Aesthetics Wiki

Not to be confused with Mallcore, a derogatory term often used to describe genres with "whiny" vocals such as Pop Punk, Nu-Metal, and Emo.

Mallsoft (also known as Mallwave) is an aesthetic centered around the shopping mall experience that was popular from the 1970s to 2000s (particularly in the "Memphis Design" era of the 1980s and early 1990s), until the "retail apocalypse" which has been slowly forcing already struggling malls to die off.

Initially conceptualized as a subgenre of Vaporwave, it has evolved into its own aesthetic that elicits a sense of nostalgia in many Gen Xers and Millennials (and potentially older members of Gen Z) using imagery of shopping centers and remixed anonymous soft rock muzak one might hear in a shopping mall. It can range from simply invoking the nostalgic memories of a trip to the mall as a child or it can go into the surreal category by turning up the echo and invoking the imagery of a long-abandoned mall still echo soft Muzak-y sounds throughout its long-empty and decaying halls.

Abandoned malls can also have aspects of Liminal Space. But, of course, they aren't the same. As said before, it is meant to elicit nostalgia with visuals and music of shopping centers and music that is played there. Liminal Space's visuals are unsettling and bring back strange or bad memories.


Visually, Mallsoft aesthetics focus around both the golden era of malls (where they would often be full of customers shopping) or the current state of malls where, outside of a few exceptions, most are struggling to keep the doors open and are on the verge of shutdown. The former is often achieved by playing old recorded footage or movie scenes from the 80s, 90s, and 2000s within malls or through retro TV commercials for either malls or shops that were particularly popular in malls.

The latter, however, plays into After Hours or Liminal Space, and this is, perhaps, the most popular variation on the Mallsoft aesthetic, as it plays into the jarring feeling of being in an empty space that normally (or used to be) so full of life and foot traffic, be it from people shopping at the multitude of stores, people going to the food court to get a quick bite to eat, or just the mall walkers getting their steps in for the day. This style of Mallsoft was made popular by the likes of YouTubers like Dan Bell and Retail Archaeology.

However, contrary to popular belief, not all malls are dying out, and Mallsoft can include taking a visit to malls that are thriving even to this day and blending that into the Mallsoft experience, albeit in a more contemporary direction. This variant of Mallsoft, though, is incredibly rare as most desire the empty spaces and liminality of the modern mall to be the core of their Mallsoft experience.


Fashion-wise, Mallsoft can borrow from a variety of fashions that you could've bought in the heyday of malls that range from a corporate suit and tie to the latest trends of the 80s/90s/2000s. What many consider to be the modern-day preppy fashion can find its roots around this era via companies like Abercrombie and Fitch/Hollister, American Eagle, Old Navy, Aeropostale, or Pink (this isn't to be confused with the traditional Preppy aesthetic, whose aesthetic traditions are carried on via the Academia aesthetic family). For those that want to take it in a slightly edgier direction, one can easily draw inspiration from the Mallgoths of the era who would often hang out either in the food court or outside of the mall entrance when they aren't inside either Hot Topic, Torrid, or Spencer's Gifts.

For more information on how to dress in those particular styles, please visit the appropriate pages.



The Hyperconsumerism of "Mallsoft"

Musically, Mallsoft started as a subgenre of Vaporwave, where it took the soft, muzak-y sounds and corporate lounge music often piped in over the mall's PA system and proceeded to distort and twist the sound to give the feeling of walking around a mall either late at night or in a dead mall in some hazy, long-repressed memory. Some of the most prominent artists in this subgenre include:

Another common trend within Mallsoft aesthetics is to take a variety of popular songs (be it contemporary hits or classic stables) or traditional Vaporwave tracks and adding effects to the song to make them sound like they're being played in an empty mall where the waves of sound echo off of every individual surface within.

Spotify Playlists[]