Style Tribes

Today we had a follow on workshop from our Subculture lecture (a post that I still need to finish up and add! I’m too excited by it and keep it editing it, so it isn’t quite done yet!).


It was all about Style Tribes.


Wiki definition of Style Tribe: “A style tribe or fashion tribe is a group of people that dress in a distinctive style to show their membership in this group. The term “style tribe” appears to have been coined by, anthropologist, Ted Polhemus, who analyzed style tribes in terms of the modern primitive and an abandonment of a linear trajectory of progress in fashion.”

So a style tribe is basically a social group within a culture that has a specific, distinctive style, as apposed to a subculture which has deeper meanings and the members share combined beliefs; a style tribe is purely based on the aesthetic look of the group.


Some examples of style tribes include:

New Romanitcs


Cyber Goth


Death Rocker, Emo, Skaters, Industrial Punk, Kawaii, Nu Goth, Hippie, Raver, Punk, Raver, etc. etc. etc. (some of these style tribes are also subcultures, but there are also people who may dress in the fashion but don’t have the ideals, ie. there is overlap between style tribes and subcultures. Also, style tribes tend to be things that peple can flit between or may only dress that way at the weekend, whereas if you were a member of a subculture you would dress that way all the time and firmly identify yourself with the label).


We were firstly asked to describe a few of these style tribes in detail by looking at pictures, even though we hadn’t heard of some of them before, and write down the main aspects that define that subculture.

For example: New Romantics – mixed genders, a little androgynous, age group 20-40, influenced heavily by performance, Boy George was a celebrity icon, etc.

At first we had no idea what to put and found it a little difficult but soon got into and it was just like snooping through peoples rooms!


And then it was onto judging our own style tribes/the fashion tribe in which we hoped to sell/promote our work to. Because I don’t feel I have a defined style yet nor do I have a “product” to sell yet I found this really quite difficult to do. I ended up picking a fashion that I really like (and if I could afford it would dress like that all time, but fancy tights and corsets dinnae come cheap!).

Here is what I achieved in classtime (I hope you can read my writing):

We only had a couple of naff fashion magazines to cut out images for this, so here are some better images of this style:

(drinking red wine is very punk cabaret!)

(as is getting naked on a red carpet)

(as is rocking on purpose)

(I’m sure you’ll notice most of the images are Amanda Palmer…. I was only going to post a couple but I was going through the images and I got carried away…. she is my style icon!)


Punk cabaret originated as a theme/mood of cabaret performance also known as dark cabaret which played with more satirical and darkly humored themes, and has become more of a fashion based tribe.

I’ve added the word Brechtian in brackets because “Brechtian Punk Cabaret” was the style Amanda Palmer described The Dresden Dolls music as before journalists/critics/the media could assign the band a category.

I think the best way to describe the style is: the clothing worn by people who go to Amanda Palmer shows! There is a costume aspect to it, but at the same time there is an effortlessness to it; perhaps the costume is worn “on stage”/when going out and the more casual side is worn in the down time. It is rooted in cabaret, in burlesque, vaudeville and the circus as well as playing with decadence, military, vintage, punk, goth, Victorian and industrial styles.

I love it.

It is how I would I dress if I could afford to fill my wardrobe with awesome tights, corsets and waterfall skirts…

I don’t know if this is the market I am selling to, but if it was I would get Amanda Palmer to do my advertising for me! I would make it music based, advertise in vintage stores, take it over to the USA, have it at the circus, and in cabaret shows, and burlesque shows and other punk cabaret theater productions, do a heck of a lot of tweeting and everything else internety. I would definitively use the bands/the artists/the writers/etc. as models, as promoters, try and get them to wear my stuff and hopefully promote it as well; make it popular among the style icons and it will become popular among the whole style tribe.


Well I hope you enjoyed that and I would love to hear your comments as well as any insights you have on the punk cabaret style. Also, if you are a frequent reader of my blog have you picked up any aesthetics or style tribe that you think I have an affinity with?


Chloe out.


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