You may be familiar with ‘cottagecore’, the style trend that became popularized during the beginnings of the pandemic due to its highly romanticized, back-to-rural-life aesthetic. However, in spite of how lovely, cozy and cute this trend is perceived as, there has always been a perduring artificiality to it. It is true that we try to romanticize all that appears pretty, clean, and simple, oftentimes clinging to it too much as magic potion for happiness. Often receiving criticism for setting unrealistic and unattainable standards, it is no wonder that cottagecore’s hype died down fast. Thus entered goblincore, the ‘dark’ side of cottagecore. Also referred to as gremlincore, dirtcore, crowcore, feralcore and cottagegoth, this niche trend embraces all that is imperfect. The term ‘goblin’ references the monstrous fantasy creatures originating in European folklore, the antithesis of fairies and all that is aesthetically pleasing. Goblincore celebrates the ‘ugly’ side of nature, that which we don’t always stop to appreciate.
Urban Dictionary defines goblincore as “an aesthetic which seems to have originated on Tumblr, as a twist on ‘dragoncore’. While both dragoncore and goblincore seem to focus on collections (or hoards), goblincore leans into the grimier, grittier, and just more generally cluttered look. Goblincore celebrates not just flawless gems, dazzling metals, and meticulously kept treasuries, but also damaged coins, cool rocks, bits of scrap metal, maybe even beads, bugs, and buttons’; ‘If you have a disordered, unlabeled collection of rocks, shells, buttons, or trinkets (or all the above), goblincore might be the aesthetic for you. Some call it hoarding, but we call it ‘collecting’.“
Goblincore was highly popularized by TikTok user Parker (@froggiecrocs), whose account channels the damper, earthier and mossier sides of nature reminiscent of David Bowie’s 1986 Labrynth. According to The Guardian, ‘the hashtag has more than 498m views on TikTok and is a rising trend on Pinterest in the UK. On Reddit, the r/goblincore subreddit’s 19,000-strong membership has increased its subscribers by 395% year-on-year (…) on Etsy, there has been a 652% increase in searches for related items in the last month compared with the same time last year.’
What we love about goblincore and the main source of its appeal is its accessibility. Filled with autumnal greens, browns and generally earthy tones, goblincore clothing prides itself on being second-hand and thus sustainable. It is comfortable, cozy and gender neutral. Oversized sweaters, mountain boots, handmade jewellery made from skulls and bones – it reminds us of dark forests, witchcraft, and secret potions straight out from our favorite fantasy novels. As well as this, the elements that goblincore aestheticizes, such as fungi, frogs and toads, slugs, trolls – have found a home within the non-binary community. Fungi are known to have thousands of different sexes, and this inclusivity has become the feature that has been most praised by its enthusiasts.
In essence, goblincore is about ‘letting oneself exist’. While traditionally, the concept of self-care has been linked to lush baths, spa days and pedicures, goblincore tries to channel our most basic instincts for happiness – spending time with the traditionally unattractive side of nature, and finding peace and beauty within it. There is appeal in goblincore for everyone, if we are willing to find the time for it.