Having been interested in fashion for some time, I came across dystopian fashion. It wasn’t clear what their influences are, and how the look is put together. So, I did some research into what it is and put together this helpful article to explain what dystopian fashion is.
So, what is dystopian fashion? Dystopian fashion is the opposite of utopian fashion. The utopian idea is that the world is a Utopia and perfect. Dystopian fashion reflects ideas found in books like George Orwell’s 1984. Where people have very few rights and are slaves to a tyrannical government.
The look can have different styles depending on individual expression and the setting of the fictional future world. The ways in which dystopian fashion is expressed vary. Below I’ve explained the different styles of dystopian fashion found in the several popular books and movies.
There are a range of garments and accessories used in dystopian or cyberpunk fashion. It has elements of industrial and workwear. Because some stories are set in a post-apocalyptic world, garments are often dirty and torn because of the lack of laundromats and fashion stores. So below, I’ll explain the different garments used for each part of the body.
Popular Dystopian styled clothing
Popular Dystopian Fashion Accessories
There are a range of movies and books which have been based in a dystopian setting. They are
The Matrix Movie
Most people will have seen this movie, so I won’t go into too much detail about the plot. But the fashion worn by the free people in Zion is an example of dystopian fashion. Clothing includes grey, black, and browncolors. Clothing is often made of wool and has wear and tear.
People also wear boots, goggles, and have weapons. In the iconic scenes from the movie the main characters wear long trench coats, boots, sunglasses, and lots of black leather. When they go to the ‘real’ world they still wear dystopian fashion.
Tron: Legacy Movie
The story of this film is set in a dystopian world where people are forced to fight to the death. This film is a bit different in that most of it is set in the battle arena. In the battle arena they wear a full body suit. The arms and legs have a thick neon line which goes from the top of the suit to the bottom.
Mad Max Movies
Mad Max is set in a post-apocalyptic world, where people are oppressed by the tyrannical Immortan Joe. There is the original starring Mel Gibson and the remake. In the original he wears all leather, black boots, and carries weapons. His leather jacket looks like a biker jacket, and he wears a thick belt which is tied over high clothing around his waist.
The villains wear bizarre clothing. They wear wigs that only cover the front of their head and the hair is gelled up so that it looks like the horn of an animal. They wear black leather shoulder pads, and belts that look like boxing or mma belts. For their lower body they wear black pants black knee-high boots. They have shields which cover their forearms and elbows.
Water world is set in a future where most of the world has been submerged in water. The world is also mostly desert and there are very few supplies. As a result, much of their fashion is old, torn and dirty. The main character Kevin Costner wears a patchwork vest. It is made from sewn together pieces of leather. It has no sleeves and can’t be buttoned or zipped up.
He wears leather gloves that cover half of his forearms and then hands, except for the fingers. He has a thick braided leather bracelet which he wears on his upper arm. His pants are old and torn with a belt. He also wears a thicker belt to hold up his knife.
The Hunger Games
In the hunger games ordinary people wear bland clothing that doesn’t stand out in any way. They use grey, brown, and subduedcolors. The main characters wear weapons because they must survive the hunger games. The leaders of the people who organise the hunger games wear outlandish outfits.
They have pastel colours, and elaborate hats. The people in charge all look similar, however, because of their use of color. They often wear long coats, and dress shirts. They also wear strange makeup and have unusual facial hair.
The Equilibrium Movie
The movie Equilibrium stars Christian Bale who is famous for his role in Batman. The idea was that in the future there will be a dystopian society. In the movie normal people wear a uniform that is grey and plain looking.
The premise of the story is that people are suppressed from feeling emotions using a daily injection. They are reminded to take their injection otherwise there will be dire consequences.
The tyrannical government also bans bright colors. This is because they cause emotions. Emotions are undesirable because they can lead to a revolution. Therefore, all their clothing must not include bright colors, or interesting features.
Dystopian fashion appears messy and dirty in some depictions but can look nice and well put together in others. This is because of the setting in which the characters are placed.
There is abundant technology and gadgets in some but in others people have next to nothing and are on the border of starvation. There are also some industrial and workwear influences.
Therefore, the dystopian fashion has a range of looks. It is dependent on the circumstances surrounding the creation of the fictional world which the authors and writers create.