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What is Darkwear?


Darkwear is a distinctive fashion trend that merges elements of streetwear and techwear, predominantly featuring dark colors and practical designs. It encompasses several sub-genres, including gothic fashion, futuristic style and military-inspired clothing, offering a blend of mysterious aesthetics and functionality.

Darkwear is all about shadows.

Darkwear aficionados often joke that their wardrobes are filled with so many shades of black that they could give a color wheel an identity crisis 😂.

Its philosophy could be summed up as 'Ninja meets Fashionista' – where every garment is a cloak of mystery with a dash of runway elegance. 

But what exactly is Darkwear?

How is it different from Techwear, Warcore and other streetwear subgenres that are popping off yearly?

How can you start your journey in this exciting, intriguing fashion realm in 2024?

Buckle up your shadowy seatbelts and accompany us on this comprehensive exploration through the shadowy corridors of the darkwear world, where every turn is a fashion statement.

Key Takeaways on Darkwear Fashion

  • The Darkwear aesthetic combines elements of technical clothing, military equipment and alternative fashion.

  • Essential pieces for the look include black clothing, leather accessories, tonal looks, and textured layers with gothic elements.

  • Darkwear is a fashion sub genre that has become popular in pop culture and offers practicality & functionality for everyday wear.

The Essence of Darkwear Aesthetics

darkwear man and womancredit: @cata.leyah @dexndrenosoul

The Darkwear style is characterized by its predominant use of dark colors and dark gray materials. It combines elements of dark streetwear and techwear to create a rad outfit. Here are some critical pieces:

  • Cargo Pants

  • Tactical Vests, Belts and Gloves

  • Chest Rigs

  • Cargo Jackets

  • Goth Hoodies

  • Ammo Sling Bags

  • Combat Boots

  • Hats (bucket hats and berets) and Masks

  • Chains

  • (Dummy) Weapons

By incorporating these items into your wardrobe, you can create a mysterious and edgy look that showcases your individuality and adds a touch of sophistication. You'll look like a modern ninja ready to conquer the streets with style.

Wondering where the darkwear aesthetic originated? Let’s trace its roots.

Darkwear's Roots

The history of Darkwear is intriguing, with its roots deeply embedded in the early gothic subculture. This fashion trend is a melting pot of various styles, including:

  • The Neo-gothic and Romantic era of the late 18th century

  • The Gothic fashion that started in the late 1990s in Harajuku, Japan

  • The functionality and innovation of Japanese techwear 🥷

The dark, mysterious, and often genderless features have attracted young people from diverse subcultures.

Here are some renowned figures in the darkwear subculture, namely:

  • Alexander McQueen

  • Boris Bidjan Saberi

  • Rick Owens

  • Yohji Yamamoto

  • Gareth Pugh

Darkwear has also been influenced by popular music genres, connecting with the dark wave and industrial tunes that resonate with its aesthetics (like SCARLXRD Metal Rap, for example).

Key Characteristics of Darkwear Clothing

Darkwear clothing takes techwear styling to the next level by incorporating bolder tactical military elements and creating the look of a battle-ready city warrior ⚔️. The dark and mysterious vibe of this fashion trend is achieved through several key elements.

First and foremost, darkwear often features a monochrome palette of black, grey, and white. The use of leather, nylon, and other dark-colored materials, as well as spikes, chains, and metal hardware, further reinforces the mysterious allure of this style. Additionally, the blend of futuristic style with practical designs creates a sleek and luxurious aesthetic that sets darkwear apart from other trends.

Building Your Darkwear Wardrobe

man wearing darkwear clothing in the streetcredit: d010930000

Ready to embrace the dark side and assemble your darkwear wardrobe? We’re here to help! This guide will walk you through the quintessential pieces, layering methods, and accessories that will empower you to curate the ultimate darkwear-inspired wardrobe.

Keep in mind that when building your darkwear wardrobe, the focus should be on clothes such as:

  • Black pants

  • Sweaters

  • Boots

  • Coats

  • Materials with ergonomic designs that can handle various weather conditions

Darkwear jackets often emphasize the dark color scheme and oversized cape/coat designs. We’ll now explore more about the key components of a darkwear wardrobe.

Darkwear pants are essential for safely and comfortably carrying tactical gear while adding texture to your look.

To commence your darkwear collection, seek versatile waterproof and breathable clothes that are not only stylish but also functional. Start by looking out for:

  • Black pants or trousers

  • Black leather accessories

  • All-black outfits or tonal looks

  • Contemporary graphic designs with black as the main color

Textured layers are crucial in a darkwear wardrobe, adding depth, interest, and visual appeal to your outfit. Mix different textures and fabrics like velvet, satin, lace, or mesh to create a multi-dimensional look that captures the darkwear fashion vibe. Don’t forget to include essential grunge and gothic elements such as hoodies, graphic tees, black pants, skirts, and dresses, fishnets, chains, zippers, crosses and crucifixes.

Layering Techniques

Layering is an essential skill in darkwear fashion, as it adds depth and interest to your look while also providing temperature control based on the weather and your activities. Start by mixing different textures and fabrics to add some depth and interest to your darkwear outfit.

Experiment with layering darkwear clothing for different seasons by following these steps:

  1. Start with a base layer in a lightweight, breathable fabric for warmer weather and a thicker fabric for colder temperatures.

  2. Add a middle layer for insulation and adjust as needed.

  3. Top it off with an outer layer for protection from the elements.

  4. Accessorize with dark-colored accessories.

  5. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different combos to find what works best for you.

Accessorizing with Darkwear

To finish off your darkwear look, you’ll need some rad accessories like:

  • Hats

  • Scarves

  • Gloves

  • Jewelry

When choosing darkwear jewelry, consider the color scheme of your outfit and select pieces that complement your skin tone and overall aesthetic.

If you want to add patches to your darkwear, here are some tips:

  1. Find a design or motif you like and apply it to your clothing.

  2. Custom embroidered patches are a great way to add a personal touch and style to your darkwear wardrobe.

  3. For a more edgy look, add black patches or wear black jewelry like chokers or leather cuffs.

  4. Don’t forget to explore the world of masks, where you’ll find techwear masks made of synthetic materials like polyester, nylon, and elastane, or artisanal face mask covers that fit the look of darkwear, streetwear, cyberpunk, or cosplay.

Exploring Subgenres of Darkwear Style

military darkwear stylecredit: @cata_leyah @ninja_vi

Darkwear is a vast and diverse fashion trend that encompasses various subgenres, each with its unique aesthetics and characteristics. Let’s explore three popular subgenres of darkwear: Gothic Darkwear, Futuristic Darkwear, and Military-Inspired Darkwear. Understanding these subgenres will help you appreciate the richness and variety of darkwear fashion and expand your style horizons.

Gothic Darkwear

Gothic Darkwear is a subgenre that began in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. It's dark, mysterious and often vintage. Middle-age and Victorian Period literature, music, and subcultures inspire this style. It focuses on:

  • Black clothing

  • Corsets

  • Lace

  • Leather

  • Accessories like chokers and boots

Futuristic Darkwear

Futuristic Darkwear is another intriguing subgenre of darkwear that features a futuristic aesthetic, combining tech, advanced materials, and sleek designs to create an edgy and dystopian vibe. This subgenre stands out from other darkwear styles due to its focus on the futuristic, high-tech look.

Futuristic darkwear incorporates iconic elements such as:

  • neon

  • chrome

  • asymmetry

  • metallic clothing

  • a mix of utility and aesthetics

This subgenre is heavily influenced by cyberpunk culture, which adds to its dystopian and futuristic appeal.

Military-Inspired Darkwear

Lastly, we have Military-Inspired Darkwear, a style of darkwear that takes tactical elements and rugged designs from military and workwear apparel and combines them with an emphasis on utility and practicality. This subgenre usually features:

  • a darker color palette, such as black, gray, and olive green

  • elements from military uniforms like camo patterns

  • utility pockets

  • tougher materials

The key to mastering Military-Inspired Darkwear is balancing edginess and sophistication while incorporating practical features like reinforced stitching, adjustable straps, and durable materials. This subgenre is perfect for those who want to add a utilitarian and tactical touch to their darkwear wardrobe.

Top Darkwear Brands to Discover

darkwear brand mxdvscredit: @MXDVS

Having acquainted yourself with the various subgenres of Darkwear style, the next step is to discover top darkwear brands that will help elevate your wardrobe. Here are some top darkwear brands to consider:

  • Off-Wrld

  • Rick Owens

  • Yohji Yamamoto

  • MDNT45

There’s a world of darkwear fashion waiting for you to discover.

Influential designers such as:

  • Alexander McQueen

  • Boris Bidjan Saberi

  • Maison Margiela

  • Damir Doma

  • Virgil Abloh

have left their mark on the darkwear fashion industry and continue to inspire new styles and trends. Whether looking for high-end luxury or edgy streetwear, these top darkwear brands offer various options to suit your style and preferences.

Darkwear attire for Men and Women

darkwear fashion man and womancredit: @d010930000 @cata_leyah

The unisex nature of darkwear is one of its most attractive facets. With gender-neutral designs, silhouettes, and color palettes, darkwear is an inclusive fashion trend that can be adapted for both men and women. The sleek and minimalist aesthetic, along with high-tech materials and futuristic designs, make darkwear accessible and attractive to all genders.

For women, darkwear offers edgy, dark, and alternative vibes, with elements like black, gray, deep jewel tones, leather, studs, chains, and distressed details. Men can enjoy a range of stylish darkwear pieces. These include leather jackets, trench coats, skinny jeans, boots, hats and sunglasses. The versatility of darkwear allows everyone to express their individuality and rock a darker aesthetic, regardless of gender.

Practicality and Functionality in Darkwear

functional darkwear garments

Darkwear’s appeal is not limited to aesthetics, but also extends to its practicality. The use of durable materials like leather and denim, along with weather-resistant fabrics, make darkwear perfect for everyday use. Moreover, darkwear often features:

  • Waterproofing

  • Breathability

  • Lightweight and durable fabrics

  • Pockets, straps, and zippers

These features make dark-colored materials the more practical and convenient for those who prefer darkwear.

Darkwear is adaptable for different climates and settings, making it suitable for outdoor activities and urban environments alike. The inspiration from clothing worn in outdoor activities like hiking and mountaineering, as well as military and industrial uniforms, give darkwear pants their cool, edgy vibe while maintaining the principles of functionality and versatility.

Darkwear vs. Techwear: A Comparison

darkwear vs techwear

At first glance, darkwear and techwear might appear similar, but they bear distinct differences. While darkwear focuses more on gothic, futuristic, and military-inspired fashion, techwear is all about comfort and practicality, designed to be versatile and functional.

Darkwear usually features a dark color palette and cool designs, while techwear often has a grey or black color palette and military-inspired designs. Furthermore, techwear is known for its practical features like durability, stretchiness, waterproofing, and windproofing, which may not always be present in darkwear.

When deciding between darkwear and techwear, it ultimately comes down to your personal preference, the occasion, your look, and what you’re after.

Darkwear in Pop Culture and Media

darkwear clothing culture

The influence of darkwear in pop culture and media is unmistakable. From movies like Taxi Driver and Blade Runner 2049 to TV shows such as “Young Justice” and “Dark,” darkwear has made its mark on the screen. Its connection to alternative music, such as gothic rock, dark wave, and industrial music, further cements its presence in popular culture.

The media has also taken notice of darkwear, with various outlets showcasing:

  • gothic fashion

  • dark culture

  • cyberpunk fashion

  • TV shows celebrating black fashion

The growing popularity of darkwear in pop culture and media demonstrates its ability to captivate audiences and inspire new fashion trends.

If you'd like to start your Darkwear adventure and join a close-knit, caring community, look at the dedicated Reddit :).

reddit darkwear


Darkwear is a fascinating and versatile fashion trend that offers a unique blend of mysterious aesthetics, practical functionality, and diverse subgenres. From its origins in gothic subcultures to its presence in pop culture and media, darkwear continues to evolve and captivate fashion enthusiasts worldwide. So, are you ready to embrace the dark side and express your individuality through this enigmatic style?

Warcore FAQ

What is the difference between darkwear and techwear?

Techwear is inspired by outdoor, military and industrial clothing, while Darkwear focuses on a dark and edgy aesthetic. These two styles share many aesthetic similarities but are indistinguishable in terms of meaning, technology, and texture.

Is darkwear goth?

Darkwear is associated with the goth subculture and typically features elements such as leather, denim, and black clothing. So yes, darkwear can be considered goth.

What is the techwear aesthetic?

Techwear aesthetic is a fashion movement that blends functionality with comfort and style, and draws on military-inspired utilitarianism for its roots. Its focus is unrestricted movement, breathability, and water resistance.

What is the difference between streetwear and techwear?

Techwear is characterized by its use of advanced materials and technology for enhanced functionality, while streetwear has its roots in skate and hip-hop culture and features a more casual, comfortable style.

What is the main color palette for darkwear?

For darkwear, the most commonly seen colors are black, grey and white for a classic, monochrome look.

How do I get into Darkwear?

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