Saturday, 15 March 2014

Encyclopaedia of Alternative Fashion † Emo

The full Encyclopaedia of Alternative Fashion can be found here.

Okay, so I'm tackling that much maligned subculture, emo. Emos have become something of a punching bag for every single other person on the planet, ridiculed for the way they dress, for being stupid angsty teenagers who cut themselves...

Hey, that sounds similar to the way some people view Goth...

Personally, I am open to many ways of life. Emos, properly understood, should not be the focus of contempt. Yes, they give off a world-weary I'm-so-tired-of-life-kill-me-now vibe but who hasn't felt like that one time or other? Who are we to dismiss them and make their lives miserable? There's enough crap going around the world without adding to it.



Gender Balance
A pretty good mix of boys and girls.

Defining colours
  • Black is a must
  • And often red
  • Although sometimes other colours slip in

Emo (short for 'emotional') is a subculture that, like the various Goth derivatives, sprang out of Punk music. This particular brand of Punk music, known as emo or emocore, focused very heavily on emotions, often with very personal lyrics. The fashion subculture that followed along had a look that partially resembled some Gothic styles (and indeed, it is sometime hard to tell Emo apart from Mall Goths) and later evolved into Scene Kids. 

Boys and girls often have very similar looks, giving the whole tribe a very androgynous look. Hair is usually black, with a long, asymmetric fringe. The back is usually short and spiked. Heavy black eyeliner and black nail polish are staples.

Many Emos where black skinny jeans, red and black stripes, chunky black shoes (especially creepers) and scarves. It tends to be somewhat 'nerdy' in appearance. Andy Radin has an Emo fashion tips page here. Emos are less prominent these days, having been replaced by the 'trendier' looking Scene Kids (which have also lost popularity in more recent times).


Emo's bad rep comes from the very highly publicised tendencies of Emos kids to be depressed, cut or commit suicide. It is often accused of causing these tendencies, and hence as dangerous. As a side note here, I feel that this puts the cart before the horse: surely it is depressed people that flock to Emo, rather than Emo causing the depression?

Of course, this hasn't stop Emo youth from being harassed and sometimes even killed.


Style icons
Hayley Williams of Paramore is considered something of an icon, particularly in her early style with messy hair and a preference for black casual clothing.


Francis Lapointe aka Frank Wolf was a popular Emo model, known for his very androgynous looks and his well executed cosplays.


There is also a long list of Emo models here.

Inspiration in popular culture
Identifying Emo characters in popular culture is quite difficult as there seems to be a very blurred boundary between punk, emo and goth in many movies and books. However...

I'm going straight for the jugular with Uchiha Sasuke うちはサスケ from the anime Naruto ナルト. Seriously, check out that fringe and the spiked hair:

In fact, there's a huge number of Emo characters in Naruto, including Gaara and most of the Uchiha clan.

The Japanese seem really big on Emo characters, because a number of the Final Fantasy boys seem very Emo too, like Cloud Strife, Squall Leonhart and Vincent Valentine.


Further reading and resources


  1. a fashion around a single haircut

    1. I guess they're not very creative, are they... Goth has so many variations and it also sprang up from a music style, but I guess emo is a very 'young' subculture and hasn't had the time to develop.

  2. The original Emo look really didn't involve much black at all. Early Emo looked very hipster - with thick rimmed glasses, sweater vests, and messenger bags. As it became a Hot Topic fad, the style and sound changed drastically. Emo of today is a lot darker than Emo of the early 90's.

    1. That's interesting... I didn't have much exposure to a Emo when I was young, so I only ever remember the hordes of black and red that thronged shopping centres. And information on Emo seems hard to find


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