Black is Back: Return of the Goth

Amidst all the retro fashion trends, goth seems to be coming back from the dead too. From catwalks to TV series, from teenagers’ wardrobes to paparazzi shots: bye bye the dopamine dressing room, hello Gothcore! But where does this sudden turnaround come from?

Braids, XXL pointed collars and a palette invaded by black? Chances are, just like your teenage daughter, you’ve been bingwatching lately. wednesday by Tim Burton. Even if the Netlfix series on the Addams clan undeniably inspires the outfits of teenagers, Gothcore (or “new gothic”) also imposes itself as a basic trend. It sure seems like the stars are in favor of the dark, romantic-melancholy style favored by TikTok and the climate crisis.

Wednesday ©Netflix

Down with populism

Gothic is a counterculture that has existed for over two centuries. The form we associate with the music scene originated in the 70s, as a branch of new wave. But its real roots go back much further, somewhere in the 19e century. Which explains the many Victorian influences, for example neo-Gothic architecture and the love for Edgar Allen Poe. This style betrays a nostalgia for the Middle Ages and the savage and opposes populism and consumerism. No wonder then that Gothic reappears in times when people are in search of authenticity.

Goth also helps to express dark emotions. Since the start of the Covid crisis, we have faced death and disease. The teenagers were locked up at home with their emotions and their feelings, which went hand in hand with a certain renunciation, sadness and introspection – pure gothic-romantic therefore.

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Streetstyle Milan & London Fashion Week

Desire for horror

A dark look and mood is also associated with a fascination with the dark side: monsters, vampires, death and Satanism. The origin of the term dates back to the Gothic Romanesque, popular in the 18e and 19e centuries. Romantic horror tales set in a medieval setting, filled with mystique, chills and references to the supernatural. Horror stories help us understand the world and our own anxieties.

In addition, this simulated anxiety allows us to forget our own problems a little. The boost that follows a microdose of terror is also addictive – after the tension, the relaxation. The Addams Family is small beer compared to the dark romanticism of The Essex Serpent Where His Dark Materials, TV series based on old stories. The recent wave of horror dramas with a touch of nostalgia – from Stranger Things to Dahmer – is to be placed in the same category.

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Streetstyle Milan & London Fashion Week

The goth girlfriend

The Gothic aesthetic therefore clings to our collective state of mind. Last year, the Design Museum Den Bosch even devoted an entire exhibition to this theme. Conversely, we are also inspired by what we see around us, on TV or on social networks. By the “Goth Girlfriend,” for example—the term the internet uses for all-black rockstar girlfriends like Kourtney Kardashian and Megan Fox. The black color – yet not very Instagrammable – gives them a rebellious side. It’s austere, but also sexy and it gives them a dose of streetcredibility.

Grimes, Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid are also big fans of the style. It is then above all their glamorous high fashion looks, rather than the original Gothic culture, which drive up the statistics on Google. Their dressing room is focused on a black palette, with lots of vinyl, embroidery, platform soles, corsets and chokers. Cross Rick Owens with Tim Burton and you will have an idea of ​​what it can give.

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From Goth Girlfriend: Megan Fox, Kendall Jenner to Bella Hadid

Goth nineties and nillies

In the meantime, all the trends of the 90s and 2000s have been revived. The fact that goth and emo influenced the fashion panorama over these decades also certainly plays a role. These were the years of the success of Alexander McQueen, very inspired by the Gothic, of Japanese like Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto and of the avant-garde of the Six of Antwerp – just as sparing in color.

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Junya Watanabe, Alexander McQueen in Givenchy F/W 22-23

Last winter, Gothics with well-stocked accounts were again able to buy from designers. Black leather abounds at Junya Watanabe, Hermès, Chloé and Balmain. For her Victorian dresses, black lace and fishnet stockings, Morticia Addams can go to Valentino, Bottega Veneta, Rochas and Alexander McQueen. Givenchy and Balenciaga also bet on black, rock t-shirts, thigh-high boots, sunglasses and piercings.

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Streetstyle Milan Fashion Week


Gothcore has also become one of the many microtrends on TikTok. But we cannot really speak of a true Gothic revival, at most of a contemporary interpretation. Gothcore occasionally borrows emo elements and often harkens back to the fantasy genre, much like horror series. There are also times when the style tips over to dystopiacore, another post-apocalyptic trend on TikTok that evokes the black outfits of Matrix.

Julia Fox, stijlicoon van dystopiacore

Sometimes Gothcore still clings to Dark Academy. This current TikTok values ​​student life. Or rather a romanticized version, which revolves around classical literature, poetry, Greek and Gothic architecture. To all this are obviously added the stereotypes of the college style. Which sends us back to the Nevermore Academy where Wednesday Addams lives out his dark adventures and writes books on a typewriter, dressed in a customized schoolgirl uniform.

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Black is Back: Return of the Goth