While often bullied and ridiculed in high school, Goths actually represent a very vibrant subculture that has its root in the late 70s, early 80s punk rock scene. In fact, Goths have outlived many other subcultures that sprang from the same source and continue to endure today. Furthermore, Goth influences have filtered down into mainstream culture and influenced a wide array of artists, musicians and directors.
However, what started the Goths and where do their roots begin? The early 80s, in both the UK and the US, was a time of experimentation in music. The initial wave of punk rock had altered the music scene and a second wave of musicians, all with differing aesthetics and styles, broke onto the scene, adding further diversity. This brought about bands like The Cure and Bauhaus, early contributors to the Goth scene.
The music tended to be partly heavy and industrial but with an emphasis on darkness and emotions. Nevertheless, while music influenced the Goths, their scene is much broader. Appearances and style are perhaps the hallmarks of the Goth subculture. Neoclassical and neo medieval Germanic iconography are important as well.
Dark clothing that stands in contrast to pale, light colored skin is often the first tenant of Goth style. However, as the movement has diversified, this has altered to embrace more and more differing appearances. Leather is big for Goths as is influences from BDSM culture. Metal buckles and studs along with straps, heavy boots and form fitting leather clothing are another major part of Goth design. Finally, outlandish hairstyles, typically long hair that is styled into thin strands or turned upwards, are prominent as are numerous piercings and eye makeup.
Nevertheless, Goths are more than just a subculture. If you look at the work of Tim Burton you can see a definite melding of Goth influences. Furthermore, Goth design has been instrumental to many sci-fi films with the development of dark, industrial looking spaceships and locations. Ridley Scott’s Alien has echoes of Goth design in the claustrophobic, dank, steam work setting.
Goths continue to endure until this day because the culture has such a robust following. Goths are particularly popular in Germany where large international festivals are held yearly for Goths to get together and celebrate their lifestyle.