Health Goth is an aesthetic revolving around biotechnology, monochrome sportswear, fetish culture, extreme cleanliness, and rendered environments. Health goth has roots in "street goth" but focuses on trans-humanism, Net art, technical sportswear, bionic body parts, combat gear and an understanding of physical and mental health. The creators have stated the following keywords they use when sourcing imagery: "mesh, moisture-wicking fabrics, BioWare, body enhancement tech, prosthetics, shoe dipping, various fashion, and performance wear brands, transparent clothing,, chains and light weaponry, tactical gear, elemental aesthetics, corporeal mortification, and rendered environments." However, there is another unrelated variation of Health Goth that is focused more on combining the goth aesthetic with more of a sporty aesthetic and focuses more on working out.
The term "Health Goth" originated from Portland artists, Mike Grabarek and Jeremy Scott (also known as Magic Fades), and artist Chris Cantino who started the original Health Goth Facebook community in 2013. They have stated, "A lot of the influence comes from HOODBYAIR, Cottweiler, Whatever 21, and A D Y N." They also claim they were attributing a name to describe a feeling that already existed. "When we started we’d just see an ad or some clothes we liked, and we’d see something dark or sexual in them that wasn’t intended to be there. So really the subversive side was just portraying the ads in a new light, because we wished these aspects were intentional. Things sort of went from there. In addition to citing athletic wear, future fashion labels and the emotional spectrum, they also reference sources from other online movements and aesthetics; "It’s not just the colour scheme, a lot of the stuff we post are just futuristic or healthy takes on goth style. We find equal inspiration in our Tumblr feed, where you see a lot of 3D rendered images, which have no people or clothing shown. Images of mesh, or a blade with a tribal pattern and a fern or something. It might not be evident upon looking at our page but a lot of our imagery is very Net Art inspired."
The fitness variation of Health Goth was started by Johnny "Deathface" Love, a personal trainer based out of Los Angeles and has gotten coverage from several mainstream news outlets, including Huffington Post, the New York Times, Complex, BuzzFeed, Cosmopolitan, Style.com, and the Guardian, among others.
Grabarek, Cantino, and Scott have stated that Health Goth "has to do with our history of net art obsession and fascination with the rise of trans-humanism. We want to create art that references evolution and relate it back to subcultures, things like bio-enhancement technology, anti-aging medication, and how it all feeds into this ideal of "pursuing perfection". We embrace a lot of these futuristic fantasies but ultimately we all have our own fears and doubts about it. So we like to blur the edges between things that are transcendental and taboo just enough that it begs a discussion." They later stated they were "followers of the transhumanist movement" and related their approach to a rejection of retro-fetishism: "It's pretty fantastical when it comes down to it, and some may find that too strange or taboo, but we prefer that blurry, uncomfortable space over the conventional and twee bullshit you see everywhere."
Blog & Magazine Appearances
Health Goth was first blogged on AMDISCS who interpreted it as the following; "Health Goth relies on an anti-nostalgic dystopian present, refracting the other by means of an exaggerated profile and tribal-aesthetics ... Health Goth projects a completely un-reflexive subjugation of the individual in the urban ecosystem ... It may be hyper-masculine on the surface, betraying a distinctively sus interior of body-mechanized cyborgian humanity within." The trend became viral and was featured prominently by publications such asVice, Huffington Post, Globe and Mail, The Guardian, i-D, Marie Claire, Esquire, Fader, Vogue, Complex, Nylon, GQ, New York Times (the NYT was particularly maligned by Grabarek, Cantino, and Scott), and many more. Health Goth was the #2 most Googled fashion trend of 2014, behind Normcore.
Perhaps the most comprehensive analysis of health goth arrived with Adam Harper's article for The Fader deconstructing the trend. The article posited that health goth was a signifier of a post-genre world, in which aesthetics lead the way for subcultural and microgenre movements as they grow increasingly unique and amalgamated. The creators seemed to reflect this sentiment, as they stated in an article to Complex: "Health Goth is not a lifestyle, it's an exercise in aesthetics. Any publication trying to tell you that Health Goth is about working out has simply taken the two words at face value and opted for a less challenging, and extremely boring alternative." Cantino, Grabarek, and Scott refused to suggest lifestyle tenets related to health goth, instead choosing to encourage viewers to "simply pick and choose which elements they like."