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Anumitha Apollo
Anumitha Apollo

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7 Fashion Subcultures

Fashion Subcultures

Fashion is primarily divided by cultures. Fashion subculture are groups of fashion which can be distinguished by their characteristic attires, looks, and ornamentations.

Subcultures are big enough to be a separate category but are subsets of the broad category of culture. Subcultures are distinct groups under cultures.

Fashion subcultures originated based on constructing distinctiveness by distinguishing themselves in defiance to conventional, orthodox, accepted, and trending fashion.

They do not abide by any rules or common practices in their fashion. Subcultures create their own radical style and the goal is exclusivity and uniqueness.

There are loads of fashion subcultures from across the world. Here are some of the fashion subcultures :


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A contemporary or 21st-century subculture. The subculture that values independence, progressive nature, counter culture, and everything indie, especially music (rock) and art.

Being hipster means not following or wearing anything mainstream. Never conforming to trends, but focuses on predicting what could be trends in the future.
Whatever is hipster today is most likely to be tomorrow's trend in the mainstream fashion world. The Hipster subculture is mainly based on rock culture and indie music. Hipster as such isn't a fashion subculture, but a word that represents rebels and people who conform to counter-culture.

Fashion plays a significant role in their representation and identification. Their fashion typically characterized by vintage clothes and other non-mainstream fashion, skinny jeans, checked shirts, an ironic mustache or full beard, and big glasses. The hipster culture originated in the United States.


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It began as a youth movement in the 1960s and spread to other countries around the world. The word hippie came from hipster, to describe the Beat generation (1940's).
The rebels and dropouts of the Haight-Ashbury community of San Francisco-generated one of the most influential of history's dress reform movements. Their style was so outrageous and unpredictable that it alone could have made the hippie movement impossible to ignore.
Their lifestyles and fashion were built upon San Francisco and California's tradition of destruction of traditions. Another important part was the precedent provided by the young ready-to-wear designers of London, whose international impact began in the late 1950s (Beat generation).

Hippie fashion, values, and morals had a major effect on culture, influencing popular music, television, film, literature, and the arts. Since the 1960s, mainstream society has taken in many aspects of hippie culture.
The religious and cultural diversity of the hippies community has gained widespread acceptance, and their pop versions of Asian culture has also a large reach.

Heavy metal

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The Heavy metal subculture is based on heavy metal music. Attending and active participation in heavy metal concerts is a major reflection of the subculture. Collection of all albums, long hair (most members), studded or patched jackets or vests, leather or faux leather jackets are some of the characteristic fashion of the heavy metal subculture. The metal scene in general, is allied with alcohol, tobacco, and drug use as well as riding motorcycles and lots of tattoos.

Many of this subculture's members are provincial and intolerant towards other music genres, which reflects on their behavior. Some heavy metal songs promote drinking, smoking, drug use, gambling, having tattoos, and partying while some others contradict. Black is the primary color in their fashion.
Heavy metal fans go by a number of different names, including metalhead, headbanger, hesher, mosher, and heavy.


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Punk as dress cannot be discussed without at least some reference to its musical background. Punks subculture is regarded as a formative movement in both sight and sartorial representation, and a unique style.
Furthermore, punk culture stands as a focal point in the progress of the youth cultural style and its commodification. Vivienne Westwood designs, styles modeled on bands like The Exploited and the dressed-down look of North American hardcore define the style of punk fashion.

Influences of other subcultures and art movements, including glam rock, skinheads, rude boys, greasers, and mods are seen in punk fashion. The popular culture also has a major influence on Punk fashion. Clothing is a medium to make bold and daring statements by the punks.


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Having emerged in the wake of punk during the 1980s, Gothic culture existed for almost 2 decades, a different form of youth culture.
The Gothic subculture members can easily be identified by their characteristic dark glamour in appearance. They have a mysterious and homogeneous style. Dark clothing (mostly black), dark lipstick, black hair, male and female goths wear dark eyeliner and dark nail polish - most often black, these are all characteristic features of the Gothic fashion.

Styles are often influenced by the punk fashion, Victorians and Elizabethans. Goth fashion is sometimes confused with heavy metal fashion and emo fashion. Valerie Steele is an expert in the history of the style.
Ted Polhemus's description of Gothic Fashion" profusion of black velvets, lace, fishnets and leather tinged with scarlet or purple, accessorized with tightly laced corsets, gloves, precarious stilettos and silver jewelry depicting religious or occult themes".
Gothic fashion can most easily be recognized by their characteristic black.

Variations of Gothic fashion

  • Deathrock
  • Haute Goth
  • Gothic Lolita
  • Aristocrat
  • Cybergoth
  • Traditional Goth


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In visual arts, music, and other media, minimalism is an art movement that began in post–World War II Western art. This the base for the minimalist fashion subculture.

In fashion context minimalism concentrates more on the form and fabric than on the function of the clothing and usage of a monochrome palette. The main principal behind minimalist fashion is simplicity.

Those fine, neutral-filled wardrobes are one aspect of minimalist fashion, specifically minimalist fashion as an aesthetic.
While minimalist fashion may be perceived as shapeless, the point of such clothing is minimalism in terms of putting together the garment as well.
A simple yet elegant style is a characteristic of this subculture.


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Grunge is an alternative rock genre and subculture that emerged during the mid-1980s in the American Pacific Northwest state of Washington.
The word "grunge" is American slang for "someone or something that is repugnant" and also for "dirt". Grunge fashion was developed by Generation X (70s and 80s) and is a reflection of their frustration with the side effects of the eighties economical upswing.
This explains why grunge is mainly fashionable in first world countries. Many were beginning to see the effects of capitalism and didn't support it.

They don't conform to classes made by society and were annoyed by the idea of human value being defined by money and property. They didn't approve of ”serving the machine” which is the mainstream career-oriented lifestyle. In their opinion, human life was being sacrificed too much for something pointless like a 9 to 5 job.

Music, fashion, tv, and movies; all reflected a sense that the generation had no desire to participate in the status quo. Grunge fashion is characterized by durable and timeless thrift-store clothing, often worn in a loose, androgynous manner to remove the spotlight on the silhouette.

The style was popularized by music bands Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Men wore second-hand or shabby T-shirts with slogans, band logos, etc. and women started wearing clunky combat boots and Doc Martens.
They typically wore slip dresses with flannels, flannels and ripped jeans, and plaid in layers. Marc Jacobs was the first designer who brought grunge to the luxury platform. The grunge fashion is low-priced yet very durable.

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