MODA Blog

The Most Notable Subcultures of the 2010's

The Most Notable Subcultures of the 2010's

With 2020 approaching, MODA Blog rounds up the best, worst, and most iconic phenoms of the 2010s.

As Millennials were welcomed into adulthood by an abysmal economy and Gen Z became the first teens to be raised on Instaculture, the 2010s saw identity crises of epic proportions. The scramble for belonging in a culture obsessed with branding led to large and devoted youth subcultures with carefully curated aesthetics and behaviors. Alongside these strong subcultural identities rose the “starter pack” phenomenon, where each group gets picked apart and chiseled down to its most essential traits. These collages get liked and shared consistently, as these groups are so prevalent and clear cut that seeing these groups of images instantly evokes entire groups of people that have used these images to define their personal brand. Sociologist Dick Hebdige popularized analyzing subcultures as a means of understanding the socio-political state of the society, considering that subcultures are often tied to music, a popular outlet of the current political feelings (read Subculture: The Meaning of Style!). Is he right? Or do people just like aesthetics that look pretty to them? Either way, here are the top subcultures of the past decade:

7. Soft grunge

Combining the edgy sensibility of the 90s with the soft, folksy hipsterness of the early 2010’s, soft grungers could be spotted in a beanie, Converse or Doc Martens, and flannel shirts with a vintage (read: Hot Topic) band t-shirt underneath, Nirvana being the holy grail. Gained traction on Tumblr as a gateway culture to being ~ edgy ~. Often defined by the 90s alternative and modern indie pop they idolized, particularly the alterna-cool girls of the era like Lana Del Rey, Lorde and Sky Ferreira.

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6. “IG baddie”

Instagram was the MVP of the 2010s. Every subculture found its footing and expressed itself most clearly on Instagram, as its platform allows the filters/edits/commonalities between posters to speak for themselves. Pioneered by the Kardashian’s and their signature brand of ethnic ambiguity, the IG baddie could commonly be seen with a cropped sweater and leggings or a body con dress, acrylic nails and matte lips. Meticulously manicured brows, highlighter and sharp eyeliner complete the look.

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5. Art hoe

Developed in the mid-2010’s, the art hoe has a complex history that is often lost in the aesthetic shuffle. “Art Hoe” was originated as an online movement for people (especially women) of color to feel freedom to express their full selves creatively and visually. An attempt to reclaim the historically demeaning term “hoe,” it featured lots of bright colors and photo edits and was adopted by celebrities Amanda Stenberg and Willow Smith. Over time, as many movements are, it was transformed, washed out, and turned into hipster 2.0: soft edition.

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4. Hypebeast

See: hypebeast.com/fashion. See: grailed.com. See: stockx.com. Sneakerheads, skaters, art, streetwear, luxury. The ultimate labeled individual. Hypebeasts live by that old Quaker adage: let the notoriety and brand culture of your apparel your life speak.

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3. E-people

The counter-counter culture to the now homogenized hipster counterculture, self-proclaimed egirls and eboys were born from video app TikTok in the last couple of years, where #egirl has over half a billion views. A distant relative of the early 00’s scene style, stereotypical egirl traits include colored hair (often in pigtails), some sort of face paint or bold makeup (particularly hearts on the cheeks), a band t-shirt over a striped long-sleeved mesh or striped shirt paired with an a-line skirt. Much of her style is taken from anime/Japanese culture, goths, and skaters. The “e” phenomenon is a direct response to the meticulously curated faux-natural aesthetic of Instagram. It’s also touted as a response to sexism online, as the label “egirl” was used to refer to girls that spent too much time crafting their images.

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2. VSCO girl

If you’re a young person in 2019, you’ve heard enough about the VSCO girl. She’s been called the art hoe 2.0, basic girl 2.0, an appropriation of black and LGBT Twitter culture, a sexist judgmental labeling of young girls, you name it and someone has op-ed’ed about it. As I type at this very moment, countless think pieces about VSCO girls are being written—this summer saw the trend blow up and reach far too many people over 30. If you’re a young person in 2019, the picture below says it all. “Sksksk.”

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1. Hipster

The holy grail of this decade’s youth culture. Early-day hipsters, circa 2010, were characterized by infatuations with handlebar mustaches, bicycles, Kombucha and lensless black square glasses. Hipster culture has drastically evolved since then, and contains sub(sub?)cultures of its own now. From the wealth-infused quirkiness of the VSCO girl to the music tastes of soft grungers to the nihilist irony of the hypebeast, hipster DNA can be found in every subculture that followed it—all united by a general love of Polaroids, vinyls and all things alternative. Fueled by their opposition to the “mainstream” and obsession with “knowing x before it was cool,” hipsters thrived on irony. But the real irony comes from the fact that this vehemently positioned “counter-culture” has become the #1 most recognizable of them all. An aesthetic repackaged and commercialized like no other to appeal to the (mostly white, young, urban, professional) people that poured endless funds into perfectly fitting the image, hipsters dominated the cultural sphere of the 2010’s.

In conclusion: trends are big! Over-analyzing them can be fun! But let people enjoy things!


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