19 Most Notable Alternative Subcultures & Trends In the Last Decade

19 Most Notable Alternative Subcultures & Trends In the Last Decade

The last decade has seen a surge of alternative trends that are quickly gaining popularity among young people and adults alike. From veganism to zero-waste living, these sustainable practices are making a big impact in the world. In this article, we'll take a look at 19 of the newest and most notable alternative trends that have emerged over the last ten years.

Content Update:In the last decade, the world of alternative fashion, music, and lifestyle has seen significant changes and growth. From new trends in gothic fashion to the rise of streaming music, the past 10 years have been full of innovation and experimentation. In this article, we'll take a look at 19 of the most notable and groundbreaking alternative trends of the last decade. Get ready to explore the newest trends in fashion, music, lifestyle, and more!

Looks like subcultures are pretty much dead and all we have left are niche aesthetics. Take the internet, or more precisely – Tumblr trends for example. New micro-trends are constantly emerging through blogs and memes, and some of them come to life on fashion items.  However silly it may sound, people are actually wearing these trends, and we’re here to guide you through them. Whether you like them or not is up to you.

We will focus on the latest, lesser-known trends. First, let’s quickly go through the ones that have emerged since the late ’90s, and how you can rock them in a modern way. Let me just say, although many of these trends theoretically had an age limit (such as teenagers/the early 20s) and an “expiration date”, you can still wear whatever the hell you like. Alternative fashion is all about breaking the rules and accepting the differences! Many of these trends are still alive and unchanged, and if not, we’ll let you know how to revive them with a modern twist!

1. Cybergoth

Cybergoth appeared in the late 1990s and has pretty much remained unchanged. The scene includes fans of electronic goth music, such as futurepop, a term coined by VNV Nation’s Ronan Harris (trance music with dark lyrics and vocals).  

For a Cyber Goth look, wear a typical goth outfit, such as a PVC dress, accentuated with contrasting neon accessories, hair, and makeup. “Cyberlocks”, goggles, gas masks, furry leg warmers, fishnet stockings, colored lenses, ultraviolet jewelry, biohazard, and radioactive symbols are other common Cyber Goth trends. Don't forget platform boots for dancing!

Cybergoth is one of the most notable alternative fashion trends of the past decade.
Image Source elenasamko.deviantart.com

2. Gothic Lolita

Gothic Lolita is a style that combines Japanese Lolita with western gothic influences. It is inspired by Victorian and Edwardian era clothing. 

A typical Lolita outfit usually includes a (sometimes white) petticoat and bloomers underneath a black bell-shaped skirt or dress, and a tailored black, frilly, buttoned up blouse. A corset is often worn as an undergarment to accentuate the shape of the dress. Typical prints and accessories include bats, coffins, crosses, rosaries, top hats, headbands, bows, and parasols. Add some black Lolita boots or mary janes with bows.

Gothic Lolita is one of the most notable alternative fashion trends to gain popularity in the past decade.
Image Source: tokyofashion.com

3. Steampunk

Very well known among alternative fashion fans, Steampunk found mainstream popularity in 2005. Steampunk combines Victorian fashion with modern elements. There are often easily recognized cyber-punk and post-apocalyptic influences. Not only is the trend still alive, but recently it regained mainstream notice with the TV show Steampunk’d. 

For a typical outfit wear a brown leather corset over a frilly white shirt.  Add petticoats under long skirts, top hats and military-inspired garments in warm, earthy colors. Accent the look with technological accessories, clockwork details,  and Steampunk goggles in copper and vintage golds. The boots should be brown leather or knee-high lace-up.

Steampunk is one of the most notable alternative fashion trends to gain mainstream popularity in the past decade.
Image Source:www.styleswardrobe.com

4. Emo

Emo was a punkier version of goth that became popular in the mid-2000s. Most Emo outfits included wearing skinny jeans, mostly black clothes, cheap band tees, and studded belts. However, their hairstyles characterized them most - choppy hair, long side-swept bangs usually covering one eye, typically dyed black but also platinum blonde or some unnatural color.

Today, for a more "serious", toned down look, you can still have the asymmetrical punky hairstyle. Just avoid neon colors and go for more pastel hues. Wear your black band tee with shorts, ripped tights, and some Vans.

Emo is an alternative fashion trend that emerged in the past decade.
Image Source: grstylestalker.blogspot.com

5. Scene

Scene kids became popular in the late 2000s and were the more colorful cousins of emos. They took fashion influences from indie, hip-hop, rave, and punk. Fun fact: the term ”scene queen” originated in the 1970s glam rock, and signified a straight musician who pretended to be gay on stage, or, later, a poseur. 

Scene fashion usually included a black base with bright clashing colors, cartoon print hoodies, neon band shirts, tutus, skinny biker jeans, and studded belts. Typically, you would see neon-colored, big teased hair swept to the side with accessories, such as tiaras and bows.

For a modern scene look, you can keep your bows and hair accessories. Just keep the hair natural or pastel and wear it with a simple jersey dress and some creepers, like the scene queen Melissa Marie.

Scene: One of the most notable alternative fashion trends of the past decade.
Image Source: 

6. Skate Punk/Sneakerheads

By 2012, many scene kids abandoned the look and went for a more toned down skate punk/hardcore look. That style includes wife beaters, beanies, plain hoodies, Vans, tapered jeans, combat boots, and stretched earlobes. Short hairstyles were the norm, such as crew cut and indie Hitler youth haircuts.

Others became sneakerheads, a look that includes Nike Air Jordans, Vans, slim fit jeans, baseball caps, leggings with slouched socks, jerseys, Keds, hoodies, cosmic and Aztec prints.

For a modern female skater look, wear an oversized white shirt with a beanie, distressed jeans, and red Converse/Vans sneakers.

In the past decade, skate punk emerged as a major alternative fashion trend.
Image Source: 

7. Hipsters

What's left to say about hipsters?  Since 2010, the label hipster is often used for a pretentious individual who listens to indie music but is also overly concerned with trends and appearing cool. Yet the trend has remained very popular, as a real hipster would never declare themselves a hipster.

Typical hipster style includes lots of tattoos, a long beard, combed back hair, and buns, or man buns, Hipster clothing includes flannel lumberjack shirts, ironic graphic shirts, vintage band tees, hoodies, and skinny jeans. Thick framed glasses, Wayfarers, scarves, messenger bags, plugs, and courier bags are the accessories of choice.

Basically, mismatch and layer outfits. As for the shoes, the chucks are no longer cool, so the more understated Reebok classics have replaced them. For girls, vintage floral or lace dresses in neutral colors that look like they came out of a granny’s closet are popular. Wear one with red lipsticks, septum piercings, round sunglasses, wide-brim hats, and oxfords/creepers/Keds.

Hipster is an extremely new alternative fashion trend, having just emerged in the past decade.
Image Source:  thebestfashionblog.com

8. Soft Grunge

Originating in 2010, the golden year of Tumblr, soft grunge has goth and kawaii influences. It is all about mixing soft pastel colors with more hardcore elements, such as studs and leather. Soft grunge outfits will consist of pastel ombre hair, flower crowns, septum piercings, Nirvana or other band shirts, ripped leggings, denim shorts, creepers, or Doc Martens, floppy hats, and occult jewelry.

Thanks to Tumblr, Soft Grunge is one of the most notable alternative fashion trends of the past decade.
Image Source: www.missmalini.com

9. Pastel Goth

Similar to soft grunge, pastel goth emerged in the 2010s, but is based more on the Goth style. Picture black clothes with inverted crosses, creepy cute quotes in dripping fonts of pink or lavender, and other occult symbols. The essential element is the pastel hair, which can be light pink, lavender, mint, but also gray, blonde or ombre. Accessories are also a very important part of the look. Include bows, hairclips, eyeballs, flower crowns, bones, horns, bats, coffins, studs, skulls, chokers, and heart garters. Add some creepers, pastel Dr. Martens, or dolly shoes.

Pastel Goth gave a soft edge to gothic style and became one of the top alternative fashion trends of the past decade.
Image Source: severalstyles.tumblr.com

10. Witch House

Witch House is a trend that emerged around 2010 and was about the aesthetics as much as the music (a blend of hip-hop, industrial, goth, and precursor to trap music). 

You’re probably familiar with the fashion which included extremely baggy, hooded sweatshirts and V-neck tees with inverted crosses and triangles over skinny jeans. Hoods, silver jewelry (such as necklaces with ankhs and pentagrams), and small tattoos with Egyptian or “okkvlt” (occult) symbols were also popular.

Take for example the goth/synthpop musician Mr.Kitty – he’s wearing a long oversized hoodie with stacked on bracelets, and of course, ankh necklace.

Witch House is one of the alternative fashion trends of the past decade to gain a loyal cult following.
Image Source:flavorwire.com

 11. Seapunk

Seapunk is a mix of scene, EDM, and hipster subcultures. It became mainstream thanks to pop singers Azealia Banks and Rihanna. The style originated in 2011 as a trend on Tumblr. The music is a mix of modern electronic music, with influences from the 90s. 

This trend continues into fashion, which generally consists of aquatic colors, such as various shades of blue and green. It contains many symbols from the 90s, such as yin yangs and smiley faces. Seapunks often wear brightly dyed mermaid hair in shades of blue, teal, and mint. Frequently used fashions include seashells jewelry, nautical motifs, tie-dye, dolphins, mermaid leggings, Wayfarers,  and holographic shellbags.

For a darker seapunk look, wear a mermaid skeleton dress, a sheer top with sequined seashells covering the breasts. Don’t forget the pastel hair tied up in braids or buns and dreadlocks. Experiment with makeup – such as pastel lips, glitter all over the face, rhinestones, and bindis.

Seapunk was a short lived but notable alternative fashion trend of the past decade.
Image Source: ladygunn.com

12. Normcore

Just when fashion was running out of trends – a non-trend emerged: normcore. The style includes simple outfits and the message that no one is special. The icons of the movement are celebrities such as Jerry Seinfeld and Steve Jobs. On the other hand, maybe women are just tired of wearing heels and buying new clothes every season, so they want something neutral and long-lasting.

The key is to look comfortable and effortless. If it looks like you tried too hard to put that outfit together – you’re doing something wrong. Normcore wear includes casual items; such as mom jeans, tees, sporty motifs, white New Balances, neutrals, relaxed fits, zip-up hoodies, and pleated pants. Unisex styles are very popular. The good news is – you can still wear black! For example, a cute maxi dress with aviators and Adidas superstars.

Normcore, the anti-fashion style trend, is one of the most notable alternative fashion styles of the past decade.
Image Source:www.whowhatwear.co.uk

13. Health Goth

Health Goth was a futuristic, cyber-punk trend that became popular in 2014. Think Kanye West with his studded full-face masks.  Alexander Wang and H&M are some of the mainstream names that embraced it. It looks like- you guessed it – goths in sportswear. Although some argue that it has pretty much nothing to do with a healthy lifestyle and a lot to do with a futuristic aesthetic expression. The proof is that it looks pretty impractical for sports. It’s a minimalistic, avant-garde, monochrome (all black and white) luxe, goth streetwear. The style is characterized by clean lines, mesh, and transparent materials. Accessories include combat gear, chains, and even light weaponry.

For a health goth look – wear a transparent oversized shirt with a Nike top underneath. Pair the tops with black pants, and add white sneakers. Maybe finish with some braids and dark makeup.

Health Goth mixed classic gothic style and athletic wear to become one of the most notable alternative fashion trends of the past decade.
Image Source: www.thefashionspot.com

14. Ghetto Goth

Here’s another new, refreshing, and interesting goth style which surprisingly creates a very harmonious aesthetic - ghetto goth. Similar to health goth but only flashier, Rihanna took credit for the style in 2014 (you’ve probably seen her in many borderline goth outfits, but as usual, she’s not afraid to experiment and add her own personal touch). However, the real person who invented this look is DJ Venus X, who started her GHE20G0TH1K parties back in 2010.

A typical look consists of long gothic gowns, black lipstick, and dark makeup.  Leather jackets are frequently worn. Other goth details to consider are creepers, dog collars, contact lenses, and chokers. The urban component can include lots of ghetto rings and jewelry like large hoop earrings. Bomber/racer jackets, track pants, bindis, space buns, and braids are also common. The main thing is that the base is black/dark red, the make-up is dark, and then you have the freedom to accessorize the outfit in many creative ways.

Ghetto Goth sounds like a joke but is actually one of the most notable alternative fashion trends of the past decade.
Image Source:www.trendybloggers.com

15. Memecore

You know all those large scale prints of emojis, cats, and junk food worn “ironically” you’ve seen all over the internet and on almost all fashion sites? Well, there’s a name for that – it’s memecore. We’ve also seen it on Moschino runways, with their Spongebob and McDonalds inspired collections, instead of elegant gowns.

But who’s gonna wear this trend except for fashion bloggers and teenagers? Take an example from Katy Perry with her fancy Chanel-inspired McDonalds purse.

Memecore brought internet irony to fashion, making it one of the most notable alternative fashion trends of the past decade.
Image Source: mysecretclosett.wordpress.com

16. Vaporwave

Vaporwave is an artier version of memecore, though it’s hard to tell these acid-pastel-holographic trends from one another. An internet, futuristic, maximalist cyber-punk inspired trend, which includes unusual images; such as Renaissance sculptures, ‘80s/’90s web design palm trees, and Japanese letters. It began as music (“hypnagogic pop”) / art movement that later became wearable and was inspired by the ‘80s/’90s capitalist culture.

The fashion includes T-shirts with logos of companies such as Napster or Google and Matrix-style shades. If you want such a vintage shirt, it’s best to look for it in thrift and second-hand stores. Vaporwave also includes holographic colors. So, you can wear a cool Japanese print shirt matched with pastel hair and makeup.

Vaporwave is one of the most notable alternative fashion trends of the past decade.
Image Source: wheretoget.it

17. Cutesters

As with most modern trends, cutesters have emerged from hipsters in London. Cutesters are creative souls who wear jumpers with cartoon characters, emoji tattoos, and (for guys) well-kept beards. They refuse to live the rebellious lifestyles of drinking and drugs like most other subcultures. Looks like nothing is radical and new anymore, the world has grown tired of it.

Such as hipsters, they don’t have a “defining” look – you know it when you see it. Unlike hipsters, cutesters are genuinely friendly and prefer fun overlooking cool. A cutester outfit could include a Hello Kitty shirt, denim skirt, knee-highs, glasses, and white Dr. Martens.

Cutesters made anti-fashion one of the most notable alternative fashion trends of the past decade.
Image Source www.vice.com

18. Nu Goth

Nu Goth is the most current, minimalistic, and more casual goth style. It is classic gothic but also has hipster, grunge, and Japanese fashion influences. The lines between nu goth, pastel goth, and pastel grunge are blurred, but they are not to be confused.

Dark and obscure, characterized by clean lines, witchy hats, and dark makeup. Look for long dresses, shirts with occult prints, skater skirts, and crop tops. Accessorize with pentagram harnesses, occult jewelry, thigh-high socks, and garters with crosses. Also common are skeleton prints, inverted crosses, pentagrams, aliens, planets, tarot cards, crystal balls, and Ouija board inspired fashion. Wear them with some chunky heels, creepers, or lita shoes.

Nu Goth is sexy and modern, making it one of the most popular alternative fashion trends of the past decade.
Image Source: darkfashionmode.tumblr.com

19. Yuccie

Yuccie stands for "young creative individuals" and is a combination of hipsters and yuppies. Try to imagine creative and intellectual as hipsters but ambitious as yuppies. They wear stylishly understated clothes that only intellectual individuals understand.

If you want to dress like the new hipster – the yuccie, wear a lot of olive green, blacks, and greys, Find expensive hoodies, lots of denim (bonus points if it includes vintage patches and buttons), and parkas. For your feetminimalist sneakers, Birkenstocks, or oxfords. Yuccies love locally-owned and handmade accessories. Consider leather bucket bags and colorful socks to show discretely how creative but professional you are. And of course, men have to sport a mustache.

Yuccie shows attitude is as important as clothing in modern alternative fashion trends.
Image Source:www.menfashionhub.com

What do you think of these alternative “trends” or fads? Silly or worth considering? Where music was the great influence on fashion; the internet, and social media have taken over. Maybe fashion has lost its rebellion, just like modern music Wearing a certain trend no longer signifies being a fan of a particular genre. Are the subcultures really dead and all that’s left is posting on social media? Or will the spirit of Rock’n’Roll live on, in one way or another?

Which style is your favorite? Please leave a comment below!

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About the Author

Nevena Bjelic