Fashion is an industry based around culture and communities. Designers become inspired by their surroundings and in turn their clothing is a representation of the cultures they immerse themselves in. But there are also communities which form based around fashion and common interests within a way of dressing, whether that be due to influences from external sources or their own desire to stand out. These are subcultures.
Subcultures often form in opposition to mainstream culture, and as a form of self-expression. There have been a variety of subculture communities emerge over time. Some have even came to define the decades they emerged in, such as the 1960s and hippie fashion. However, the subcultures we see emerging now are very unique and interesting.
Since the 20th century, subcultures and communities have always been involved within fashion. But what we are starting to see in the digital age is these subcultures take on a new form. The rapid growth of technology and social media means those being exposed to digital media from a young age, such as Generation Z, are receiving a huge amount of information about music, fashion, religion, and other cultures all at the click of a button. Because of this, we can see communities forming around a wide variety of specific, intricate influences.
Whilst the disco fashion of the 1980’s was influenced by the widespread emergence of disco music, the cultures emerging now are a product of people being able to access any information they want about anything at the click of a button. The influences behind a subculture are becoming much more abstract and complex.
We will be taking a look 3 examples of popular fashion subcultures which can be seen on social media within Gen Z, how to identify them, and why their origins are so interesting.
E-Boy/Girl, stands for Electronic-Boys/Girls. This group emerged almost exclusively from the influences of social media and has been widely popularised through TikTok. The community takes inspirations from a variety of influences and bring them together in a culmination. Influences include skating, the 90s, anime, goth culture, and music. One of the most notable modern influences on this community has been Billie Eilish.
You will often find E-Boy/Girls wearing long sleeve striped t-shirts under another baggy t-shirt, lots of chains of other jewellery, painted finger nails, and most likely wearing CDG Converse.
Another subculture popularised via TikTok, it is difficult to describe a VSCO Girl but easy to spot one. The best way to describe a VSCO Girl is through painting a picture.
VSCO girls are usually always in oversized t-shirts or sweatshirts, so big they almost cover the pair of Brandy Melville shorts they are wearing, and a pair of Birkenstocks. On their back is a Kanken backpack by Fjallraven, in their hand a HydroFlask water bottle, and in their hair or on their wrist a scrunchie. The best description I have come across for a VSCO Girl is “the type to spend 20 minutes making their messy buns look just so”
The name is derived from the photography app VSCO, where the aesthetic of the community originated. The VSCO Girl community is influenced by a hyperspecific group of traits including environmentalism, Instagram filters, scrunchies, and sea shell necklaces.
‘Born in the wrong generation’:
“Have you ever heard of Pulp Fiction? Probably not…”
This type of person has always been around – people will always lament the golden ages of the past. However, this particular idea of being ‘born in the wrong generation’ has amassed a specific following with Gen Z, and become a meme amongst mainstream culture.
Influenced by finding out about a particular culture, movement, or movie of the past, this community become nostalgic for a time they were never a part of. Many who are part of this group ironically become influenced by the same thing. They may have just watched Pulp Fiction and now lament the “downfall of cinema”. Or they might have heard a Led Zeppelin song, and now feel music “isn’t the same anymore”. Or more recently, just watched Stranger Things and now feel in touch with the 80’s. The inspirations are usually very similar for those in this community.
The attire of this group is usually very obvious, and all purchased from Depop or Vinted. The outfit of this group includes a graphic band tee under a flannel shirt, a classic shoe such as a Chuck Taylor or Nike Cortez, and some worn-in Levi’s. If you want to spot one, you will probably find this community in a classic record store, sifting through demos and B-sides.
Generation Z and Community
Although some of these cultures emerging may appear trivial, they are important to examine to show why fashion and communities play such a big role in creating identities. These communities come together through a particular, unique set of influences to encourage collaboration and communication between people with common interests.
At a time when young people are finding it harder than ever to identity themselves and fit in, these subcultures provide the opportunity to become part of a community and part of something bigger than themselves.
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