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Photo via Scott Hughes/Flickr (CC-BY-SA)

By now, you’ve probably seen steampunk fashion out there. It has inspired everything in the entertainment industry from design challenges on Project Runway to movies like Van Helsing.

If you have been curious to understand this fascinating fashion subculture, it’s time to take a look into the retrofuturistic style that has taken over mainstream pop culture.

Perhaps you too can integrate some of these exciting looks into your daily aesthetic.


What is Steampunk fashion?

Steampunk designs are very recognizable: they offer a unique mix of old and new, a combination of old-school Victorian fashion with a futuristic retro twist. Some designs also add a touch of post-apocalyptic influence.

One of the popular ways to incorporate steampunk vibes into fashion is through adornments of a mechanical or machine aesthetic.

The style is often applied to old-school fashionable pieces like top hats, goggles, jewelry, wrist watches and bowler hats. Creativity is really the limit for steampunk designers: they can go all-out with the design or keep it simple.

When it comes to steampunk, you’ll know it when you see it. This steampunk pocket watch is the perfect example: mixing an old-school skeleton design with a gear-based front and glass back. You can’t get more steampunk than this.

How did Steampunk fashion come about?

Steampunk was a movement that rose from the increasing popularity of science fiction. It mixed the romantic view of the Victorian era with the industrialization of Europe in the 1900s.

Initially, steampunk designs were simple featuring bustiers, bodices, and jackets, but the movement grew and so too did the mass-production of steampunk clothing and accessories.

The steampunk fashion industry today includes a far wider variety of options and accessories, still true-to-form to its original aesthetics.


How popular is Steampunk?

The steampunk movement is a genre in and of itself. Its fashion branch has grown significantly since the 1980s and from these seeds, fashion companies have sprung to cater to the millions of steampunk fans across the world. There’s even a yearly steampunk convention, “SalonCon”, where steampunk enthusiasts dress up in costumes that reflect the movement.


Photo via Greyloch/Wikipedia (CC-BY-SA)

Of course, for some people this look is their day-to-day fashion choice rather than a one-off costume for a convention.

Steampunk in pop culture



Steampunk integration into pop culture really took off in the ‘90s. Who can forget Will Smith’s Wild Wild West with its crazy steampunk creations and fashion?

Many mainstream movies and television shows have found inspiration in the culture, integrating it into the characters’ costumes and the overall world they live in and this in turn has influenced the fashion industry.

These movies include Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes, the Series of Unfortunate Events movie, Steamboy and Hellboy II. It’s even found in video games like Bioshock Infinite and Dishonored.

Steampunk has done more than influence movies, shows and fashion. It’s also responsible for an entire subculture of music and music videos. Its inspiration can be found in music videos and music by some of the most popularly global bands and musicians like Panic! At the Disco and David Guetta.

All in all, steampunk is a fashion industry and genre on its own and one that is not only continuously growing, but also influencing aesthetics across the world.
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