Browse all

What is the e-boy aesthetic?

Analysis of the first youth subculture of the new 1920s

What is the e-boy aesthetic? Analysis of the first youth subculture of the new 1920s
@whotrynakillme
Celine SS21
Celine SS21
Celine SS21
Celine SS21
Celine SS21
Celine SS21
Celine SS21
Celine SS21
Celine SS21
Celine SS21
Noen Eubanks by Steven Meisel
Gauge Burek in VMAN Magazine
Gauge Burek in VMAN Magazine
Chase Hudson in Vogue
Chase Hudson in Vogue
Noen Eubanks for Celine (2019)
Celine SS21
Celine SS21
Celine SS21
@shane.emmerson
@satanroman
@samuelarnewid
@ryanpink.v2
@notnoen
@nic.kauffmann
@mxtt.hxight
@milessdespair
@milessdespair
@lilhuddy
@kaleborchard
@heir.of.atticus
@heir.of.atticus
@hampislife
Celine SS21
Celine SS21

TikTok is the cult-like phenomenon of Gen Z. The latest statistics speak of about 500 million active users in the last year, most of whom are members of Gen Z. In a very short time TikTok became the territory of the new generations, developing around it an entire culture made up of viral challenges, songs with explosive fame and infamous dances. Not only that: as Instagram was, in its day, the breeding ground of hipster aesthetics, normcore and streetwear in all its branches, Tik Tok gave life to the e-boy aesthetic, which is not too daring to define as the first, true youth subculture of the new '20s. Like all subcultures before her, the e-boys have well-defined aesthetic traits that are partly the result of unmistakable Asian influences, which come from souls through K-Pop;  partly the result of a nostalgia towards the 90s, punk, goth and grunge and partly the result of its own times, with its androgynous tension and the constant irony of its contents.

@noeneubanks

happy weekend everyone

wespn instrumental - blaisezabinis

The e-boy uniform is a cross-cultural hybrid of skate culture, hip-hop, anime and goth. The hair is invariably flayed and thick, often dyed with ringing colors and even more often bipartite with a line in the middle in a floppy haircut that Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys made famous. There is also, in some cases, goth-inspired eyeliner and black-painted nails at worst, courtesy of Kurt Cobain. Of paramount importance are the accessories: ubiquitous the necklace with lock, staple of the DIY aesthetic, which has already arrived in fashion with Slimane and Matthew Willams; a series of necklaces, nurse brooches and silver chains always present in large numbers around the neck, occasional but very common pearl chokers, rings both to the fingers and nose and ears and single pendants with crosses or other figures that always maintain the chrome/silver appearance and finally the belts, always black and in evidence even if variable in shape, to which numerous chains are hung.

@heir.of.atticus
@heir.of.atticus
@hampislife
@kaleborchard
@lilhuddy
@milessdespair
@notnoen
@nic.kauffmann
@mxtt.hxight
@milessdespair
@ryanpink.v2
@samuelarnewid
@satanroman
@shane.emmerson
@whotrynakillme

The clothes, on the other hand, vary a lot but have in common the element of layering: one of the most common traits is the overlapping of an oversized t-shirt with graphics with an esoteric or metal flavor to a long-sleeved shirt, especially if with black and white stripes; often the combination consists of a crewneck sweatshirt from which the white collar of a shirt comes out, in other cases there is no shortage of simple hoodies or flannel shirts inspired by grunge, but always accompanied by graphic t-shirts and accessories, jewelry and make-up. The trousers are perhaps the most variable aspect: they tend to dark, sometimes cut above the ankle, sometimes baggy or with pinces, in the most basic cases still faithful to the tear on the knee, in many other cases they follow the more graphic side of streetwear. The socks of invariable white sponge and, finally, the shoes. If streetwear had elevated sneakers to cult object, e-boys don't go so thin: Doc Martens and Vans Old Skool are the way to go, the alternative is leather derbies or boots – all black in color.

@lilhuddy

THE DANCING KID @celine ##THEDANCINGKID ##CELINEHOMME ##CELINEXLILHUDDY

TIAGZ THEY CALL ME TIAGO EXTENDED CELINE EDIT - CELINE

The most interesting trait of this aesthetic, after all, remains its eclecticism, the ability to be multicultural and cross-sectoral at the same time. In the past, belonging to a subculture meant voting for a precise and determined style (think emo, goth or punk) while for the culture of e-boys there are no compartments: being raised at the time of moodboards and social media flattens temporal and cultural distances and makes the traits of all the subcultures of the elements to be taken and varied subjectively , favoring a hybridization of styles that were once diametrically opposed. Despite the various inspirations from the world of punk and k-pop, in fact, the music that animates the videos of the e-boys is invariably hip-hop, as inspired by hip-hop jargon are their short verbal manifestations (the issue of diversity within this culture, which appears to be predominantly white, would deserve a separate article) but the clothes and aesthetics of the e-boys themselves are not a reflection of the music they listen to, the same vintage viral hits, such as Fleetwood Mac's Dreams, which recently rose again to popularity, exist more as unbundled sounds than as cultural products anchored to an era and culture.

Noen Eubanks for Celine (2019)
Noen Eubanks by Steven Meisel
Chase Hudson in Vogue
Chase Hudson in Vogue
Gauge Burek in VMAN Magazine
Gauge Burek in VMAN Magazine

Another central issue is the relationship of this subculture with fashion. Although between last year and 2020 some creators slowly infiltrated the pages of magazines following the guiding light of Noen Eubanks and his campaign for Celine. In the rest of the cases, therefore excluding the most famous creators and able to monetize their fame, the relationship of e-boys with fashion remains unclear. This distance can be motivated by three general reasons: the first is that theirs is a DYI aesthetic, mostly as far from the discourse of luxury as it was, in the 90s, the world of skateboarding; the second is a demographic reason, that is, it concerns an age group that possesses neither the passion, nor the culture nor the purchasing power necessary for the attendance of the world of luxury; the third reason concerns the medium itself, that is, the videos of TikTok, in which the central role is played more often by the physical beauty of the protagonists than by the outfits themselves, and which often consist of a tank and joggers.

Celine SS21
Celine SS21
Celine SS21
Celine SS21
Celine SS21
Celine SS21
Celine SS21
Celine SS21
Celine SS21
Celine SS21
Celine SS21
Celine SS21
Celine SS21
Celine SS21
Celine SS21

It is perhaps rather fashion that wants to have a relationship with the e-boys, considering how Hedi Slimane joined TikTok on the occasion of the campaign with Eubanks and ended up structuring Celine's entire SS21 collection around the concept of The Dancing Kid – that is, the e-boy busy dancing in his room during the lockdown. And indeed, as they said, some e-boys have become similar to influencers: Chase Hudson, who is a social media star halfway between e-boys, stylists and influencers, ended up in Vogue in a total Celine look; Noen Eubanks, after the shooting with Slimane, was immortalized by Steven Meisel for the cover of The Face; the TikTok star Heir of Atticus, the real name of Gauge Burek, has started an entire service, also in full Celine, for VMAN. The balance between the "old" fashion world and TikTok's new influencers, however, has not yet been achieved – the very nature of subculture presupposes a distance, at least partial from the mainstream. This is also why Celine's SS21 collection has been so controversial: if the e-boy outfit has reason to be in TikTok videos, its charm remains for now a little lost in translation in the transition to fashion. That doesn't mean designers will stop trying - big fashion brands have been trying for years to decipher the formula of success on TikTok and the door seems to be about to open.