Anyone might think they know what it means to be a goth. If you ask the average person to define what a true goth means, they might just describe platform boots, band merch and A LOT of eyeliner. Although, these can be seen as famous markers of the gothic movement, is there more to it?
Big gothic artists like The Cure, Bauhaus and Siouxsie Sue helped shape early gothic fashion and aesthetics. Your cool uncle may have even thought he was the next Robert Smith back in the 80's and has kept the crazy bed head look (in the name of goth – of course). Since these artists put goth on the map, there has been a boom in gothic subcultures and types of goths roaming around. From dark and brooding romantic goths to bright and shiny pastel goths. Black clothing may tie many types of goth together, creating a similarity, but there is still endless differences between them all. This can make it hard to find a singular definition.
I stumbled upon the "gothic scene" when I was at college. My closest friend considered herself a romantic goth and introduced me to all that it is. I was fascinated beyond belief. To me, what "goth" stands for is having a love for all things beautiful, dark and Victorian. This could be the art, architecture or literature. Unlike the aggressive, anarchic chaos of the punk movement, goth is a less political revolutionary movement that brings people together who have a love for all things dark. Now when I say dark, I don't necessarily mean worshipping Satan or whatever (unless you're into that) – but more that goth is a unity of sombre or mysterious subject matter like death – and appreciate the beauty in it.
This appreciation of all things deep and sombre is shown by goths through their lifestyles and different lifestyle choices including their beliefs, music taste, gothic fashion choices and hobbies. So, what does being a goth mean? Let's have a look.
Of course, there are no set beliefs you HAVE to have to be a goth but generally, here are a few common ones. Goths can be seen as lovers of all things striking and dramatic (be it alternative clothing or dark, bold make-up looks). This might explain the fascination with the supernatural, romanticism and tradition – all things dying out and needing saving. The unique, antique nature of the goth movement means that all the dark beauty in the world needs to be maintained. This plays into why goths are lovers of natural cycles like the life and death of natural things, moon cycles, weather cycles etc. These are just some core beliefs which all the subcultures have.
As there are so many types of goth in the modern age, there is also many types of gothic style to go with them! Although goths can be identified for being lovers of black, it doesn't stop there. There isn't a specific color code. The birth of the pastel goth scene has created a massive rise in the mixing of all things dark and gothic with light pastel colors (think candyfloss and kittens). This varies significantly with the traditional romantic or fetish style - both marked by sexy figure-hugging gothic corsets and little latex numbers. This shows that there is massive variation in gothic fashion when it comes to different types of goth in the subcultures.
There are many ways to be involved in the gothic community. The scene is based on music festivals, nightclubs and meet ups but lets talk about those massive festivals in Germany – The Wave-Gotik-Treffen (Leipzig) and M'era Luna (Hildesheim). All types of goth are catered for and anybody is welcome!
You might ask then - what joins goths together if there are so many types? I would say that the binding factor is self-expression. Whether you are steampunk, trad, romantic or cyberpunk – they all have one thing in common. This is that you don't need to change who you are to be accepted into the group. The meaning of goth can therefore be described as a feeling. The fact that there are so many sub-types means that goths are happy (yes – goths can be happy) to accept that you can express your feelings in any way you see fit. There is no right or wrong gothic type to join, none are better than the other. Yeah, dark stuff might be at the heart of it all, but it's more about freedom and community. It's less about being mopey and miserable in a group setting, but more to do with being who you really are and finding like-minded people.
Yes - gothic subcultures are all united by the belief that beauty can be found in all things dark and spooky to the normal person. From looking at lifestyle aspects of gothic culture, goth means one thing and one thing only – family! When finding out the meaning of goth, I can only say that it has so many types and can only be tied together by the 'feeling' of community. You'd be joining a big inclusive family! There is no correct way to be a goth. There are different types of music, fashion and expression but they are all relevant for the simple fact that there is no hierarchy and only a sense of belonging. Those who are different find their way to express it and that exactly what being a goth means.
If you want to join the goth movement and need some style help, check out The Black Ravens for your gothic shoes and accessories if you're into womens gothic clothing. Don't worry if you're not though, we have an ever growing collection of mens gothic clothing too!