Subcultures were definitely a thing before the pandemic. But since everyone’s been navigating this new world of social distancing and limited face-to-face interactions, we’ve seen an acceleration in this development, especially online.
Subcultures mostly involve exploring and taking a deep dive into specific worlds and styles. It has become a way for people to express themselves better and create avenues to channel creative energy.
And which better online social media platform to scroll through for creative, innovative, and out-of-the-box content than TikTok? In this article, we’re shedding light on some TikTok subcultures and how it’s taking the Internet and even the fashion world by storm.
TikTokers have been banding together into communities subscribed to a hashtag with a noun + “core” suffix. Examples are the countryside-enamored #cottagecore community, the mildly odd fantasy world-loving #goblincore, and primary color-clad #clowncore.
Still with us? We’ll be giving you just the tip of the iceberg with these TikTok subcultures.
Cottagecore is inspired by quaint, dreamlike, rural aesthetics and lifestyle. The signature cottagecore look is a prairie dress with puff sleeves with a matching handwoven bag, and minimal makeup. The niche has a romantic take on abundant yet simple, solitary life in the countryside, particularly in – you guessed it – cottages.
TikTok videos you will see under this category will often show green pastures, various plants and nature, flowy dresses, picnics, and all that fall under the same style board. Icons in the fashion movement are Laura Ashley, Jessica McClintock’s Gunne Sax, and Selkie, who all produce dresses perfect for this niche style.
The fashion world has taken an interest in this aesthetic, too. Famous American clothing brand Rodarte released a floral print prairie dress line for spring 2021, shot in the greenery of California hills.
2. Dark Academia
Think Harry Potter, but more fashionable. This is what you’ll find within the realm of dark academia, TikTok. The signature dark academia style board has quaint libraries, old European decor, classic literature, leather shoes, and woolen or plaid sweaters.
“Dark academia romanticizes a time when the upper classes of society emphasize liberal education. An interest in classical literature, languages such as Latin, Greek or French, architecture, art, poetry, and fashion from Western Europe characterize the subculture,” L’Officiel notes in its deep dive into the subculture.
Dark academia TikTokers are often clad in earth tone attires and are holding leather-bound books or using a quill for writing.
Staples in the fashion world that fit right into this subculture are Oxford shirts, tweed turtlenecks, brogues, Chelsea boots, blazers, trench coats, and the like.
3. E-Girls and E-Boys
On the other end of the spectrum opposing cottagecore and dark academia is the e-girl subculture. This style amalgamates scene, goth, and punk aesthetics from the early-to-mid-2000s.
The signature e-girl look is fishnet stockings (and even arm sleeves), bangs that cover your eyes just enough, hair highlights, plaid skirts, and worn-out band shirts.
What’s the modern twist on this amalgam of rehashed styles? The cyber influence. The subculture of e-girls and e-boys originated from the gaming world. Thus, e-girls and e-boys often have giant headphones and anime-inspired accessories and clothing to complete their getup.
In the fashion world, iconic brand Celine has taken a liking to this subculture, producing its spring 2021 men’s collection, which drew major inspiration from e-boy and skater boy culture.
Similar to cottagecore, goblincore aims to showcase a romanticized take of nature but takes it a step further into the realm of fantasy. Within this subculture of what’s called “fairycore” clothing, pastel-colored hair, and tiny charms and accessories.
Goblincore TikTokers greatly appreciate nature, going on hikes, learning about different species of plants, insects, and animals, and creating stories out of their experiences with nature.
Of course, The Lord of the Rings and similar fantasy pop culture icons are also in the mix. Insects, mushrooms, and other objects found in nature are usually adorned in goblincore attire as well.
To some, goblincore has transcended its status of being just “aesthetics” or a trendy “style.” Some goblins have found a community where sexuality and gender preference become obsolete.
“For me, as an autistic nonbinary individual, I find goblincore as a safe community,” says Sküg, 19, to VICE, “It’s difficult, as an autistic person, to explain my gender and what it feels like. I identify as a goblin since, to me, goblins are little sneaky critters with no real sense of gender identity.
They just collect and steal things and hang out in the woods. Another thing I find to be a big part of the goblincore community is escaping society and living in the woods. Part of this is wanting to get away from all the societal standards that are set in place.”
To end the list piquing your interest, let’s talk about witchtok. Witchtok is one of the more nichey-er subcultures that focuses primarily on health and wellness. The main thing for the people subscribed to witchtok is the community it has developed, but they’ve definitely come to create their own style in the process.
Witchtok TikTokers can be seen donning amulets, pendants, and other jewelry, holding gems and stones, and are usually in naturally lit rooms. Outfits are usually of the long, flowy, black dress variety.
TikTok foreseeing the future of fashion
As seen in some of the entries, the fashion world is definitely all eyes and ears for the up-and-coming trends originating from TikTok.
To further prove that the platform has been a vanguard in style trends, we’ve seen Marc Jacobs taking initiatives to jumpstart a subculture-esque division of his label called Heaven, which is heavily inspired by the Y2K and punk aesthetics.
Prominent names such as Rick Owens, Marine Serre, and Anna Sui have also shown interest in the emerging categories.
This shows how vital the platform has become as an avenue for the youth of today to express and explore identities and even cultures altogether. We’ve seen that when innovative young minds come together and are free to collaborate, brainstorm, and create, the possibilities are endless, both online and offline.
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