Cybergoth is a subculture that derives from elements of cyberpunk, goth, raver, and rivethead fashion. Unlike traditional goths, Cybergoths follow electronic dance music more often than rock.
While the term ‘Cybergoth’ was coined in 1988 in the United Kingdom, by Games Workshop, for their roleplaying game Dark Future, the fashion style did not emerge until a decade later. Valerie Steele quotes Julia Borden, who defines cybergoth as combining elements of industrial aesthetics with a style associated with “Gravers” (Gothic ravers). Gravers hybridized “the British Raver look and the NYC ClubKid look with a ‘freak show’ spin.” This fusion between New York and London styles began in 1999. Borden indicates that initially the hair extensions and bright fishnets did not mesh well with goth fashion, but that by 2002 “the rave elements of dress were replaced by Industrial-influenced accessories, such as goggles, reflective clothing, and mostly black clothing.” Steele summarizes:
“Today cyber goths tend to wear primarily black clothing with hints of neon colors, as well as clothing made of reflective materials and PVC, and huge platform boots. Their hair extensions or falls often incorporate a bright color and multiple piercings are typical. Goggles are often worn. Some cyber goths also wear gas masks or (in what appears to be a kind of medical fetish) shiny PVC doctors’ masks.”
Nancy Kilpatrick indicates that David Bowie’s look in the 1970s is the initial inspiration for the style, and that Fritz Lang’s Metropolis provided the prototype for cyber aesthetics. Kilpatrick also notes a link to cyberpunk science fiction, particularly William Gibson’s Neuromancer.
Cybergoth fashion combines rave, rivethead, and goth fashion, as well as drawing inspiration from cyberpunk and other forms of science fiction. Androgyny is common. The style sometimes features one starkly contrasting bright or neon-reactive theme colour, such as red, blue, neon green, chrome, or pink, set against a basic, black gothic outfit. Matte or glossy black materials such as rubber and shiny black PVC can be mixed and matched in an effort to create a more artificial look.
The black-and-monochromatic juxtaposition can take a variety of forms, including brightly colored hair, artificial make-up, cybernetic patterns such as live LEDcircuit boards, body modification, gas masks and goggles (especially aviator-style), typically worn on the forehead or around the neck rather than on the eyes.The most common use of a theme color is in the hair or eye make-up. Artificial, extended hair or “falls” are sometimes used to create this added effect. Falls can be made of various materials, ranging from yarn to fluorescent tubing to electrical wiring.
Popular club gear for cybergoths includes tight black pants, tight black vests or shirts cut from ripped, solid or fishnet fabrics, resembling costumes from 19th Century Gothic novels or early black and white horror films from the mid-20th century. Companies that specialize in the style include Cyberdog and DANE in London, Lip Service, based in Southern California, and Diabolik, a shop in Montreal and Robotic Kitty Fashions in Chicago.