What does cyberpunk fashion look like? In the simplest terms, cyberpunk is science fiction that focuses on themes like technology and its impact on society. It’s been described as a society of high tech low life” featuring advanced technological and scientific achievements, such as information technology and cybernetics, juxtaposed with a degree of breakdown or radical change in the social order.
The term “cyberpunk” was coined in 1983 by author Bruce Bethke in his short story “Cyberpunk,” which was later published in the anthology Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology. Li’s Sprawl trilogy novels (Neuromancer (1984), Count Zero (1986), and Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988)) are probably the most famous early example of the cyberpunk genre. The Ghost in the Shell anime film adaptation and its sequels are probably the best-known Japanese cyberpunk works.
In addition to this list, there are several notable video game series set in a cyberpunk universe, including Deus Ex, Syndicate, System Shock, Shadowrun, Transistor, SNATCHER, Chulip and The Matrix Online
Cyberpunk is also featured prominently in anime and manga: Akira, Bubblegum Crisis and its remake Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 (which can both be considered a cyberpunk take on the Magical Girl genre), Appleseed, Serial Experiments Lain, Ergo Proxy and Ghost in the Shell all have certain elements that make them recognizably cyberpunk.
What does cyberpunk fashion look like?
Cyberpunk fashion takes its cues from the aesthetic of cyberpunks in stories like Blade Runner and Akira—futuristic outfits made up of leather jackets and low-slung jeans, neon colors, and asymmetrical cuts. Think punk rockers who happen to be living in an epic sci-fi dystopia.
One famous example of cyberpunk fashion that many people might recognize is the Manga figure Kei’s outfit in Akira—a white turtleneck sweater, black leather pants over combat boots, and a motorcycle jacket. This look has been parodied countless times since its creation in 1988, but it remains one of the most iconic depictions of cyberpunk fashion ever created.
Cyberpunk fashion is characterized by exaggerated features and bold colors. It often uses leather and other synthetic materials for its outerwear, often with an asymmetrical cut. The look often includes boots or high heels with the aforementioned boots or heels being made from synthetic materials such as plastic or vinyl.
Some of the fashion brands taking inspiration from cyberpunk.
There are many brands that reference direct cyberpunk influences in their product designs or branding. Some intersect cyberpunk fashion and so-called “tech wear” aesthetics. Raf Simons’ Spring/Summer 2018 menswear collection, for example, refers directly to the aesthetics of Blade Runner. Rick Owens debuted a cyberpunk collection for his spring/summer 2014 Paris Fashion Week show – a designer that’s constantly playing with the relationship between humans and technology.
Off-the shelves cyberpunk clothing is trickier to locate but there are niche e-commerce players with clear cyberpunk influence such as Psylo, Cryoflesh, and Cyberdog.
Yohji Yamamoto’s collaboration with Adidas on the brand Y-3 clearly takes inspiration from both cyberpunk and tech wear aesthetics as well as German fashion brand Acronym. Another brand that has embraced the cyberpunk aesthetic is Japanese streetwear label, A Bathing Ape (BAPE). BAPE has collaborated with various cyberpunk franchises such as Ghost in the Shell and Akira, resulting in a range of clothing and accessories that reference cyberpunk motifs. BAPE has a strong following amongst the streetwear community and has become known for its use of bold graphic designs and futuristic themes