Paper Mag and the Goth Witch of Lies

This darling article gets goth so wrong, that I actually had to write about it the second I saw it. We are going to go through this step by step. I’m not having it and links are in bold, with the original article quotes in italics. Bat fights follow immediately after tea time. Duh.

Paper Magazine, Canadian Gothic, August 2012

“For many years, goths had a limited amount of places to purchase their dark wear. Hot Topic and Lip Service were the only two places that sold affordable, basic clothing for weirdos who needed to dance to Ministry on the weekends.” But in 2015, goths have an amazing world of beautiful designer clothing that exists on the fringes of fashion – a place that mirrors their standing within culture as a whole. This world of witchy wear is far enough away from the mainstream that it has not been diluted by concepts like seasonal trends or commercialism, offering spooky consumers an opportunity to invest in handmade works of art. Dark fashion has even evolved beyond the classic oversized blazer and creepers combo: today, motifs include waterfall hemlines and cascading geometrical drapes. Modern goth is a style that is clearly indebted to the work of Rick Owens and Comme des Garcons. But by being given its own cultural space to flourish (mainly Instagram), it has combined with Western magical traditions and Victorian romanticism to create an aesthetic that is wholly its own. And while this community has a long way to go in terms of racial,gender, and body diversity, it is run mainly by women for women, and many of these designers collaborate with each other on a regular basis. Here, we’ve highlighted 10 clothing and accessory designers who are refining the notions of dark clothing for dark souls.”

The two places listed are far from the only retailers goths had to choose from for years. The use of the word weirdos following the misinformation is mildly insulting, but we’ll only side eye that particular comment. I completely reject the “witchy wear” because that is a single aspect of goth clothing. Honey, I can assure you, not every single one of us has a pentagram on every goddamn thing we own. The part of this gets me the most is the complete ignorance of “seasonal trends” and “commercialism” because very high end designers have been inspired by, and in turn inspired, the idea of goth fashion for decades. Alexander McQueen for the grandest of starters, followed promptly by Jean Paul Gautier and those are just obvious places to start. Goths always had the option to invest in “handmade works of art”, it just wasn’t as instantaneous as say…Etsy? Ebay? A massive part of goth culture is being able to at least attempt to make one goth item yourself. It’s like a sin in our culture not to, especially considering its history of “limited retailers”. You so gently managed to work that eye roll directed at the iconic goth uniform that we all have proudly owned at least once in our lives, into the phrase “evolved beyond the classic oversized blazer and creepers combo”, but you failed to carry through and referenced more timeless features of an average goth’s wardrobe. “Clearly indebted” is a phrase I find to be too big for your lightweight knowledge of our culture to swing blindly into a description of it. Never mind you referring to Instagram as cultural space, when a far more relevant social media platform would Tumblr, if anything, or blogging websites such as this one. Western magical traditions? Sit down please. Our community has come a long way in a short amount of time, and it is not run mainly by women for women, it is run by people for people. 

For the rest of this we’re going to pick through for the phrases I find the most problematic, as I’m mad mostly at your writing and not the actual stores. But I have a question first. How is you used the term “vaguely occult” in the beginning of the paragraph, but somehow found out about Crowley and Futhark? Because that isn’t “vaguely”, that’s about as occult as it can get in this witch house you continue to vaguely remind us of as if it were the great great grandfather of goth itself.

“…just a bit of drape that feels natural” is self explanatory. The art of draping fabric is designed specifically to play upon the weight of the material. Draping is natural. “It’s the kind of clothing that makes you feel you’ve sprung fromthe depths of the earth while you’re at the grocery store.” What grocery store do you shop at and why do you crave to be like the most stylish pop culture zombie to ever rise there?

And where a lot of contemporary goth designers focus on unisex pieces (no doubt a nod to RickOwens), NUIT’s skirts and tops hug the female form, with dripping bell sleeves and hip-accentuating flared coats. Each piece is available in very limited quantities, making them a treasure to own. It’s clothing for the lifestyle witch, one who wants a wardrobe to feel as magical as their altar space.” You’re beginning to repeat yourself with this witchy business in a way that is no longer cute and borderline annoying. May I introduce you to the words “ethereal” and “sublime”?  Androgyny is a major thing in goth culture, like a lot, like more than Rick Owens knows.  “as magical as their altar space.” I can’t even begin to address this.

“...your black magic vibes. The leather pieces – a cage skirt, cropped tops, and high-waisted shorts- are largely impractical but stunningly beautiful, and are clearly made with the utmost attention to craftsmanship.” Black magic is mildly racist on a brisk Tuesday afternoon, and your liberal use of adverbs is also largely impractical.

To be honest, there is no point in going through the rest of it, because the descriptions could be switched around and no one would know the difference. The constant references to witches and overt gothic ideas is dizzying, because it doesn’t make any one of these stores stand out from the same tired goth product descriptions we see every day. Paper is selling a concept of goth witchiness via Rick Owens, and does none of it justice.

The Prescription: Hang around the actual goth subculture and not the one you saw on Instagram for five minutes. I think you’ll genuinely like it because it’s fun here and bell sleeves can catch on fire when you’re working on your altar. The people who make up the two communities you’re trying to appeal to generally appreciate newcomers.

May I be so bold as to recommend you take a moment to follow this blog by Joining the Exploration Party at the top of the page? Or perhaps take a trip through the dark side with my sibling at Cemetery Confessions? If you find my shamelessness too hard to swallow, there’s always these bite sized delights at Facebook,Youtube,Tumblr,Instagram.

Until next time,

Don’t be hungry for life. Be ravenous.

Zakkarrii Edison Daniels

2 thoughts on “Paper Mag and the Goth Witch of Lies

    1. hellsquookie

      See they have another contributor who actually a decent goth article. But with this contributor it’s like marketing 101, using buzzwords repeatedly to solidify a brand or trend, and say things without actually saying things. I felt bad at first, because I normally throw in disclaimers and all that, but I removed it for this one. Paper Mag has a lot of questionable stuff on their site, and I don’t appreciate what they contribute to culture in general.

      To be honest, I love responding to badly written goth articles. It reminds me of how much I take pride in being a part of the culture.

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