Aesthetic Detective: Goblincore

Jenessa Williams 17 March 2022

Every month, Jenessa Williams unravels the aesthetics trends emerging on social media and advises on how you can embrace them for yourself. This time, it’s the turn of Goblincore, the earthy trend igniting TikTok.

Where does the Goblincore trend come from?

Goblincore lookbook

Outfit 1: The PalmTree Art Bracelet, Hollister vest, Joe Browns Belt, Karma accessories Hat,  Freck Freckle Paint, Cotsworld Hipster Bag, Next Dungarees, Silks Purse Sows Ear Earrings, Joanna Newsome "Ys" vinyl, Abercrombie top, Bohemia Design shoes

Goblincore is a rough-around-the-edges love of the outdoor aesthetic, inspired by traditional folklore. It finds beauty in things that might not always be thought of as conventionally pretty—snails and toads, mushrooms and moss, earthworms and dirt. Rising to prominence during the pandemic, Goblincore serves as a reminder to get outside and appreciate the little things, eschewing modern trappings of technology.

Through TikTok, Goblincore has also become a safe home for LGBTQIA+ and non-binary culture, perhaps inspired by the counter-cultural figures of androgyny that are often cited as inspirational texts; David Bowie in Labyrinth, various Studio Ghibli characters, Edward Cullen of Twilight. The mushroom, a species of fungi that has thousands of sexes and just as many physical presentations, also provides a powerful metaphor for inclusion and recognition, admiring the individual for who they are.

"Goblincore serves as a reminder to get outside and appreciate the little things"

Goblincore is also thought to take some nods from the "goblin-mode" of the pandemic, where many of us lapsed into low-key modes of dress and energy, opting instead for comfort and indeed, a certain type of slobbery. Pushing back against the 24/7 hustle culture of boardrooms and millennial business, goblincore is an opportunity to challenge the conventions of success and aspiration, opting instead for what feels right for the individual.

Due to potential anti-Semitist connotations, Goblincore might more favourably be referred to as Mushroomcore, or Mosscore, but many fans have chosen to keep the original name, encouraging a return to the original magic and folklore of goblin fairy stories. Instead of adhering to damaging stereotypes of greed and hoarding, modern Goblincore fans are encouraged to give back to their community, and to draw and depict representations of goblins that do not focus on their "evil" traits so much as celebrating their curiosity and love of all things outdoors. As such, it can be thought of as movement of positivity, celebrating the rich ecosystem that makes up our world.

 

What does Goblincore look like?

Goblincore lookbook tshirt
Outfit 2:
Swedish stockings tights, Superette Skirt, Labyrinth T Shirt, Esprit Cardigan, Hippy Clothing Company Cardigan, Cambridge Baby Legwarmers, ‘The Green Witch’ book by Arin Maurphy-Hiscock, Forest Floor Shop Mittens, Depop Eskimo Boots

Described by one online fan as “cottagecore for those that actually spend time in nature”, meaning that clothing has to be practical, sturdy, and warm, layered up with the ease of somebody who doesn’t mind if nothing really matches. Earthy colours are essential—forest greens, clay reds, muddy browns, and sunbleached taupe—but they can be combined in whatever way feels best, clashing prints and textures with carefree abandon. Lots of goblincore silhouettes recall the style of 90s grunge, with maxi skirts and oversized cardigans making a statement against supermodel commercialism.

"Clothing has to be practical, sturdy, and warm"

To begin a Goblincore wardrobe, keep things simple. A long skirt, dress, or pair of loose trousers provides the base, built upon with a statement coat, hobbyist t-shirt and lots of warm knitted accessories. Goblincore is typically low-key, but it is still commonplace to keep an eye out for small trinkets or "shinies", talismans to be treasured. Should you happen upon a pleasing stone or piece of wood on your adventures, it is common to hang onto it and turn it into a piece of jewellery, or to take it home and display. Goblincore might be thought of as an aesthetic sense of cluttered cosiness, never being afraid to muddy your knees or rip a sleeve in the name of chasing a wholesome activity.

 

How can I embody Goblincore myself?

Goblincore lookbook dress
Outfit 3:
Ganni dress, Jungla shoes, Regal Rose Hair Rings, Simone Rocha Tights, ‘Over The Garden Wall’ DVD, Refy Gloss Highlighter, Mushroom Babes Pin Badge, Cheeks Slime Tint, The Physic Tree Incense, Trash Fairysden Bag

While there are ways to get a version of the Goblincore look off the rack (as illustrated in our styling suggestions), Goblincore is defined by its anti-consumerist nature, favouring the homemade and independent. Followers are much more likely to curate a wardrobe of thrifted, gifted or even found finds, but in the interests of inclusivity, anything really goes as long as it is coming from a sincere place.

Some Goblincore fans enjoy adding a little colour with cheek tint cosmetics and wet-look dewy highlighters, while others prefer to go bare faced, eschewing manicures for natural mud under the nails. Some choose to blend the dark undertones of the aesthetic with the more upmarket sense of Cottagecore, opting for high-end tea dresses and artfully bespoke accessories. Whatever your preference, do it for the right reasons—Goblincore is about being at one with the world, not about flaunting wealth.

"Goblincore is about being at one with the world, not about flaunting wealth"

In terms of inspiration, Goblincore fans often look to musical artists who sing about nature with intricacy and specificity; Cosmo Sheldrake, Ben Howard and Cavetown, as well as more fantastical alt-folk such as First Aid Kit, Joanna Newsome and Aurora. Terry Prachett’s Discworld novels are popular amongst many Goblincore readers, while Over The Garden Wall, an animated mini-series for Cartoon Network is a firm favourite, the tale of two boys encountering all manner of dark and fantastical creatures on their journey through a strange forest.

All of that said, no muse is greater than getting outdoors, learning to reclaim back the childhood whimsy of mud pies and bracken-filled dens. Paint a rock, identity a butterfly, lift your skirts to wade into a shallow river or appreciate the insects that gather along the bank—whether you’re a Goblincore aficionado or not, you might be surprised at how freeing it feels to let go.  

 

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