Saturday, 2 July 2011

Actually, WE lived our lives in black. YOU just jumped on the bandwagon.

When I wrote my article on 'post-punk Goth' fashion, I was unaware of the growing 'hipster Goth', or 'nu-goth' trend which has so dismayed many members of the scene in 2011. I mention this because post-punk Goth is both the music and the fashion of choice of, apparently, not just a certain breed of Gothlings who like their style relatively casual, high-fashion-inspired and a little edgy, 90s-style, but the latest strain of mallgoth appearing on the outskirts of Goth culture this year.

In case the above does not make it clear, I'll say it straight - if post-punk Goth, aka nu-Goth, as decribed by moi here, is your style of choice, this does not automatically make you a poseur or wannabe. Just like owning a special edition DVD of The Crow, a tube of black lipstick, or a pair of bondage pants - or even a Marilyn Manson CD - does not confine you straight to Mallgothville and damn you to an eternity of exclusion from the Goth scene proper. No, honestly, it doesn't.

The following diatribe is not directed at those Goths who simply happen to like and indulge in such a style of fashion. It is directed at those who had absolutely no interest in Goth until this year when it suddenly became trendy in certain circles to smoke Djarum Blacks, look moody, and post artsy black-and-white pictures of Ray-Bans and upside-down crosses on one's Tumblog.
Source: Google
As Goth Girl Problems sums up neatly: "2011: the year that every neon-loving hipster suddenly went Goth. :-/ I bind you, hipsters, I bind you from further adopting Goth culture as your latest trend." (Psst: definition of hipster, here.)

You like Goth? That's great. You like Goth because the hipster hivemind told you it was cool to wear all black and dig Alexander McQueen? That's considerably less great; as evidenced from the comments on my 'Goth vs. Twilight' post, we 'dodgy darklings' don't especially appreciate having our culture become a teen fad.

Y'see, fresh blood for Goth culture helps it grow - new events, new fashion derivatives, new sites, new blogs, new creative types bringing new music, art and fashion to the scene - and this is why, despite what you will read about elitist Goths looking down on scene newbies, a lot of us will go out of our way to welcome new bats on the block.

But when Goth is exploited as a trend just because it looks good (or 'cool' :-/) , by people who don't really have any interest in it, it doesn't grow. Hipsters who are dressing Goth and calling themselves Goth to appear artsy and fashionable are unlikely to be attending clubs and festivals, promoting events, joining forums and generally keeping the community side of the subculture fresh and alive for other participants. Instead they have branched off with their own clique-ish group of Tumblogs and moan about how those of us who wear pink boots and put falls in our hair 'aren't really Goth'.

I felt the need to post about this since I read something somewhere online stating that hipster's current predilection towards Goth-as-a-handy-bandwagon is 'destroying Goth'. I have to disagree with such a comment; these people are becoming Goth to look cool and feel 'dark', let's face it, they're not going to have any greater impact on the scene as a whole than the last generation of mallgoths, who, let's remember, were Mansonites, not hipsters.

This is just a new face of the mallgoth breed - a slightly more grown-up and refined version, but no more genuinely 'Goth' than the last. Sure, if Goth clubs and festivals were full of hipster kids practising their 'jaded' face and refusing to take their sunglasses off, we could have a problem, but currently that doesn't seem to be the case - these hipster mallgoths are usually too cynical to dance and socialise with cybergoths, vampire Goths and anyone else not fitting their snarky requirements of 'what Goth REALLY is'.

So to those hipsters who have jumped on the Goth bandwagon this year - 'we lived our lives in black'? Oh, no, you didn't. The last month is more like it.
Not just a trend...
Source: Tumblr


Duvessa said...

I dig Alexander McQueen :D Well his work :P

But then again I've been wearing black for last... umm... 15 years :D Never been a goth and I know how "older" people in any scene look newbies weird. Some might actually do it just because it's trendy but then realise later that's what they like and keep the thing going even when it falls off trend.

HattersMadGirl said...

You are right, it is really annoying how this "trend" evolved lately. I can’t go to a bookstore anymore without stumbling over another vampire book which is just utterly crap. Suddenly being a "twilighter" makes you goth. Goths and Emos are expected to be the same- atleast ’they all wear black, so there is no difference’.
The Mall-goth expanded to another level. For these hipster goths there is for their "baby-bat time" no end in sight.

But I have to admit that I feel a bit uneasy after reading your post not only because of this. Also, because slowly getting interested in the goth scene happened for me last (two) year or so, where this "trend" was not far away. I wonder if I became one of these hipsters myself? Subconciously, I mean? How can I know that I’m not one of them?

Luna said...

I think I have to look at this like I've looked at the rising trend in vampires in pop culture these last few years (and by that I mean the rise of Twilight, or the My Little Pony of vampires). Part of me hates that children and 20-somethings that would otherwise live normal, mainstream lives are dressing like this and reading these books and digging up albums just to drop it in a year or two. From that day forward they'll look at every goth they meet and think (or worse-yet SAY) "I went through that phase too." It's demeaning and insulting.

HOWEVER. The other part of me is kind of happy for the exposure. It means we're not dead yet. If watching Twilight gets a kid to read Dracula, and from there dig up other vampire literature, that's good. If taking a page from McQueen gets a hipster to suddenly appreciate gothic fashion for more than just its momentary appeal, that's also good. Is it the same as it used to be? No. But things that can change and evolve have a better chance surviving.

LovleAnjel said...


If you're asking yourself that question, you're not a hipster. Relax.

This type of thing has happened before, and it will happen again.

One thing to keep in mind: this will hit mainstream fashion stores, and then there will be a brief time period of clothes we like on the sales rack at 80% off. Just wait patiently like the evil geniuses we are, and it will come around to our advantage.

The Green Fairy said...

I love Ray Bans. Just saying that because I don't think anyone would be bothered reading a rant I had on Hipster. Fucking hipsters.

Instead I will leave you with this;

Claire said...

Anybody else feel like the fuckyeahgoths tumblr is hipsterish?

"98% of things referred to as goth are dreadful. This tumblr is for the 2% of brilliant."


Callasandra said...

I live somewhere, where people think goth is a horrible cult and all that garbage. So people don`t think its a trend. But I became intrested in goth a the beging of this year. And im not a mallgoth (I don`t think)Im a baby-bat.

Julietslace said...

I love that style of Goth, so simple and casual. But I think those ~hipsters~ are generally quite snobby and I don't appreciate that attitude being associated with our subculture.

Srsly the owner of Fuck Yeah Goths is so damn rude about other Goth styles.

Sara H. said...

I am aware of another trend, goths becoming hipsters.

Julianne said...

Hear hear. It weirds me out to see all these hipsters embracing casual goth style. I don't mind alternative subcultures getting more attention, but I agree with you that these people aren't really participating in the culture. A lot of them probably wouldn't be caught dead interacting with the majority of other goths.

I like to look at the fuckyeahgoths tumblr occasionally but I agree that its tagline is unnecessarily mean. If goth was all about that style it'd be a bit boring and I probably wouldn't like it much at all. I like the variety in goth.

Anyway, I live my life in purple, so nyah.

TheKidInBlack said...

I have yet to encounter any of these new wave of Mallgoths, and I certainly hope not.

Minakitty said...

Initially, I really liked FYGoths, since the general aesthetic reminded me of my high school self (in a small town in the 80s, where the only place you could find out about amazing music was taping 120 Minutes or straining to listen to a fuzzy Toronto station). I was unaware of this annoying trend, and now instead of seeing FYGoths as possibly run by someone around my age who just misses "the way things were", I only see another trendsucker (especially the holier than thou stance).

And to Green Fairy, that was the funniest thing I've seen/heard in ages-thanks! :)

from the perspective of a New York-based goth girl said...

I might have slightly different perspective on the "hipster goth" (hah!) style due to my age and geographical location. I'm 32 years old, and I work during the day in the Soho neighborhood of New York (where a bit of the fashion industry is located). Despite my identifying as "a goth" for 16 years, I actually have quite a bit of respect for this new style of "minimal high fashion goth" or whatever you want to call it (my friend calls it "Parisian Cyborg style" :).

Although my own style is quite Victorian (the opposite of minimal? hah), I can see the creativity that goes into creating a new type of dark aesthetic, and I can appreciate the dark minimalist aesthetic as an offshoot of Gothic that is truly stemming from the same source.

Around Soho, you can frequently see very creatively-dressed people displaying a really thoughtful minimalist Gothic style inspired by Rik Owens, etc. A lot of these folks are also older (30s and 40s), and might not take part in Gothic subculture by going to dance clubs etc, but they certainly do by designing fashion, making art, creating literature, styling photoshoots, etc. I might remind you that Gothic has always had a literary/artistic/etc wing of folks who don't really go in for "scene events" like clubs -- in fact, they may not even look "gothic" -- but who still strongly identify as Gothic or dark romantic and contribute to the aesthetic in a meaningful way.

The folks you're observing being cliquish on Tumblr are probably not the folks I see around Soho (I doubt the latter have time for Tumblr accounts). I'd suspect that the tumblr re-bloggers are just parroting the people they see in magazines etc -- I'd also be willing to bet they're younger than the folks I see in Soho, who are actually designing and creating the art and aesthetic that's then consumed (*cough*or posted without copyright*cough*) on Tumblr.

If you read Valerie Steele's "Gothic" exhibition book from the recent fashion exhibit at FIT Museum in New York, you'll see that Rik Owens very clearly identifies as a goth himself, and says he loves to see goths who are younger than him, and that he considers these goths to be his "children". I guess I had a new respect for his work after I read that. :)

In any case, I hope that you won't judge the whole style by some depressing idiots on Tumblr. ;) Despite hangers-on who might adopt the style as a phase, I definitely think it has its roots in legitimate art, and is sincerely meant as a contribution to dark culture.

Minakitty said...

The trendy types will no doubt move onto something else when they become bored. I do think it makes a fantastic style option for an "elder" goth such as myself, especially since anything too fussy would just get in the way at work. Plus I just positively swoon over earlier minimalist design such as what was coming out of Japan in the 80s.

Like the style, pass on the attitude!:)

DJ Creepshow said...

Goth has been exploited for the last 20 years, it's not a new thing. Every few years or so the fashion industry and the media jump in and squeeze a bit more blood out of the stone. Yes, I hate hipsters too and Fuck Yeah Goths is pretty damn hipster-y. But they're not the first to jump on the bandwagon and won't be the last. I'd be curious to see what many of the people here are into in 5-10 years.

Also, "post-punk" is what the original goth was part of. Goth was born out the 70s punk scene. I've actually taken to referring to my style as more post-punk than goth, simply because of all the negative connotations that accompany goth now. Sadly, the hipsters are ruining post-punk for us now too. Thanks a lot, you smarmy little pricks.

I hate hipsters...did I mention that?

Anonymous said...

I honestly don't care. Furthermore, I find this whole "Hipster Goth" bashing trend to be downright immature. So some are doing it to be cool. As if no one else has joined the subculture to be cool? I know plenty like this. They're just better at hiding it. I don't care if Hipsters dress in all black and listen to post punk. Just so long as it doesn't keep me from doing what I like to do, who cares?

It's the same lame thing. Let's bash this group and feel all special about ourselves because we're "doing it right" and they aren't! If someone is enjoying themselves (and not harming themselves or others) I couldn't care less. Let 'em do it.

"they're not going to have any greater impact on the scene as a whole than the last generation of mallgoths, who, let's remember, were Mansonites, not hipsters."

Not true. Many of those "mallgoths" or "mansonites" you so hate became some of the most dedicated members in the subculture you see today. You wouldn't know this seeing how you were probably a child in the 90's when these "mallgoths" were going through their baby bat phases. Marilyn Manson was a gateway band for many people in adopting/being introduced to a new aesthetic. In which they went on to seek out other things in that vein of all things "dark" and "spooky". Which for many included the Goth subculture. While some may hate Marilyn Manson or Hot Topic you can't deny it did bring in fresh blood. Thus effecting "the scene". And, for the better I might add. No new members means a dead subculture. Just ask the Beatniks.

"Instead they have branched off with their own clique-ish group of Tumblogs and moan about how those of us who wear pink boots and put falls in our hair 'aren't really Goth'."

I've seen Goths act like this (ever talk to any deathrockers lately?). Actually that whole paragraph sounds like a bunch of Goths I know. This isn't anything new. Nor is it exclusive behaviour to "hipster goths".

"these hipster mallgoths are usually too cynical to dance and socialise with cybergoths, vampire Goths and anyone else not fitting their snarky requirements of 'what Goth REALLY is'."

Once again, I've seen Goths display this behavior. Actually this whole article is filled with behaviors that are not uncommon in the goth scene (and was around long before this new "hipster goth" development cropped up). If you're going to call out such behaviors it would be wise to do so on a general scale. Particularly when Hipster Goths are definitely not the first to do it nor will they be the last.

Hipster Goth is just another faction that will inevitably be tacked on to the ever growing list of subsections in the subculture. If one does not particularly care for it, then fine. But, don't demonize it or try to disassociate it with the subculture simply based on your own personal opinions.

ultimategothguide said...

@ Anonymous - I'm not disassociating the style with the subculture ( just saying that some people have battened onto Goth because it's trendy rather than because they actually like or enjoy it. As you said, i they are enjoying it let 'em be, but I think that some are doing it because they want other people to think they're cool rather than because they genuinely enjoy it, which is what I take issue with.

Also, I have not at any point said I 'hate' mallgoths or mansonites. Actually I have said much the same thing as you have regarding this in other posts (fresh blood, an introduction to the scene, etc). There are also mallgoths around today, not just in the 90s, so I fail to see how my age is a factor here...?

I agree with a lot of what you are saying, especially about 'real' Goths displaying similar behaviour, so fair enough, perhaps I should have been more general when criticising such.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I just thought your article had some interesting points. I personally am someone who's been a long-time fan of goth music, and I got into the whole hipster goth thing when it first started picking up some steam in 2009. However, since then the whole scene has changed and mutated, and these days I find myself agreeing more and more with some of the critiques of the scene that I've been reading. I just thought I'd shed some light on what appealed to me about the hipster goth scene in the first place, and how it ended up becoming what it is today.

I had mostly been into Deathrock revival type stuff, but by 2008, a lot of my favorite bands in the scene had broken up, and as a result I started looking to see where else there were good current bands. I had other problems with the scene at the time too-I had been getting more and more interested in early Industrial, EBM, and Darkwave, as well as other electronic music, and my fashion fashion sense had been getting more casual and subdued-which was getting me a lot of shit for not being a "real deathrocker". At the time, there had been a wave of shoegaze/post-punk inspired indie rock bands coming out, and those bands, at the time, really spoke to me. As I got more into indie music, I met a lot of people who were also big fans of goth music who had left the deathrock scene much as I had, as well as people who had been long time fans of goth music but had never really been involved with the scene directly. More and more, the fans of goth music within the indie scene started coalescing into their own little community-soon bands were forming, DIY grassroot labels sprung up to support the bands, and by 2009, there was a thriving community within the indie scene producing goth and goth inspired music-Zola Jesus, Blessure Grave, Grave Babies, Kasms, Cold Cave, and so on. Now, you may not like these bands personally, but let me just say from experience that the people behind all these bands were long time fans of goth music who, when interviewed, demonstrated a pretty comprehensive knowledge of goth music. For a while, it was a great scene, and the only real place in the goth community where the music was more important than the fashion or posturing. Sometimes we got shit from other goths for not being "real goths", but at the time the complaints usually ran along the lines of "It takes more than just listening to goth music and wearing goth to be a goth you know! You've gotta dress outrageously and hate your life and despise the NORMS." This was pretty easy for me to ignore. For me, any music-based scene should focus on the music, and any time that fashion and posturing take precedence over that, the quality of music usually suffers. Don't get me wrong, I love to get dressed up, but music comes first. And in 2009, in the indie-goth community(as I personally prefer to call it) it absolutely did.
(Continued in next post)

Anonymous said...

(Continued from last post)
Things slowly began to change, however. At first it seemed innocent enough-the indie-goth community started to develop it's own specific fashion style-the mix of loose black shirts, black nailpolish/makeup, and inverted crosses which we all are familiar with by now. At first I loved it-the fashion was at the time very thrift-store/DIY based, mostly people buying loose black shirts at thrift stores and silk-screening inverted crosses on them themselves. It was an elegant, minimal, beautiful look that I completely fell in love with.

Unfortunately, there was money to be made.

Mishka, a street-wear company which had at that point completely exhausted that whole neon fashion-core bullshit style, needed something new to latch on to to sell clothing. After they discovered the indie-goth community, Mishka promptly began selling and aggressively marketing the clothing style, and before long the style had taken on a life of it's own. Soon fashion blogs had coined the term "Nu Goth" (which I absolutely hate as a term, but unfortunately it seems to have stuck). Guides were being circulated on tumblr about how to be nu-goth, guides which spent most of their time talking about the clothes and only mentioned the music in passing at the end, if they mentioned it at all. And now the scene is being flooded with more and more people who have no interest in the music, and just like the clothes-which is the absolute antithesis of what the scene was supposed to be all about. Today, I hear people criticizing the indie-goth scene which I used to love so much because "If you don't listen to any goth music, why would you claim to be goth?"

And they're completely right.

For now, there are still enough people in the scene who are either long term fans of the music or newbies who express a sincere interest in the music and make actual effort to learn about it for me to not abandon it just yet. But there's also a flood of boring, empty-headed fashonistas who have no interest in goth music whatsoever.

I'm not entirely sure why I'm posting this. I guess as a bit of a cautionary tale. But mostly, just because the boring vapid fashionistas seem to be getting a lot more attention than the great music and genuine fans. I guess I just want to make sure a few people know that there was more to the whole hipster-goth thing than an empty fashion trend, because these days I worry more and more that the music which I fell in love with in 2009 will only be remembered as an accessory for a vapid fashion trend. Zola Jesus deserves better than that.

Anonymous said...

Whelp, just read through some of the other posts on this blog, and it's pretty clear that the author is already pretty well aware of the good side to the whole indie-goth thing, what with the positive mentions of Zola Jesus and Witch House.

So uh...I guess that kinda renders my last two gigantic posts irrelevant, and kinda bad.

InfiltratorN7 said...

Wow this is a fad that's passed me by. I wasn't aware of hipster goth and haven't met anyone who sounds like this yet. I have come across that Fuck Yeah Goths site and yes it does come across as a bit arrogant in attitude - who are they to judge that 90% of things that are goth suck? Also, fascinating reading by Anonymous. I was even les aware about indie goth music or those bands mentioned. I have heard of witchhouse music though and was recommended by a colleague to check out some artists in this genre. Also the comment from the New York-based girl was interesting. Maybe this a subset you come across more in the major cities.

Darling Violetta said...

This whole Hipster Goth witch hunt that has taken over the online goth world is SO annoying. Mostly, people are getting their information on this from the internet or gleaming what they can from tumblr. We all know how reliable that can be. Just because kids are wearing black lipstick and inverted crosses and being snarky to goths on Tumblr doesn't mean anything about real life. 99% of the people who say "all" of the hipster goths they met were pretentious or rude are going off of some Tumblr incident (or are just referring to the "Fuck Yeah Goths!" tumblr). Yeah, real accurate. A quick look at the post from the goth girl from New York is proof of this. It's just another silly online war much like the goths vs. cyber goths back in the day. It will pass.

Also, what the Anonymous poster above me said is true. A lot of the late 90's and early 2000's deathrock crowd went on to form bands like Blessure Grave, Loto Ball, and Zola Jesus. And most of the deathrock crowd of that time went on to be their major fanbase (seeing how much of the deathrock scene already loved bands like The Phantom Limbs and Swann Danger it's not too surprising). It's no lie that the current state of music in the goth world is at a stand still. Sure, bands are touring (mostly bands that have been around for a while). But, no new development is taking place. Lots of deathrockers I knew from back then are now primarily into witchhouse, mutant wave, or dark indie bands because the goth music scene took a HUGE pitfall after 2006 (even Drop Dead Festival these days hosts bands that are beloved within the "hipster goth" scene). Most of the deathrockers back then were madly passionate about the music. So, they went were they could experience fresh new bands. Anyhow, in my opinion, goth isn't a music scene but a culture that envelopes all artistic pursuits that purport a certain aesthetic. So you can see why I think this hipster goth thing could potentially be a new branch to be enveloped under the umbrella term that is goth. After all, I do know some goth clubs that are playing witchhouse in their sets these days.

I say let's squash this insessant whining on this subject. It's making the community look whiny.

Anonymous said...

About "not contributing"...what's your opinion on people like Zola Jesus or Grimes? It looks to me like the hipster-goths really are trying to create an independent "goth" scene. Grimes, in particular, loves to talk about how ignorant she is about everything that came before her...are they starting to choke us out?

Mallgoths weren't a threat to community integrity, but hipster-goths that start making their own music could re-write history, since those on the outside (even those who should know better) now really can't tell the difference.

(Not to mention some genuine goths I know who are starting to accept these new bands...I don't even know what to make of that.)

Anonymous said...

In comment to Darling Violetta:

I don't think it's over yet. This will leave a mark.

Amy Asphodel said...

I have noticed the growing acceptance amongst Goths of the nu-Goth bands; I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing as the subculture already incorporates so many subgenres and influences that I don't feel another can do much harm. However you raise an interesting point. As far as I'm aware Zola Jesus and the other nu-Goth musicians tend to object to being referred to as Goth which could perhaps lessen their associations with the scene. On the other hand, neither The Sisters, The Cure et al particularly appreciate being referred to as Goth either!

I haven't heard of Grimes but I will be looking her up; most hipster Goths I have come into contact with don't actually regard themselves as Goth and simply appreciate the aesthetic and/or music associated with the nu-Goth label, but from your comment it sounds as though this person doesn't have the same kind of attitude - I feel that if you're going to borrow from a subculture you should have some sort of respect for its origins.

Anonymous said...

I personally love dark indie music(supposed nu-goth) but I also LOVE bands like Skeletal Family, Xmal Deutschland, The Cure, Coctaeu Twins,Bauhaus,The Sisters of Mercy, etc. as well as other non got bands, Amon Tobin, Bjork, The sneaker Pimps,etc that I have been listening to for years.

I am listening to Witch house right now(checking it out)and I kind of like it. Its really experimental music but its not goth, just like I think Cyber and Steampunk aren't goth.

Its just a different genre of music. We allow those two genres (Cyber and Steampunk)to attach themselves to goth but not genres like Dark Indie or even some Etheral Witch house that I feel is closer ties to Darkwave, ethereal, or post- punk influences? I personally think that someone like Zola Jesus, or Cold cave are closer to being "goth" than EBM or Steampunk renaissance fair folky hippie music. My honest opinion.

I'm just saying I like a band Called Bat for lashes, definitely not goth but she sounds like Siouxsee, mixed with Bjork. Has she not been influenced by either? She's not goth but is definitely influned by Siouxsee(which also doesn't call herself goth btw.)

So I really feel like it's time that we open up the scene away from pvc and rivetheads and let some new folks in that obviously have been influenced by the subculture. being goth is about artistic expression.

Anonymous said...

NOT promoting events doesn't mean you're NOT Goth either. Hanging out in clubs constantly doesn't make you any more "goth" than others. NOT taking off your glasses doesn't necessarily mean you're not Goth as well (that example in your writing was a bit silly).

I've been associated with the Goth scene for 14 years now and don't "promote," or hang out at clubs (like my friends do. boring.), and I usually like to keep my glasses on since I feel more secure with them. My point is, I certainly don't think I'm a "posuer" for not doing all those things you say we should or shouldn't do. Anyhow, we all know true Goth comes from within, not how you dress; especially since everyone has a subjective opinion when it comes to fashion for a particular sub-genre. I hope people within this sub-culture can be less narrow-minded since Goth is about exploring the unusual, and we all know "Unusual" and narrow-minded don't mix.

Anonymous said...

Whoops, I just posted something in the wrong spot, so I'll write it again here: I certainly hope you post my comment I wrote from the other day.

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