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From #Cottagecore to #Gothcore, what the data says about the rise of 'core' aesthetics

Gothcore and cottagecore aesthetics
MM6 Maison Margiela x Salomon / Chopova Lowena / WGSN Street Style
Nov 23, 2023

WGSN analysts take a data deep-dive into the rise of 'core' aesthetics, the beloved trends that people are talking about right now, where they began and what’s coming up next.

Gen Z’s social media influence has become a large proponent of today’s trend cycle, with the cohort having their finger on the viral trend pulse and the platform to share it.

Enter fashion 'cores' – niche aesthetics that have gained momentum across social media. In its simplest form, a fashion 'core' is the amalgamation of two features: an aesthetic and the term ‘core’. #Cottagecore, the homely trend synonymous with puff sleeves, gingham and wicker baskets, is the perfect example of this combination. While these ‘-core’ trend monikers help to package and create buzz around a trend, the fashion items and details that underpin it often have a longer history which can be tracked over time to better understand the trend’s commercial relevance.

Fashion Week Streets / Yuhan Wang /  Tanner Fletcher
Fashion Week Streets / Yuhan Wang /  Tanner Fletcher

Pulling inspiration from places such as catwalks and cultural shifts, the use of predictive analytics can help to better understand the origins of these viral trends. WGSN’s predictive analytics tool TrendCurve+, which leverages over five years of historical data to better predict trends, forecasted the prairie blouse, a #Cottagecore staple, to grow 1.1ppt YoY into S/S 24 within the US women’s woven tops mix.

Throughout the onset of 2023, online conversations pertaining to an array of various ‘core’ trends saw 1.5ppt growth, reaching 2.4% penetration of social conversations YoY.

#Core aesthetic social mentions over time
#Core aesthetics social mentions over time

WGSN’s proprietary data suggests that conversations surrounding fashion 'cores' have gained momentum in recent years. Social mentions surrounding ‘-cores’, including the outdoorsy #Gorpcore, vibrant #Barbiecore and aquatic #Mermaidcore are all contributing factors. In addition to social, data points across search, retail shelf, catwalk shows and consumer sentiment are combined to better understand the evolution of these trends. TrendCurve+ forecasted the performance jacket, a style synonymous with #Gorpcore, to grow by 1.1ppt YoY into S/S 24 within the US men’s jacket mix.

S/S 23 ‘core’ aesthetics: performance review

WGSN’s proprietary data showcases which aesthetics were front of mind across social media throughout S/S 23.

#Mermaidcore on the catwalk: David Koma / Louis Vuitton / Denzil Patrick
#Mermaidcore on the catwalk: David Koma / Louis Vuitton / Denzil Patrick

Online conversations surrounding #Mermaidcore – aligned to #AquaticGlam, one of WGSN’s Key Trends for 2023 – saw 0.3ppt growth, reaching 0.3% penetration of total online conversation YoY, while #Cottagecore reached 0.5% penetration.

Winter season 'cores'

As temperatures drop and the A/W fashion seasons approach, one question remains: what colder weather 'cores' will begin to take shape?

“Mixing a subversive and rebellious spirit with feminine undertones, #GothLite themes gain momentum across youth, influenced by subcultures and driven by a desire for escapism in a world of uncertainty,” says Marina Giustino, a strategist at WGSN.

#GothLight on the catwalk: Chopova Lowena / Alessandra Rich / Christian Dior
#GothLight on the catwalk: Chopova Lowena / Alessandra Rich / Christian Dior

Although it may be too early to be considered a ‘core’, online conversations surrounding ‘goth’ aesthetics have grown 0.2ppt since 2021 and reached 0.8% penetration throughout 2023, making a strong case for gothcore to earn a spot on the trophy mantel for viral 'core' trends.

‘Goth’ aesthetic social mentions over time
‘Goth’ aesthetic social mentions over time

The future of ‘cores’

#Gothcore’s momentum hints at the longevity of other aesthetics. According to WGSN’s Youth Culture Strategist Elizabeth Tan, “ 'Core' aesthetics will continue to be part of Gen Z’s vernacular. The use of suffixes such as -core, -ification, -pilled and even adding ‘girl’ to trends will be integrated into their slang handbook.”

WGSN data helps to anticipate trends ahead of the curve. Speak to our team to get more predictive analytic insights: request a WGSN demo today. 

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