What Are The Alternative Subcultures Of Today?
As far back as anyone can remember, subcultures have given people a voice, a purpose, and a place to dwell in a society that typically favors the mainstream. From grunge to goth, mods & rockers, punks, hippies, and beyond, subcultures have given the world so much.
Subversive art, fashion, music, and generational manifestos form the very foundations of any subculture worth its salt. And, despite many of history’s most iconic subcultures still thriving today, there are new movements developing right under our noses—the likes of which could well become tomorrow’s punk or goth.
But, what are these fresh, newer and currently popular subcultures and what are they all about? The only way to find out is to dive in and take a look, so that’s exactly what we’re going to do now.
Let’s get started, shall we?
While the steampunk movement is well documented and been kicking around for a while, its influential aesthetic and continual evolution makes it a worthy addition to our list.
By its very nature, steampunk is both retrospective and forward-thinking, which is what makes it so relevant today. Steampunks wear pseudo-victorian clothing, laced with trimmings and accessories that seem to come from a far-flung kaleidoscopic future.
In recent times, communities of steampunks have evolved to take a more proactive role in the environment and as such, many have become green advocates. Also, the DIY ethic of steampunk has reached exciting new heights, with more grassroots music emerging and an increasing number of custom-made outfits spotted across the globe.
While steampunk isn’t exactly new, its dedication to the DIY ethic (akin to the early incarnation of punk) and its environmental leanings mean that the subculture has entered an exciting new age—steampunk 2.0, perhaps?
New Age Goth
The gothic scene is one of the world’s most influential subcultures and as a result, is one of the most enduring. You probably already know that there are many different branches of goth culture today—including emo & scene and pastel goth. But, it seems there’s another broader yet all the more potent branch of the subculture flowering in all of its dark, brooding glory—something we like to call, new age goth.
In the new age, goth has returned to its roots somewhat, but with an introspective (and still wonderfully dark) modern spin. It’s a little more nuanced than its brother and sister branches (emo, pastel goth, etc.), led largely by the wealth of new gothic-edged music out there at the moment. Many new-age goths wear smart-casual clothing, laced with black overtones and eyeliner. New age goth is expressive, artistic, and decidedly slick, without pretense: for inspiration, check out bands including Minuit Machine, Selofan, and Interpol.
E-boys and E-girls
It’s time to get digital, digital. A new web-driven subculture, the rise of the e-boy and e-girl is both rapid and relentless. Defined by their striking look that includes wild dyed hair, face art, original accessories, and heavy set eyeliner, the e-people are the potent, new wave of the Tumblr kids. But, unlike the Tumblr generation, it looks like the e-girl and e-boy are here for the long-haul.
E-boys and e-girls are becoming increasingly influential in the digital world, using the short-form video platform TikTok to connect, communicate, and express themselves.
The hipster has been around for some while and is usually found residing in the likes of East London, Williamsburg (New York City), San Francisco, Berlin, and just about any other progressive place imaginable. Hipsters are largely defined by their creative take on the vintage or hippy aesthetic, artistic nature, and love for experimental music genres.
Again, while the hipster is by no means a fresh concept, a brand new strand of eco-leaning cool cat is currently making its mark in the alternative world: the sustainable hipster.
Taking the hippie ethos of the 60s and 70s to heart, sustainable hipsters are far more community-based than their traditional counterparts, pooling together their collective energies to indulge in pursuits such as eco-activism and vertical farming, looking good while they’re doing it.
This new strand of hipster has spawned new literature and music—and as the subculture continues to evolve, we feel the best is yet to come. Keep your eyes peeled and your ears to the ground, you’ll reap great rewards if you do.
Last but certainly not least, we come to the brony. The brony subculture is a warm, lucid, fairytale-like movement that continues to grow in strength. Bronies love My Little Pony, gathering to celebrate the show regularly while sporting vibrant hair and garments directly inspired by the show.
Quirky, zany, and happy-go-lucky, these guys and gals have a strong sense of community, are incredibly creative, and spread their rainbow-laced vibes wherever they visit.
The reason the brony is so relevant is that it shares so many positive attributes from other modern movements including Kawaii and Harajuku. In terms of productive and inclusive yet subversive youth movements, the brony subculture offers a window into the future, and as such, it’s something that commands attention—so don’t ignore it.
"I would dream. I focused all my attention on going to America. The subculture, James Dean, the rock n' roll, the beat writers."—David Bowie
Subcultures are glorious in so many ways. They are the light, they are the voice, they are the past, present, and the future. New movements are emerging all the time and those mentioned here are paving the way, long live the subculture.