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Why we are still into cottagecore, goblincore aesthetics

An urban dictionary of sub-trends born on social media that are finding a lot space on the runway

A scroll through Eve Fraser’s account will make it apparent that more than fashion, makeup defines the Egirl/Eboy look.
A scroll through Eve Fraser’s account will make it apparent that more than fashion, makeup defines the Egirl/Eboy look. (Courtesy Instagram/@eve.frsr)

The hyper-digitisation of our lives has resulted in the birth of several fashion sub-cultures. With romanticism, nostalgia and fandom as the common threads, trends like cottagecore, dark academia, Egirl and Eboy, Scene Kids and Goblincore have amassed a massive following worldwide. 

We take a close look at some of these trends: 

Also read: One Instagram face, please


On Instagram, #darkacademia has over 600,000 posts, with more than 38,000 posts that have a dark and brooding mood. Exploring #cottagecore’s 14,00,000 posts, the aesthetic is striking: dainty florals, pastels, prairie dresses reminiscent of the times when people lived a more simple life. 

What's more, Instagram trends following the lead of those ruling the runways seem to now be a thing of the past as, in a reversal fitting of our times, these trends are inspiring the collections of luxury fashion houses like Celine, Colina Strada, Rodarte, and Iris Van herpen. 

With schools and universities shut last year, there was a rise in academia aesthetics filling the void of not being able to dress up for graduation, prom, or just everyday classes. Its sister style dark academia, a mix of goth and academia, has also garnered a substantial following, as illustrated by’s 76,000 followers. Its bio reads β€œπšπš˜πš—'𝚝 πš“πšžπšœπš πšœπšπšŽπšŠπš• πšπš‘πšŽ πšœπšπš’πš•πšŽ, πšœπšπšŽπšŠπš• πšπš‘πšŽ πšπš‘πš’πš—πš”πš’πš—πš πš‹πšŽπš‘πš’πš—πš πšπš‘πšŽ πšœπšπš’πš•πšŽβ€ referring to the pillars of reading, writing, and learning that the aesthetic is built on. β€œI really appreciate the way this aesthetic put art and studies as the foundation of a whole lifestyle,” says Ana Paula Alsan, 21, from Brazil, who started the D’Arc Academia page.   

Alsan describes the dark academia aesthetic as β€œa classic vintage style. People that follow this aesthetic usually buy from thrift stores and find really great clothes!” 

Heady nostalgia marks this aesthetic as tweed blazers, plaid trousers, turtlenecks, woollen coats and checked ties with a worn-out leather satchel and a coffee cup being the staple accessories. The colour palette borrows from goth and punk, with tans, browns, blacks, and greys being the favourite with pictures always edited with a tinge of autumnal sepia. β€œMost of my audience is from India, they love the theme and the response is great! But if we go with Dark academia fashion, it isn't really popular in India. The long coats, boots, and plaids are quite different from our fashion and it's very rare to see people dedicated to these here,” notes Pratik Dherange, 21, from Pune who started the Deadpoetstribe page (94,000 followers) in February 2020.

β€œDonna Tartt (writer), Charles Baudelaire (writer), Caravaggio (painter), Aurora (singer)” serve as inspirations for Alsan. Harry Potter, If We Were Villians by M.L. Rio, Dead Poets Society (1989), School Ties (1992), and Kill Your Darlings (2013) is also on the list of the essential pop-culture influences or inspirations for dark academia enthusiasts. From the runway, Ralph Lauren’s Fall 2016 RTW collection has long acted as a guidebook to this aesthetic.


Cottagecore combines nostalgia with a romanticisation of nature and the longing to be outdoors.
Cottagecore combines nostalgia with a romanticisation of nature and the longing to be outdoors. (Courtesy Instagram/@nadiiife)

β€œPretend that you're living in a Thomas Hardy novel. Or Wuthering Heights specifically. Or that you're Anne Shirley from L.M. Montgomery's books,” says Ragini Nag Rao, or Kittehinfurs as her 24,000-strong Instagram followers know her. β€œI wanted to create the same sort of ethereal, whimsical, storybook imagery that featured a fat Indian woman instead of thin white or thin Asian women,” says the Kolkata-born UK resident. She is describing the cottagecore aesthetic, which combines nostalgia with a romanticisation of nature and the longing to be outdoors. Its style is heavy on puff-sleeved dresses, billowing white gowns, floral prints in pastel shades, and everything dreamy and quaint. The trend reminisces the simple days of the past, spent in β€œreading, baking, sewing, knitting, drinking tea and frolicking in the meadows and forests”. The trend seems to be catching on the runways as exemplified by Rodarte’s floral dresses in its SS 2021 dispatch. Closer home Eka’s SS 2021 collection Unforgotten Memories and its floral motifs on flowy silhouettes come close to mimicking the bliss of simplistic living. 


While imbibing all the principles and aesthetics of cottagecore, the Goblincore trend stretches it further to the extent of fairy dresses, colourful hair, charms inspired by nature, and an earthy colour palette of green, brown, red, and plaids. What seems like a longing for the times when humans were solely dependent on the earth for their livelihood, the Goblincore fashion aesthetic is dominated by mushrooms, insects, shells, and any other natural ephemera that isn’t β€œpretty” enough to qualify for cottagecore. A deep dive into #Goblincore posts on Instagram will illustrate this further as talismans like pins, patches, charms, and miniature trinkets as jewellery are abundant along with anything with moss and mushrooms. This year, Iris Van Herpen and couturier Rahul Mishra’s Haute Couture collection also saw mushrooms as their core inspiration and recurring motif. 

#Egirl and #Eboy

On the other end of the spectrum is a trend that echoes the mid to late 2000s Scene kids from the days of MySpace, Egirl and Eboy is the Gen Z update of scene kids. Now, the community consists of teenagers amassing thousands of dollars streaming video games on Twitch, proving the obvious Cyber influence on the trend. A scroll through Eve Fraser’s account will make it apparent that more than fashion, makeup defines the Egirl/Eboy look. Neon coloured-liner, rainbow hair and anime-inspired make-up with hearts under the eyes to go with fishnets, harnesses, mini skirts, and band tees seem to be recurrent. For Eboys, dual-coloured hair is a common sight and they have already made their way into fashion. The neon hair and tie-dye pants from the Scene era made an appearance in Colina Strada’s SS 2021 show while Celine’s SS 2021 collection titled The Dancing Kid is a β€œdocumentary" collection spanning EBoys and current skate culture,” read the show note. "A candid portrait of a generation that took advantage of the confinement and isolation to assert itself and emancipate itself creatively, spontaneously inventing an initiatory language anchored in dance and teen romance." It was no surprise that the new face of Celine for the collection was TikTok star and Eboy Noen Eubanks.

Also read: The beauty of being an Instagram billionaire 



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