Steampunk’s Global InfluencePosted 11:33 am on Friday, October 12th, 2012 by John 'Spartan' Nguyen
Steampunk has taken off recently through social medial sites like Pinterest and Etsy. First prominent in the 1980s and early 1990s, steampunk incorporates Victorian-era style with fantasy, alternate history and speculative fiction. This subculture has been incorporated in music, films, fashion, literature and video games.
With over 180,000 items ranging from clothing, jewelry, military and artwork found on Etsy, creating the perfect Halloween costumes for you and your friends will be a piece of cake. All you need to do is incorporate Victorian gowns, corsets or coats with goggles, compasses, twisted pipes and cogs.
Steampunk has become socially acceptable and has even become mainstream by celebrities like Lady Gaga who donned retro-steam style in her “Alejandro” music video and, most recently, Justin Bieber. But steampunk is being worn by people all over the world, with steampunk conventions to prove it.
A Global Movement
When first drawing influence for steampunk you might default to British Victorian. But so many cultures and communities have taken part in the movement. From Japan to Brazil, there’s a little steampunk in everyone.
Japan—If you travel to Japan, you might see steampunk influences in samurai suits, silk kimonos and tea ceremony outfits. Most popular is harajuku steampunk. Brightly dyed blue or pink hair, bright pink makeup, baby-doll inspired clothes, mechanical masks and tight-fitting vests mesh together to form a perfect union.
Germany—Mixing brass-buttoned military coats, high-lapel vests, tweed trousers and hunting boots with a steam flair is what Germans draw their inspiration from. Steampunk Munich is Germany’s own steam group, where hundreds of people share their tips, pics and ideas of steampunk in Munich, Germany.
U.S.—With dozens of steampunk conventions across the United States, steampunk enthusiasts show off their westernized, goth-Victorian style dreads with steam goggles, pipes and mechanical arms.
Brazil—If you find yourself drawn to Brazil, be sure to check out the group Conselho Steampunk. Their website details upcoming events so you won’t miss a beat.
Steampunk in the Movies
You might be surprised to learn there are a lot of movies out there (including cartoons) with a steampunk spin. Some of the most recognized titles include:
- “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea”
- “The Prestige”
- “The Golden Compass”
- “Van Helsing”
- “Sleepy Hollow”
- “Wild Wild West”
- “Treasure Planet”
- “Atlantis: The Lost Empire”
- “Sherlock Holmes”
- “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”
How to Dress Steampunk
If you want to draw influences from a global standpoint, check out Pinterest. Doing a search of “steampunk” will give you hundreds of boards dedicated to all things steam. Accessories, fashion, artwork and housewares all patiently wait to be looked through. The easiest way to get this subculture look is to mix the old with the new. Ruffled tops, corsets, vests or trench coats make for the perfect starting point. Then all you need to do is add the steam accessories: gas masks, clocks, cogs, goggles, top hats, barrel guns and mechanical arm pieces. You might also want to draw inspiration from films like Edward Scissorhands or Sweeney Todd.
John “Spartan” Nguyen is the editor-in-chief at Nerd Reactor and is based in Orange County, CA. He is a graphic designer and illustrator.