Goth Girl. Photo Credit: Alex Iby. A History of Goth Fashion.

A History of Goth Fashion

A History of Goth Fashion

If you’re an INTJ, you’ll probably have heard the stereotype that INTJs love black. And… that’s true. What’s not to love about the dark and powerful color? So, in the spirit of Halloween, and in connection with our annual all-black fashion focus, I thought it would be fun to talk about the history of a fashion style that celebrates the color black – gothic fashion.

The goth style was born from the British Punk movement as the 70’s died and gave way to the crazy 80’s. The original goth aesthetic is credited to the band Bauhaus and specifically the single, Bela Lugosi’s Dead, which was released in 1979. This serves as the inspiration for many gothic tropes such as references to undead, dark androgynous appearances, and macabre and eerie vocals.

Before goth was a full-fledged style, artists like David Bowie, Joy Division, and Siouxsie and the Banshees signaled a shift to androgyny, angst, and darker themes. From 1982 onwards, many bands (who were often labeled as post-punk or positive punk before goth was coined) performed in a London based nightclub called The Batcave. This became a place where bands and fans alike mixed, further developing the goth style. Dark femininity, as well as other stylistic aesthetics like sheer fabrics and fishnets, were made popular during this time.

While no one really knows who coined the term “goth,” the music journalists who attended these underground music scenes in an effort to discover new music trends popularized the term. From here, the style spread across Britain and beyond to become an international phenomenon. Young people began to adopt the style. In the mid 80’s, The Sisters of Mercy became one of the most well-known goth bands because their music was more accessible to the general public than earlier post-punk bands and their visual aesthetic was also less extreme. Their tamer interpretation of goth: cemented dark hair, pointed boots, tight black jeans, and shades also created the subgenre, gothic rock. Supported by music journalist, this version of goth was picked up by the masses beginning and throughout the early 1990’s.

In the mid 90’s, the media lost interest in goth culture, however, the fans have kept it going as a resilient subculture with many more sub-genres such as health goth, pastel goth, cybergoth, and Lolita goth (to name only a few). As the funny video below declares, today goth is more alive than ever, it’s undead!


Hodkinson, Paul. “Goth as a Subcultural Style.” Goth: Identity, Style and Subculture. Oxford,: Berg Publishers, 2002. 35–64. Dress, Body, Culture. Bloomsbury Fashion Central. Web. 04 Oct. 2018.

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