In an indie vs goth battle of looks, goth wins every time, says Stuart Stubbs.

Illustration by Roger Catalano

Illustration by Roger Catalano


Ever had someone ask you, “how would you describe your look?” Ever had to say, “erm, I dunno really, erm, ‘indie’, I guess.” I have. It was about 60 seconds before I’ve realised that I mustn’t have a look at all, not if that was the best I could do. ‘Tramp’ is more definite, and hobos are no doubt more supportive of each other’s threads than the ‘indie’ crowd is too. “Luvley Nike Air. Where d’ya get it?”

“Found it on a curb.”

“Shame there’s only one, but well done you!”

Indie is a surly scene; competitive and threatened; the only genre egotistical enough to lament the passing of another awards season where the best wins. Indie cares more than it lets on, and although it’ll never admit it, it’s because indie has become the norm; the ‘indie look’ – my indie look – has become the beige of the high street. Indie is jeans that taper a bit, flat hair and canvas shoes, but little else.

Goth. Now that’s a look – dedicated and alienating; all five-inch soles and trench coats come the height of summer. The extremity of goths relinquishes them from the snootiness that follows indie around. It unites where safe ‘ol indie turns like minds against each other. Walk into an indie pub the spit of Julian Casablancas and everyone else will think you’re a try-hard wanker, all the while envying how your hair sticks up in just the right places; enter a goth club like Marylyn Manson’s twin and you’re a hero. The same goes for old school, cheeks-pierced-and-DMs-polished punks, and the metal crowd, and anyone who doesn’t have to “erm” when asked to describe their look.

It relative of course, and I’m being more than a little sweeping in my statements. Plenty of Strokes fans bath in the comfort of seeing someone wearing a dirtier pair of Cons than theirs; many goths are spiteful pricks, I’m sure. And if you go to Southend-on-Sea, hair that’s any longer than a grade two crop will still receive “it’s Vernon Kay!” hur hurs a plenty, even if he did cut his hair back when June Sarpong was the first lady of youth television. You’d be the rockstar of the town; considered a try-hard wanker for totally different reasons.

You just can’t win with the indie look anymore. Goths are feared by pensioners and harangued by wide boys, but they’re self-celebrated within their own crypts and backrooms. They’re outsiders who at least have each other to say, “Well, I think you look good.” Indie’s too proud and jealous for that, while the wider world can hardly be arsed to turn their heads anymore.

By Stuart Stubbs

Originally published in issue 26 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. March 2011

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