There are many different looks and complex changes within the Goth Subculture. There are many different stylistic strands at work within Goth, However it is quite easily stereotyped. Spooner (2006) states that Goth emerged as a visual style from Gothic Literature. It grew out of punk style and had its hay day in the 1980s. To outsiders, the subculture appears consistent, but its a combination of objects and style. Goth plays with the traditional notions of masculinity. Both genders involved themselves in Goth. Hodkinson (2007) suggests that Goth is more complex. A fusion of different styles being present, goth employs Bricolage and plays around with styles from elsewhere, clothing is highly important in this Subculture. The Birmingham school talk about “symbolic resistance” and a statement being made within the style which there is within Goth, whereas the post modern approach is that you can just wear a style with no statement, goth does not fit in with this approach.

There is a Victorian aspect to Goth. It is borrowed from Victorian style and traditions of Gothic literature from the 19th century. It is highly inspired by Horror, Frankenstein or Dracula and has the idea of reverting back to the period when this literature was made.


The Victorian mourning dress is a valuable resource to Gothic style and corsetry. Steele (2008) states that elements of Victorian fashion became incorporated into goth dress. The mourning dress is a huge influence to the goth style however it has been changed by the use of make up. They did not wear black eyeliner and dark make up in the Victorian times.

The themes that emerge from Goth Subculture include: Ghosts, hauntings, the undead, liminal bodies, monstrosity and transgressing social forms.  How far do these themes emerge visually in the look of Goth Subculture? Spooner (2006) says: it is clothing that most securely links Goth subculture with the gothic literary tradition “surface” features of gothic fiction such as veils and masquerade.


This is a costume for Morticia Adams (the Adams Family). In terms of Design it belongs to the victorian tradition of the mourning dress. The majority of flesh is covered and the arms are slightly shredded portraying decay and death. The motif of tearing clothes is a motif of decay and age of fabric. The spider on the front portrays the notion of creepy crawlies crawling on dead bodies. Death is an important theme within gothic literature.

Gothic Style is a fusion, it fits in with punk style and incorporates bondage and fetishwear. Re-appropriating bondage to mainstream sensibility. Punk connotations are emerging. There is a fusion of punk style and gothic literature themes. There are subgenres within an umbrella of goth such as gothic punk, steam punk, techno goth. Hodkinson (2007) says only in the 1990s did fetishwear become a standard element of goth style. Goth also suggests alternative rock culture and incorporated piercings and tattoos.


This is an image of the fans from a Marilyn Manson gig at Manda Place in Milan. You can tell that these aren’t 1980s/70s goths. There is lots of fetish wear included in this style and corsetry but it is still advocating the gothic literature tradition of pale make up. Dog collars are worn here which are very different jewellery to Victorian accessories. Cheap fabrics are used.

Hebdige states that Subculture will always become mainstream. Street style reappears on the catwalk and in the media. For example the gothic style of Trinity in the Matrix, influenced people to wear long leather coats. Media influences street style and street style influenced the media.


Goths are still around today and the gothic style and literary tradition continues to inspired media figures and designers. Most of Alexander Mcqueens designs are influenced by Gothic subculture. Armani have been inspired by Gothic connotations of the spider and many other fashion designers have also adopted goth as an inspiration for their designs and clothing items.




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