essentially steampunk but uses diesel as a power source rather than steam.

  • Crust punk:

Due to its messy nature, this fashion is frequently characterized by natural dreadlocks, matte locks, and tattered layers of clothing.


  • Solarpunk offshoot:

Similar in style to cyberpunk, the artwork is less gloomy and dark and instead emphasizes lighter hues with vaporwave influences and sees technology as a massive boost that will improve society rather than exacerbate its flaws.



🟣 EMO:

Graphic band tees, skinny jeans, studded belts and accessories, heavy bangs, teased hair, and heavy eyeliner characterize the style.


  • E-girl:

Pleated skater skirts, striped long-sleeve tops, crop tops, chains, colored hair in the middle, and fishnets are all prevalent in fashion. Since this look was popularized by social media, there is a strong emphasis on internet cultures, such as social/beauty influencers and glam makeup as opposed to heavy gothic full-faces, giving this look a stronger emphasis on charming than the classic vibes that are expected to be mostly creepy and scary.

  • Scene:

The majority of scene kids resemble mall goths since they frequently sport Hot Topic clothing. There is a lot of layering of clothing and accessories—almost to the point of being garish—and the fashion tends to be ill-matched or overly adorned with clashing patterns.



Regardless of how each of us perceives it or how each person incorporates it into their daily lives, the gothic subculture is a very distinctive way of being. However, we can all agree that from the perspective of fashion, it is one of the richest aesthetics out there and has never failed to demonstrate it throughout the year. 

At Authentic Goth, we work hard to meet your fashion needs while showcasing and preserving your unique personality.  

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