From Witchcore Aesthetic to Light Academia; The Weird And Wonderful World Of Contemporary Self Branding


Crystsalcore, literally.

Witchcore Aesthetic, Crystalcore Aesthetic, Light Academia, Dark Academia, you might be wondering what the hell I’m talking about. Well, until yesterday I would have no idea what any of this meant either. That is until I was digging around on Exploding Topics, one of my favorite tools for staying connected to whatever new trends are boiling up, and I stumbled upon Witchcore Aesthetic, which propelled me down and through the strange labyrinth of Aesthetics. Aesthetics are a relatively new form of online fashion and personal branding genres that encompass a wide world of beliefs, customs and preferences. The level of detail in determining wether you are Cabincore or Cottagecore, to my mind, is unrivaled in human history and the reason I am writing about this today. In the time of hyper connectivity and endlessly free information, pinpointing your exact personal brand has endless possibilities.

The Days Of Yore

When I was in high school I read books about art, had a few pet snakes and listened to punk rock. Way back in the 1900s this was colloquially known as being a “weirdo.” In the exponential acceleration of the 21st century, I now know that I would most likely be labeled as, Dark Academia. Who knew!? 25 years later through the powerful use of internet hashtags, I have finally found my people.

The world I navigated in high school was in comparison a broadly brushed, murky social experience where we all roved around our towns in conglomerated factions of friends with vaguely similar interests. For example, I had some friends that were ska kids. Now, I never liked ska. To me it sounded very goofy and the clothes ska kids wore made them look like cartoon characters. Not to knock my friends. They were and still are great people. Just different tastes in music, at least at that time. In my 20s I was turned onto Lee “Scratch” Perry and Dub Reggae. Immediately I connected with Dub and its a genre I still love to this day. Becoming familiar with what I loved in Dub Reggae, I’m now able to appreciate some 1st and 2nd wave ska like the Specials etc. Similar genres of music, but to my untrained ear, totally different. 

Back then I had no bridge into other forms of Reggae. All I knew about was ska. Even worse, 90s ska being played by a bunch of lunkheads from Boston. That was the whole picture for me because the information I needed to fill the gaps in my knowledge was hidden from me. Tucked away in the dusty bins of my local record store. Waiting for me to either somehow find them, or remain ignorant forever.

You’ve always been Goblincore

“The greater the diversity, the greater the perfection.” Thomas Berry

Now, with the use of social media, we have the ability to pinpoint our personal style and tastes into such exact and distinct micro-cultures we can express ourselves exactly the way we want to. Gone are the days of only seeing half the picture of whatever genre or brand that you’re experiencing. You like farm animals, baking, and identify with vaguely anti-capitalist sentiment? You might be Cottagecore. Say what? You like mushrooms, moss, frogs and candles? Do you get a little twinkle in your eye when you think about shiny jewels and crystals? Well my friend, you’re Goblincore. Maybe you always have been and you were simply unaware. Now you know!

The Humanity Of Our Authenticity In Branding

In some circles the term “Branding” is a dirty word. Its become synonymous with the vapidity of online influencer culture which I agree can be horrific at times. But the truth of the matter is we are all branding ourselves almost constantly. From the funny stories your family tells about you as kid when you bring a new friend around, to the new clothes and philosophies you pick up each day as you negotiate the channels of your life. 

All these things, over your lifetime, continue to pile onto each other and assemble the identity the world around you recognizes as YOU. A singular brand. A one in one trillion unique entity that has no exact equal in existence. This is the reality of the human experience. We are all unfathomably and beautifully alone in this world. 

Because of these deep and nuanced intricacies that make up each one of our unique personal identities, we are able as a society to continue to divide and sub divide our culture into these hyper focused genres of personal brands. To say it fascinates me is an understatement. I find the anthropological undertones of the entire Aesthetic world incredibly beautiful. For me as an artist already focused on branding, it has made the most compelling case yet for the deep human need to set yourself apart from the herd by finding your brand and expressing it to the world.

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