While 2012 brought many trends we’ve since grown tired of, the Year of the Dragon also brought a few that we’re just now starting to really take notice of. Among these is the emerging and most likeley soon-to-be-mainstream street or ghetto goth look propelled to the forefront by rappers like A$AP Rocky. Other rappers and celebrities have incorporated various parts of the look, too, thanks to recent pieces by designers like Raf Simons and Rick Owens.
In short, the style consists of dark, minimalist clothing cut in modern ways and finished with premium materials like leather. References to past styles are common too, most notably late 80s/early 90s hip-hop and grunge. However, since there’s a bit more to it than that we’ve decided to take a closer look at the individual pieces that make up the style. Take a look below for a thorough dissection of the unique look.
For simplicity’s sake we’ll begin from the top down. First up then is the head. While it’s not necessary to top the head with anything at all, caps and beanies are often worn and are almost exclusively black. White lettering of varying size and font are typical features, which isn’t surprising given the look’s simplistic color scheme. An interesting feature of embroidered caps and beanies though, is the cryptic lettering used like on BLVCK SCVLE’s x A$AP Rocky’s VSVP strapback. The “V”s clearly represent “A”s but the dot above both “V”s creates an aesthetic unknowable to those outside the proverbial sphere.
As mentioned earlier, leather is a common material used throughout the look and often makes an appearance on caps. The unmistakable sheen of real, premium leather adds a layer of texture that cotton simply can’t. Thus, leather black caps with or without lettering are a common addition.
Next up are jackets which end up playing just one layer in the different types of tops used throughout the style. The F/W 12 Varsity Jacket from Alexander Wang is a great example with its leather sleeves and clean silhouette. When fitted correctly, the jacket stops right where the torso ends allowing for extra layers to appear from underneath.
Simple, black hoodies are common as well, allowing for easy and visible layering. All different styles are applicable from classic zip-up hoodies to edgy sleeveless ones.
Drapey coats are another option which, while long and flowing, tend to be slim and fitted. Tyson Chandler is a big proponent of these and can often be spotted wearing something or another from Rick Owens. The superstar basketball player even let on that, “the most dramatic pieces in my wardrobe would be capes. I wouldn’t consider myself Goth, but I love Gothic pieces.”
Below the jacket, an oversized black t-shirt is common as are t-shirts with religious iconography. En Noir is a heavy hitter in this department with garments favored by Pusha T and Big Sean among many others. In both cases, t-shirts tend to extend past the waist creating the illusion of a longer torso. On the other hand, it’s not uncommon to sport a slightly shorter t-shirt with another layer underneath. Rick Owens has practically made the oversized white t-shirt a signature of his, once again messing with proportion and the illusion of layers.
The grunge staple of tying a shirt around the waist is a common feature, too, covered at least partially by the layer above. Fear of God Los Angeles has a solid grip on the throwback style while infusing it with a contemporary edge for the ghetto goths of 2013.
Heading below the belt we arrive at the legs. Slim, black bottoms are common in most outfits as are looser bottoms made of other materials. With a non-leather top, fitted leather pants or waxed denim jeans are often chosen for their natural luster. The result is an outfit that, while mostly one color, takes advantage of each fabric’s unique properties. Throughout 2012 Kanye West could be spotted wearing unisex leather bottoms from En Noir and even wore them in the music video “Birthday Song”.
For waxed denim, both Balenciaga and Balmain released pairs that were quickly adopted by sartorialists of all types. For something a bit more relaxed and of a different material, Lanvin offers cotton lounge pants that come tapered at the ankle for that contemporary street goth look.
Last but certainly not least are the shoes. There’s a bit more flexibility here although thick hi-tops are usually favored. These days even high-end designers are rolling out sneakers with brands like Lanvin and Margiela leading the way. Of course classic streetwear and basketball hi-tops are an option too, especially vintage adidas and all-black Air Force 1s. Air Jordan IV’s are no stranger to the look either and have ended up on the feet of countless celebrities since their release.
So to sum up, the look combines the dark aesthetics of contemporary gothic fashion with the attitude and design of past music movements. Hints of late 80s and early 90s hip-hop can be seen as can traces of the Pacific Northwest’s grunge scene. With high-end fashion designers blurring the line between the streets and the runway, it’s not surprising to see the trend being adopted by musicians and athletes. To put together your own outfit check out what our dashing editor Fritz Radtke has come up with.