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Punk Vs Goth: What is the difference?

Punk vs goth: these two genres and cultures are often confused by the mainstream. 

If we had a pound for every time someone asked us what the difference is between punk and goth; we’d be able to buy the Dracula style castle of our nightmares! 

gothic woman with tattoos

So we thought we’d clear the cobwebs and dispel the fogginess around punk and goth culture! Let’s explore everything you need to know about the differences and similarities between goth and punk.

Are punk and goth the same? Are there any similarities?

To dive into the differences and similarities between punk and goth, we first need to define what they are. 

Punk is a subculture that evolved during the seventies and primarily came from the UK. 

Seventies Britain was an exciting yet challenging time with a lot of changes both socially and politically. 

Punk’s uprising was anti-authoritarian and steeped in a DIY aesthetic made to shock. At the time, it was rare to see someone pop to the shops wearing ripped clothing held together by safety pins, covered in studs, and with brightly coloured hair, facial piercings and outlandish makeup! Punk was loud, aggressive, in-your-face and anti-establishment. 

Today some may view punk as ‘destructive’, but that’s not necessarily true. OG punk icon and fashion designer Vivienne Westwood continues to channel the punk spirit in her clothes while raising awareness about issues including climate change and human rights. Activists like Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion may not be what we commonly associate with punk although their approach to peaceful activism could also be seen as punk. 

At the time many punks were also looking for another outlet for their more melancholy side when the movement started…

Cue the beginnings of goth culture! Goth music emerged as the antithesis of punk in the eighties. 

Before now, the word ‘goth’ was not previously used to describe the movement, which is why goth culture is often described as a child of the eighties. However, if you delve further into art and literary history, you will discover that the goth culture has existed for centuries. 

To be goth is to have an appreciation for the darker aspects of life and after the brutal harshness of punk, for some, there was a desire for a darker and more brooding interpretation of rock music. 

Peter Murphy shirtless and about to dive into a crowd

Goth culture blossomed after punk, with bands like Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Cure, Bauhaus at the forefront of this new emerging subculture.

Siouxie and the Banshees

Visually, black clothing, heavily lined eyes, platform boots, black or red lipstick and big hair became a popular way of expressing your gothic tendencies. On the style front, dark clothing influenced by the romanticism of Victorian mourning attire and 20th century fetish wear became seen as quintessentially goth, as did imagery like bats, graveyards, crucifixes, pentagrams and other occult symbols. 

The fashion of the original 80s goths tends now to be referred to as ‘trad goth’, whilst the term ‘nu goth’ is used to describe the more contemporary style adopted by gen-z.  Since its inception goth culture has constantly evolved to include numerous aesthetics under the same umbrella, and what it means to be goth has changed so much over time. Whilst sub-genres like cybergoth, pastel goth, health goth, and steampunk all have their roots in goth culture, they all have their own unique take.

punk on the beach

Similarly, punk has also continued to change and create new sub-genres including hardcore, emo and riot grrrl, but whilst the differences between punk and goth may be primarily external, these movements share one goal: to make people feel like they belong and be able to express themselves however they want. 

Can you be both goth and punk?

You can be both punk and goth! Punk is often considered one of the many roots of goth culture, so many goths love punk music and vice versa. 

It’s easy to see why goth and punk are often muddled up in the mainstream. While goth can be seen as the quieter counterpart of punk, they both share a strong affinity with each other.

Gothic woman with tattoos and long hair

Both goth and punk share specific values like anti-conformity, being true to oneself, and creativity. Goths and punks have a shared passion for themes considered ‘dark’ or ‘macabre. 

Goth musicians like Siouxie Sioux have even overlapped with rock elements, while the poetry in the songs of punk pioneer Patti Smith has overarching gothic themes. 

Goths and punks are some of the most creative, open-minded, and kindest people with various interests outside of alternative culture. The beauty of goth and punk movements is that they both champion people staying true to their identities and self-expression. 

alternative models wearing sunglasses

If you’re unsure where you fit on the alternative spectrum between goth and punk, experiment with your favourite aspects. At Attitude Clothing, we pride ourselves on being a haunted hub with plenty of gothic clothing and punk fashion available. Shop our women’s and men’s clothing, accessories and homewares made to express your individuality online now.

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