Sarah Magliocco explores the resurgence of emo, punk and goth fashion trends, and why it's the next logical step our post-pandemic fashion evolution.

The pandemic has made undeniable changes to the day-to-day lives of people across the world, and while masks and gloves are the most obvious element of how we have adapted our wardrobes to facilitate a global mandate of public health consideration, dark aesthetics and sub-genres of style are also making a resurgence.

Style subcultures are more apparent than ever before. As people become accustomed to spending time apart from their usual social groups and use their alone time to consider how they truly want to present themselves to society, experimentation with gothic, punk and internet inspired aesthetics is on the rise.

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The increased popularity of expressive social media formats like TikTok has hastened and encouraged the upswing of extreme style too, as users feel more comfortable presenting themselves in a dramatic fashion through the relative safety of a phone screen.

Rebellion is the aim of the game, as more individuals seek out an antidote to the sometimes toxic positivity of traditionally lauded online influencers.

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As we grow weary of the era of sanitised and carefully measured content from apolitical influencers with the same blush colour palette Instagram feeds and non-partisan statements about commercial wellness and girlbossing your day, it is little wonder that online communities like those found on TikTok, which traipse through micro-trends with increasing acceleration, would find room to re-popularise a classically rebellious sub-genre of style.

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In the 80s, goth emerged as a splinter group from punk, as a disillusioned few opted to detach from the overproduced hippie music of the day. Forty years on, this archetypal human trend of revolting against the taste of the masses has reemerged as predictably as our fluctuating penchant for skinny jeans or flares.

Soft styles like cottagecore, minimalism and the hipster preppiness that dominated the 2010s and beginning of the 2020s are now being edged aside in favour of a new wave of nostalgic disobedience.

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It's not just TikTok teens and traditional goths who are riding that wave. In the same way 80s, 90s and early 2000s coming of age films juxtaposed the gothic odd-balls and grunge misfits as the antithesis to the perpetually smiling, pastel wearing popular kids, celebrities are reaching out for that "skipped class to smoke cigarettes under the bleachers" edge that has been a mainstay in popular culture for decades.

Case and point being Travis Barker, Kourtney Kardashian, Machine Gun Kelly and Megan Fox’s intimate photoshoot from the toilets at this year’s VMAs.

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While Megan and Kourtney are style icons in their own right, they’re currently revelling in the coveted style role of rock star’s girlfriends, and are leaning into the look with a mash up of leather dresses, crucifix necklaces and short red kilts.

Up and coming celebrities are the leaders when it comes to the trend however, but always rely on nostalgia to direct them. American singer Olivia Rodrigo has been hailed as the next big thing, and her music has been heavily credited as being inspired by mid-2000s emo mainstays Paramore.

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In the Good 4 U music video - Olivia’s biggest hit so far - she portrays herself as the formerly happy cheerleader who, via the grief of a breakup, becomes a psychotic arson-committing character who eventually submerges herself in a lake, eyes glowing red as she submits to her new fate as the scorned ex.

The visual symbol for this change? Elbow-length leather gloves - a traditionally gothic accessory and material. This added edge to her pastel blue cheerleader’s uniform is the catalyst to her personal uprising. In addition, many fans have long noted the similarities between Good 4 U and Paramore’s 2007 song Misery Business - an emo anthem.

Olivia has since added writer’s credits for Paramore band members Hayley Williams and Josh Farro to her song, making their influence undeniable.

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Leather coats, ripped tights, chains, platforms, and plaid have all been spotted on recent runways and the webpages of fast fashion giants, meaning that the fashion industry is also paying heed to the changing appetites of style consumers.

While many original goth trends came from an urge to be unique and a DIY mentality, industrial and technological advancements and the lighting speed of brands responding to trends means that anyone can pick up a slice of manufactured edginess with an "add to bag" screen swipe.

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It’s a positive on one hand - allowing people to express themselves sartorially with haste and ease - but a negative on the other, as truly gothic ideologies align themselves with anti-establishment ideals and a strong sense of community, making some mass-produced attempts at the look feel shallow and a mere appeasement of the micro-trend of the hour.

That being said, just because something is easily accessible doesn’t make it bad, and authentic gothic principles have strong roots in inclusion and free thinking.

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Ultimately, the pandemic allowed us to get back in touch with the things that truly made us happy thanks to the time for self reflection it allowed. For many, that led to a call back to teenhood and a remembrance of emo, scene, punk, goth and grunge aesthetics that defined a generation.

Free from the shackles of stiff collared shirts and uniforms due to the mandate to work from home, plenty were able to find freedom of expression through personal style and were enticed to revisit the edgier, darker themes of style eras gone by.

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Trends will always come and go, and trend cycles have become shorter and shorter. However, the reemergence of gothic aesthetics hails the return of a craving for individualised style that could be the ideal first step to rehabilitating us from the cookie-cutter, it-item dominated domain we currently buy into.

The comeback of goth may mean we begin to see more people feeling comfortable with experimentation rather than following Instagram-influence, and if so, add The Cure to my playlist.

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent or reflect the views of RTÉ.