21st Century Punks: A Guide To 5 New Punk Fashion Trends

Sometimes you just need a change. Sometimes, you need the world to change around you. Things can get so staid, so shamefully the same, like you're living in the worlds' most boring dystopia and even the countercultures you remember have become glazed: ironically detached, entirely for sale.

Has everyone truly sold out? Is it all consumption for pageviews and profit?

Or can you still connect? Is it possible to still wear your team colors and connect with your tribes-- to connect and remix and remake until we can make a better, honest-er, more creative culture out in the physical world, blasting away the boring dystopia once and for all!

The element of pretend "dress up" that comes from dressing in punk styles as an adult can give not only welcome respite from an arduous corporate life, but also a means to change your life altogether. After all, what if you really do become who you pretend to be?

In writing the script for a new kind of play on the stage of Earth, these five new kinds of punks connect and collaborate around a specific, empowering change.

Solar punk

Solar punk is a style grown from the determination to reconnect with nature. Solar punk imagines future communities and technologies that are ecologically friendly, non-polluting, and promote natural harmony.

Solar punk outfits are made of animal-friendly, eco-friendly renewable resources, like soy, silks, and hemp. With prominent designers hailing from the continents of Africa and South America, solar punks integrate vibrant, traditional patterns with designs that utilize long-lasting, recycled metals, including aluminum or copper accessories made from refurbished parts.

Versatility and durability are vital for solar punks, so clothes often have removable patchwork elements where a tear in the clothing will be darned with a contrasting color of cloth, or a pattern against a solid, to encourage visible pride in ingenuity and reusing clothes rather than throwing things away.

Bright metallic colors against dark backgrounds are a popular way of integrating the balance of the empowering sun and the cool night, reflecting the harmony of nature. Alternately, an earth-toned, forestry pallet is used to convey the natural mood.

Splatter punk

Splatter punks want people to confront the gross the gory realities of being human in a body that bleeds. They want everyone to be pushed to the limit of their tolerance for physicality, and then push them farther. They reject the hyper-virtuality of cyberpunks and social-media-scrolling drones; to be real is to be raw.

Splatter punks originally came on the scene in the early '90s, right when household internet was becoming commonplace. After subsiding for a bit, merging into goth and metal subcultures, they're back and ready for a re-vamp.

As you might guess, splatter punks utilize a lot of gore and internal human anatomy in their fashion styles. What might surprise you, though, is the popularity of the bodysuit. Designed to show off curves and cracks, the stark, black-and-white surreal patterns of splatter punk bodysuits are intended to be jarring, forcing others to question our everyday perception of our physical selves.

Another splatter punk icon? Outerwear made of translucent plastic, designed to evoke waterproof raincoats. Or tarps.

Elf punk

Elf punk uses the power of fantasy to imagine a world with a bit more magic and a few more surprises.

Like solar punks, elf punks find an important spiritual or uplifting connection to the natural world. Unlike the solar punks, or the steam punks for that matter, elf punks are less enchanted with technological advances; they find dirt and roots more honest. That doesn't mean they're foolish about nature's dangerous side, though. Drawing from Celtic and Druidic mythologies, today's elf punks know that to truly subvert the holy trinity of the mainstream-- Capitalism, The State, and The Patriarchy--you need the guts to blend new ideas with ancient, powerful elements.

Elf punks often emulate nomadic styles, using pattern mixing in easily changeable layers. Symbols or parts of nature's predators, like wolf pelts or teeth, falcon feathers, or lunar and oceanic imagery, are woven into ensembles that are made to run and jump in. Hoodies, skinny jeans, and solid, waterproof boots make elf punk styles some of the most wearable of glamour trends: an elf punk can play violin in the subway, disappear into the crowd on the train out, and find herself at home again in the deep wood of a national park.

At the same time, the duality of creativity and duplicity is evoked with makeup and glitter in impossible shades and the telltale pointed ears. Can a lie become the truth? Can a story change reality itself?

Myth punk

"Myth punk refers to 'a subgenre of mythic fiction' in which classical folklore and faerie tales get hyper poetic postmodern makeovers." --Myth punk definition from the Aesthetic Wiki

Myth punks can overlap with Elf punks and Solar punks, but what sets myth punks apart is their devotion and engagement with specific stories, whether they're Greek myths, Irish folktales, or First Nations folklore.

Myth punks want to revitalize these stories and encourage people to see the connections between these ancient narratives and modern life, whether it's because people have forgotten an important warning or a vital truth. While myth punk is still primarily a subculture for writers, some contemporary fashion designers and models are embracing the myth punk vibe.

Since a reinterpretation of an old story is the only requirement, myth punk styles run the gamut from a cat-eyed, vengeful Hera in heels to an androgynous rediscovery of innocence and corruption in red. In myth punk fashion, a single, memorable aspect of the original story, like an emblem, a color, or a hairstyle, becomes a synecdoche for the characters and themes of the first work.

Then, a designer will build off that element to create something recognizably contemporary. This can make the look as a whole jarring, juxtaposing the symbolic and banal day-to-day, or it can become surprisingly complementary, showing how relevant these stories still are.


Biopunks are excited about the future of the human body. Transhumanists, cyborgs, biohackers, and genome-splicers want us to revamp our physical selves into stronger, stranger people.

When writing, biopunks strive to showcase what it might look like when humans change our bodies, embracing the beauty of the bodies of animals, plants, machines and creatures alike. With these changes, there are often unforeseen consequences, some of which can be physically and psychologically devastating. Yet, simultaneously, changing your own body could be liberating and revitalizing.

In trying to bring this body-accepting future into everyone's lives today, biopunk fashionistas use elements like bold, glamorous prosthetics, hearing aids and glasses: rather than a shameful sign of a damaged body part, they're accessories whose triumph and style someone can take pride in. They also choose far-from-human creature elements, like bioluminescent markings or reptilian scales, to adorn traditional human clothes.

Solar punks, splatter punks, elf punks, myth punks, and biopunks all want to change the way people dress. By doing that, they hope to change the stories people tell and the way they tell them, and by doing that, they encourage every person's unique human potential. Every single person has the power to change this conformist, sellout society into something fantastic and new.

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