The look is inspired by sci-fi fantasies like Dune, continuing the goth and grunge revival

Are you tired of wearing sweatpants? You might be ready for a new trend in fashion that replaces sweatpants with elasticated waistbands.

Taking inspiration from dark cinematic fantasies such as The Matrix Resurrections and Dune, “dystopia-core” comes as we approach the third year of pandemic living.

Dystopia-core, which is in direct opposition to “dopamine dressing” – wearing overtly fun clothes to help lift your mood – can be seen as the next step of the grunge and goth revivals.

“Fashion statements often contain a sense of defiance.” Geraldine Wharry, a trend forecaster, says that in this case, the defiance is the dark and dystopic aspect. “The idea that optimism doesn’t look cool or reflect the current times is similar to what punks stood up for in the 70s.”

Image: Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss in The Matrix Resurrections

Long leather jackets and cargo pants have been the most popular items in this trend. According to, online searches for the latter have increased by 117% in the third quarter and fourth quarters of last year. Meanwhile, searches for cargo pants has increased by 45% year-on-year.

TikTok also has Dystopia core, which is a DIY trend where thinly textured clothes are layered over each other to create futuristic, futuristic looks. The hashtag is also known as “avant apocalypse” and has been viewed more than 265,000 times on social media.

“People have stopped the rather passive onesie/pyjama stay-at-home, work-from-home-in-your-comfort-clothes trend and realise that they need to be more active and get out – and to do that, you need to be wearing something more functional, more resilient – and more classy,” says Nick Groom, the author of The Vampire: A New History.

Zara Anishanslin says it is a reaction to current post-apocalyptic conditions. She says, “The experience of living with a pandemic is similar to living through war. Both are traumatising collective experiences, both involve people fighting on the frontlines, both result in distressingly high numbers of deaths.” These similarities make it easy to see why fashion popularised originally by military use would experience a revival.

Francesca Granata, Parsons School of Design, sees these clothes in a way that protects them from the hostile outside world. She says, “In the past two years, we have been thinking about how we can protect ourselves against outside pathogens so it’s not difficult to see how clothes could function, at most symbolically, as an extension for this shield that has been created around us.”

“One solution to [the pandemic] was to create a durable and self-contained image,” Groom says. “Not blur it with fringes, scarfs and tassels but by making the human body sleek and defined.” This look is exemplified by the largely black and sinister clothes worn by Kanye West, Julia Fox, and all made by Balenciaga.

Fashion labels like Khaite or A-Cold Wall* also express these emotions, as well as Balenciaga.

“The idea of protection is a bit more universal across luxury, contemporary and streetwear now, for sure,” says A-Cold-Wall*’s Samuel Ross, who tackles dystopia-core in his autumn/winter 2022 collection in Milan this week.”

He says that they have experimented with the volume and length of the canvases. “We have always had a utilitarian approach to our work, but we wanted to add a more personal touch to this season’s collection. We used mottled, handpainted and fired canvases to communicate a sense of [that]].”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *