Are there visual styles with a stronger digital connection than a physical one? One subculture that has flourished in digital culture and is a phenomenon on the periphery of pop culture is steampunk.
Steampunk as a term bloomed in the eighties having grown out of a vast referencial system in literature and film. Cyberpunk’s sci-fi sibling has been described as “what the future would have looked like if it had happened sooner”. It is a pseudo-Victorian dream with attributes of industrialism playing with elements of air balloons, steam-powered machinery, and mechanical computers. It investigates the archaic notion of what may have transpired if civilization had continued to use steam as its principal energy source and adhered to the Victorian aesthetic.
Steampunk fashion typically utilizes 20th century technology, patterns, and aesthetics.
Any artistic movements, fads, or subcultures that have emerged from the aesthetics of mid-century art nouveau design, Victorian-era literature, steampunk novels, or films are collectively referred to as steampunk. A variety of contemporary utilitarian items have been modified into a pseudo-Victorian mechanical “steampunk” style by lone craftspeople, and numerous visual and musical artists have been labeled as steampunk.
Throughout the years it has become not just a literary subgenre, but an entire lifestyle for some people. There are conventions, fashion shows, and even music festivals dedicated to this unique way of living. Popular game titles like Bioshock and the Witcher series have also been inspired by Steampunk.
As a fashion genre, it is one of the most loved and hated fashion trends out there. It encompasses passion, a love for history and engineering, a keen eye for intelligently-placed details, and an ounce of nostalgia for the old times. Still, with cross-media popularity, it still is mostly appreciated in video games while having a movement like analog life. It is a popular subcultural manifestation outside the fashion spotlight still evolving and finding new visual expressions.
It is a fashion genre without rules; yet, it combines Victoriana-inspired elements with contemporary fashions. These influences may be seen in the use of bustles, corsets, gowns, and petticoats, as well as in suits with waistcoats, coats, top hats, bowlers, tailcoats, and spats (all of which date back to 1850s England). A number of technological and “period” accessories, such as parasols, flying/driving goggles, ray weapons, and watches, are frequently used to highlight steampunk-inspired attire. Cell phones and music players, which have been altered to resemble Victorian-era items, are common modern accessories seen in steampunk attire. You can also use post-apocalyptic details like gas masks, torn clothes, and tribal patterns. Neo-Victorianism, the Lolita and aristocracy styles, mainstream high fashion, and other trends have all predicted elements of steampunk fashion.