Health Goth is a style or subculture that originated in 2013 and is characterized by a combination of athletic wear, gothic fashion, and minimalism. The style is influenced by the growing interest in health and fitness, as well as the prevalence of technology and the internet in modern society.
Health goth derives directly from "street goth" and centers around the concepts of transhumanism, technical sportswear, bionic body parts, and physical and mental health. It draws inspiration from Net art and combat gear. Creators of health goth use keywords such as mesh, moisture-wicking fabrics, BioWare, prosthetics, and tactical gear when sourcing imagery. Another variation of health goth combines the goth aesthetic with a sporty look and places a greater emphasis on fitness.
(Important note: This type of goth has no relation with the original gothic subculture other than its related visual aesthetic)
The origins of "Health Goth" can be traced back to Portland artists Mike Grabarek and Jeremy Scott (also known as Magic Fades), along with artist Chris Cantino, who founded the original Health Goth Facebook community in 2013. According to them, the term was coined to describe a feeling that already existed, influenced by brands such as HOODBYAIR, Cottweiler, Whatever 21, and A D Y N, and an aesthetic that combined trans-humanism, Net art, technical sportswear, bionic body parts, combat gear, and an emphasis on physical and mental health. They also draw inspiration from other online movements and aesthetics, including 3D rendered images and futuristic designs.
Meanwhile, the fitness-oriented variation of Health Goth was started by Johnny "Deathface" Love, a personal trainer based in Los Angeles. This variation has gained attention from several mainstream news outlets such as Huffington Post, the New York Times, Complex, BuzzFeed, Cosmopolitan, Style.com, and the Guardian.
According to Grabarek, Cantino, and Scott, Health Goth is inspired by their history of net art obsession and fascination with the rise of transhumanism. They aim to create art that references evolution and connects it to subcultures, such as bio-enhancement technology and anti-aging medication, and how they contribute to the concept of "pursuing perfection." They embrace futuristic fantasies, but also acknowledge their own fears and doubts. By blurring the lines between transcendental and taboo concepts, they aim to provoke discussion. They identify themselves as followers of the transhumanist movement and reject retro-fetishism, preferring the unconventional and uncomfortable.
AMDSCS was the first to blog about Health Goth, interpreting it as "an anti-nostalgic dystopian present, refracting the other by means of an exaggerated profile and tribal-aesthetics." According to the blog, Health Goth represented a subjugation of the individual in the urban ecosystem and a hyper-masculine aesthetic that concealed a cyborgian humanity within. This interpretation went viral and gained the attention of numerous publications, including Vice, Huffington Post, Globe and Mail, The Guardian, i-D, Marie Claire, Esquire, Fader, Vogue, Complex, Nylon, GQ, and The New York Times (which was criticized by Grabarek, Cantino, and Scott). In 2014, Health Goth was the second most Googled fashion trend, following Normcore.
Adam Harper's article for The Fader provided an in-depth analysis of health goth, deconstructing the trend. According to the article, health goth was a symbol of a post-genre world where aesthetics were at the forefront of subcultural and microgenre movements that were increasingly unique and amalgamated. The creators of health goth, in an interview with Complex, shared this view, stating that it was not a lifestyle but rather an exercise in aesthetics. They rejected the idea of prescribing specific lifestyle guidelines and instead encouraged individuals to choose which elements they found appealing.