With a sound like the stone trap chasing Indiana Jones, thousands of goth eyeballs were rolled recently as the Wall Street Journal published an online article ‘provocatively’ titled Can A Grown Woman Wear Goth Fashion?
Thanks as well for the inspired subheading, “reserved for angsty teens”. The far-from-subtle implication being that goths are neither adult nor have jobs. We’ll cover that particular mistake later.
I cannot believe how many damn times we have to deal with this kind of ‘journalism’. Every time Autumn rolls round, the weather drops, and the high fashion houses start dipping into their ‘edgy adolescent’ wardrobes, these types of columns pop up like mould after rain.
Speaking personally, as a man in his mid-thirties who works in the public sector and has skull cuff-links, it’s wearisome responding to what is basically pandering to the lowest common denominator of design and rebellion combined – and doing it every single year whilst pretending you’re somehow innovating.
I’ve wearily dragged my keyboard over several times to address this, and always come back to the same conclusions (as well as ignoring my own promises not to cover it again). One, fashion journalists need to research their own industry and realize they’re as guilty of recycling their coverage as designers are of resurrecting the corpse of high-fashion goth.
Two, they need to research the ‘angsty teen subculture’ they dismiss out of hand, and note the research study from 2006, the actual journalism of 2011, and other bloggers addressing this point earlier this year. There’s an opportunity to write a much better article acknowledging the unusual longevity of the goth scene, and to acknowledge the inevitable influence it has had on fashion houses in Winter for many years.
Mel Butler, 2019
For an expert opinion I turned to my long-standing friend of many years, professional beautiful goth Mel of Mel Butler Photography – not to mention professionally employed in a variety of industries public, private and educational. When I asked her about this article, she hit me between the eyes with a classic line.
“If it is suggesting I should dress in beige now that I am hurtling towards 50… well they can just fuck off.”
Mel is pretty level-headed about the whole thing, and pointed out another glaring issue I’d overlooked.
“On one hand I detest it. This media over-exposure trying to make Goth fashionable to the mainstream – as this is what I identify as me, not some fashion fad.”
I firmly agree – mining our ideas and style for an ‘exotic’ look that lasts a bare season is an insult to the hard work of DIY culture and elegant design that has typified one of the world’s most distinctive, enduring and creative subcultures ever. Still, Mel is practical to the extreme…!
Mel Butler, 1988
“Then on the other hand, when high street shops are bursting with black velvet frock coats, skull accessory bags and black spiky heeled boots, I embrace it and fill my wardrobe.”
No reason we should lose out completely I guess! Many thanks again to Mel for sharing her thoughts with us.
So, granted, this isn’t going to be a Pulitzer submission but equally no article is written in a vacuum and it’s disappointing to see something so mass-produced with barely a thread of research present – although, I’m grudgingly noting at least a few minutes with Google, looking up Frankenstein as the first gothic horror novel.
The author, in their research, also notes the transition from post-punk to goth rock from the late Seventies onwards – and yet never pauses to think, “I wonder if the fans from that time are still fans today?”
Unlike the fashion scene, and the journalism that covers it, we don’t suffer from a shallow reset button every twelve months.