Hip-hop subculture

Hip hop emerged in the 1980’s in New York, particularly in poverty stricken areas. Arising from Brooklyn as Hip Hop was a way of black cultural identity, and a way of self-expression. Like the Goths, they weren’t afraid to break rules and make a complete statement to do with fashion and the clothes they wore. The subculture started to wear sports clothing where sport clearly wasn’t going to be taking place. Again, they transformed things and gave those new meanings and use. To this gang, oversized sportswear had just come casual and everyday attire. This made conspicuous consumption clear as a way of status and showing off branding. The thick gold chains were also a way to show wealth. Adidas got involved with Hip Hop icons such as Run DMC to promote their brands further and gain more popularity. Back then it was identified through brand and you could easily identify someone who was apart of the gang, almost like a secret code. Afro centrism was also a way of showing references to their culture and where they’re from. This included garments with African textile printed and the African colours.

What have I learnt today?

  • Conspicuous consumption.
  • Political statements shown in fabrics to show identification.
  • Subcultures show differences from the mainstream.
  • Brands adopted by the street style to gain more customers – catering for a particular style.
  • Resignification – changing the meaning through concept.
  • Borrow elements from the past, and change it (magpie syndrome)

How is this case study similar to Goth?

  • Cultural context
  • Symbolism to convey meanings.
  • Modification.
  • Borrowing from the past.
  • Rebellion – going against rules.



Goth Subculture

At the start I was dreading the whole essay writing as I haven’t had much experience with referencing, however, we were introduced to ‘Cath’s columns’ and I feel that this format will help me group my information and reference correctly without forgetting ‘theory’ to back my argument. This will enable me to create a better flowing essay ready for hand in which is in December. The first subculture we looked at was Goth, (one of my favourites), which began in Britain in the early 1980’s.

We analysed a particular image of Goth and used the column to describe the image, analyse and then look through the case studies to prove our thoughts. Goth subculture is interesting to me as I find myself with similar taste. I’m always in black and my wardrobe consists of the colour. I’ve always said ‘I’ll stop wearing black when they invent a darker colour…’  What subcultures do is make you realise where you’ve taken your interests from.

How to identify a Goth?

  • The use of extreme black clothing, pale white foundation, extreme black eyeliner, body piercing, unusual hair style.
  • Fascination with Victorian style.
  • Wearing symbols, such as the cross and the pentacle, and satanic pentacle.
  • Fascination with death, the undead.

The Goths changed the Victorian style, clearly identifying they weren’t from that era but chose to modify it and turn it into  ‘Victoriana’. The paleness of the makeup could closely be associated with a vampire. The goths broke a lot of rules, as makeup was known to enhance a woman’s features and make her look attractive, yet they had white faces with thick black makeup. Again, breaking the rules. Making themselves look undead, like a corpse, hence why their clothing has the use of spider webs, coffins, and crosses.  Not only that, but their clothing was ripped, demonstrating the motif of decay. Even the lace trims at the bottle of the dress were torn and various lengths. I find it fascinating how the textiles appeals to various meanings within clothing. Designers who have used gothic style – Vivienne Westwood, Marc Jacobs, Thierry Mugler and Alexander McQueen.

How can this session relate to my practise?

  • Themes expressed visually
  • Taking something from the past and making it new – modification
  • Different themes
  •  Cultural context
  • Gender
  • Symbolism to convey meanings
  • Literary context – style influenced by the past.


Smells Like Teen Spirit

Subcultures & Street style

This term I chose ‘smells like teen spirit’ for my constellation group. I was excited when finding out about this topic as I have always been interested in the various subcultures that started off in the 70’s, especially with developing certain fashion traits. Not forgetting I am a huge Nirvana fan and love the song! As well as their many other great songs. I love Kurt Cobain as I think his songs were inspiring and the lyrics mean something to me. Anyway, going back to the constellation, I find it interesting to know why certain fabrics give different meanings in each gang. I would have loved to have ben around when Punk and Goth evolved, as I am fascinated by the look and think it’s great. I love the unique style and how they stood out and didn’t care about what anyone thought as it was clearly a huge shock back in the day.