Alternative Fashion’s Move to Mainstream

Alternative fashion’s popularity has increased due to social media platforms, influencers and trends, giving mainstream fashion a run for its money.


Cierra Nervo

The norm of wearing mainstream clothes isn’t considered as “normal” anymore. In recent years, alternative fashion has become increasingly popular.

Society has always tried to control people’s fashion choices, but as more social media influencers believe in expressing personality through appearance, the alternative fashion community has been growing.

Ever since social media like TikTok started inspiring young generations to try unique and ‘alt’ styles, it has become normal to see goths/emos in public.

Mainstream fashion is what people call basic clothing—a pair of skinny jeans, a blouse and sneakers — a so-called’ norm’ outfit.

But mainstream fashion is moving out of the spotlight to make way for alternative fashion. ‘Alt’ fashion is fashion that stands apart from the mainstream. Alt fashion involves many subcultures, containing styles such as emo, goth, cyberpunk, kinderwhore, grunge, etc.

Boys are wearing skirts, chokers, and black lipstick; girls wearing thigh-high boots, fishnet leggings, and neon-dyed hair. These are just a few examples of alt style.

Alt styles are known for ignoring society’s norms, as early as 1985 and 1995, during the rock era. The styles that started in the rock era did not become very popular until major social media platforms began to notice these styles and genres.

The alt community is getting recognized now that more and more people learn what alternative fashion and its many subcultures are. The rise of alt fashion can be attributed to social media platforms.

In the past couple of years, social media like TikTok have been used by popular ‘alt’ influencers who share their style/trends with their followers. TikTok has its own unofficial side, ‘alt TikTok,’ an online community filled with people who dress alternatively all over the world.

Social media users find inspiration for their fashion choices from the popular icons on TikTok and the resulting in the ‘alt’ community’s widespread popularity.

Xowie Jones, a lip-sync and comedy content creator known for posting videos in which she lip-syncs to Beach Bunny songs while wearing corsets, spiky accessories, and dark/bloody makeup believes that ‘alt’ TikTok is an entirely different community than other social media.

“I was getting tired of just posting photos of my outfits on other apps. TikTok gave me a way to show myself and my style more creatively. It took a while to get comfortable posting the content I really like making, well-thought-out, and sometimes gory, but I’m pretty much over the judgment of being a little different.,” Xowie said in an interview with Vogue.

The alt community is everywhere; a few students say that social media, specifically TikTok, has inspired their styles to be more ‘out of the box.’

“There’s a lot of fashion influence on social media that is outlandish and fun,” Cora Vides said. “It makes me want to look for unusual clothing, especially in thrift stores! I definitely bought into the ‘chunky shoes’ trend.”

When referring to TikTok influencing her style, she said, “Tik Tok has some influence but not exclusively, since fashion is present on all social media platforms. All in all, social media provides cool ideas that stay in my mind for when I’m looking for something to wear or buy.”   

Junior Phoebe Ray also expresses that she got certain aspects of their fashion from TikTok. “It has so many great fashion tips, ideas, and places to shop, so it is very helpful.”

The rise of alt fashion’s popularity is the start of alt styles becoming more ‘normal’ today. Thanks to social media and their influencer’s platforms, people are starting to learn about these alternative aesthetics and trends and learning how to express themselves using their appearance.