What is Health Goth?
Something between an Internet meme, an ironic joke and a real-life fashion trend, whose aesthetic is best summed up as "sportswear for cyberpunks." Though the term "goth" conjures images of pale, emaciated club kids who wouldn't dare step a Doc Martens-shod foot inside a gym, lest they risk prolonging their time on this miserable stone, the look is more "post-apocalyptic cyborg" than the Cure. Think Aeon Flux, not Anne Rice.
Where did it originate?
Right here in Portland. In 2013, Mike Grabarek and Jeremy Scott, of electro-R&B duo Magic Fades, and video artist Chris Cantino founded a Facebook community as a repository for images that fit a certain milieu—as Grabarek told Complex magazine, some key terms are "mesh, moisture-wicking fabrics, BioWare, body-enhancement tech, prosthetics, shoe-dipping, various fashion and performance-wear brands, transparent clothing, chains and light weaponry, tactical gear, elemental aesthetics, corporal mortification, and rendered environments." Although Health Goth derived primarily from European and Asian street fashion, Grabarek says he and Scott were also inspired by clothing spotted at dance nights around Portland. They deemed the style "Health Goth," mostly as a joke. Last April, a friend at the blog AM Discs published a piece titled
"Transcending Normcore With Health Goth," describing it as a reflection of "an anti-nostalgic dystopian present." It exploded from there, getting written up, with
varying degrees of seriousness, by mainstream outlets such as The New York Times, Marie Claire, Vice and the Huffington Post—which, of course, has led some to declare the trend dead on arrival.
What are some specific examples of Health Goth in popular culture?
If and when Health Goth appears in the dictionary, it will be accompanied by a photo of buff, middle-aged Trent Reznor. Rooney Mara in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is pretty Health Goth, too. Also, Karen O's cover of "Immigrant Song," which plays over that movie's opening credits, would make a great Health Goth workout jam.
See also: Asia Argento, Danzig, Yeezus-era Kanye West, "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan, the alien from Alien, Venom (the Spider-Man villain), the T-1000.
If I want to adopt the Health Goth look, where should I shop?
Not healthgoth.com. That site, which sells monochromatic shirts and sports bras emblazoned with a bastardized Nike symbol and the phrase "I Just Can't," was started by a Chicago DJ. According to Magic Fades, the website is promulgating a false interpretation of the Health Goth lifestyle. Approved brands include Hood by Air, Whatever 21, NVRMND and Adidas, which has met with Magic Fades to discuss possible collaborations.
Is it really about personal fitness?
Well, yes and no. One of Magic Fades' complaints is that the media have twisted Health Goth into being about making healthy living attractive to fringe cultures when it's really more about fashion, art and the Internet. But a perusal of #healthgoth on Instagram shows a lot of people have begun to take the term literally, and an article in The New York Times profiled personal trainers who fit the description.