The Mass-Production Of Steampunk

Posted on January 23, 2013


dr j and m h

In a new report released from IBM earlier this week based on social trends, it is predicted that steampunk will be one of the next big fashion trends of 2013. If you’re not familiar with steampunk, it first originated in literature as a sub-genre of science fiction writing. Steampunk fiction typically involves the use of steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology and is inspired by industrialised Western civilisation during the 19th century. Usually this means that steampunk is used as a means of conveying an alternative 19th century history through, perhaps, fantasy or a post apocalyptic setting. Steampunk is most likely to be found in fiction based around the British Victorian or American “Wild West” eras.

Steampunk draws its influences from authors such as Mary Shelly and H. G. Wells, who are both well-known for their contributions to science-fiction writing. And for Wells in particular who envisioned “atomic bombs” in The World Set Free (1914), genetic engineering in The Island of Dr Moreau (1896) and lasers in The War of the Worlds (1898), many of his predictions have become a reality.

In recent years the popularity of steampunk has increased. The number of search terms and discussions for this sub-genre are found to have increased recently, suggesting that steampunk is gradually creeping into mainstream culture. We can already see the influence of steampunk through our impressions of art, culture and clothing styles from the era.

In terms of fashion, the steampunk trend generally involves the wearing of clothes typically associated with the Victorian era, which might include pocket watches, top hats and corsets. In a press release from IBM the company describe steampunk as “a sub-genre inspired by the clothing, technology and social mores of Victorian society”.

The prediction from IBM comes from research based on social networking sites and public forums. The information is based on half a million public posts on gaming sites, forums and social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. The company has also revealed that the main site used for discussing steampunk is Twitter – which was found to have six times more steampunk chat than Facebook.

According to the findings from IBM, the trend described as a “mash-up of 19th century industrialised looks and Victorian flourishes” is set to take the retail world by storm. But can we base the next big fashion trend entirely from online discussions? Well, the trend was already visible at Paris Fashion Week 2012 and based on the reports the trend will be found on the runways this year too.

So will you make like Helena Bonham Carter and grab the next corset that comes your way? Or if there are any people out there who already wear this fashion, do you feel annoyed that yet another fashion trend will more than likely end up mass-produced and on the shelves of Primark faster than you can say “individual”?

Posted in: Art and Culture