Breaking Down Gen Z Trends And All Their “-Core” Aesthetic

Breaking Down Gen Z Trends And All Their “-Core” Aesthetic

Getting to the “-core” of it all



Trends always come full circle. We see it when our moms and older siblings unearth their decade-old Dr. Martens boots or flannel shirts from the 90s to pass them on to us. We see it in the return of windbreakers that reminds our parents of the 80s. Heck, it’s also in the sudden new interest in embellished and low-waisted jeans of the 2000s.


More styles and trends develop and stay, even when we feel like the world has done away with them. For example, elements from 2014’s soft grunge era remained in our consciousness. We may no longer be reblogging emo kids decked out in American Apparel or typographies of hard-hitting lyrics, but there seems to be a return of plaid and pleated skirts, chunky shoes and thick eyeliner a few years later.


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Now, Generation Z is at the helm of dictating trends and mainstay looks to define their own styles in the era of individuality. If the teens of the 2010s had Lookbook, Facebook and Tumblr, the teens of this decade use TikTok and Instagram to popularize these looks. We’ve heard of the mustard-wearing, Fjallraven Kanken-bearing and Van Gogh-loving Art Hoe. Or perhaps the aesthetic-turned-meme that are the VSCO girls: the Hydroflask-carrying, scrunchie-obsessed girls who have a penchant for the app they’re named after.


Gen Z trends pull inspiration from past trends, eventually morphing and creating different main aesthetics, sometimes even subcultures. Most of these are followed by the “-core” suffix, which, according to AestheticsWiki, highlights a certain feature that defines the style. Upon looking at the page, there’s a whole list of these from A-Z, such as Barbiecore and Ratcore. But before I get carried away on the different ones, let’s break down those that made it into the mainstream.




Kidcore, like the name suggests, is all about the things we used to wear as kids. Most of its common accessories are colorful barrettes and clips, beaded accessories and funky-colored tops. Just take a look at BTS’s J-Hope, whose love for the Murakami flower and homemade bead accessories made him a kidcore icon. ARMYs even coined the term Hobicore in pertaining to the singer’s individual style which incorporates kidcore aesthetic elements.




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Let me nip it in the bud: this Gen Z trend is very much SFW; just Google “softcore aesthetic.” Softcore is all about everything cute, soft and muted. It heavily draws its inspiration from Japan’s kawaii culture. Think: all baby blues and baby pinks, adorable Sanrio stuffed toys and slight inspirations from Lolita fashion. These styles are often seen in softer gamer girls and anime fans alike.


E-Girl or E-Boy


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Despite its offensive origins in the realms of gaming, e-girls managed to turn it around and reclaim the term and turn it into a whole subculture. Here, they created a whole aesthetic that, to put it bluntly, looks like the little sister of 2014 Tumblr’s soft grunge era with some inspiration from K-pop’s darker concepts. The common plaid and pleated skirts and pants, chunky platform boots and wildly colored hair return this era but with the added embellishments of long chains, dangly earrings and thick, winged liner. 




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There is a name for Taylor Swift’s aesthetic for Folklore and Evermore and it’s… cottagecore. According to Architectural Digest, it’s a movement that goes back to the simpler, harmonious life with nature. For other sources, it’s often an idealized life in the Western countryside If you need a clearer picture, the setting of the film Call Me By Your Name is the perfect cottagecore inspiration. But the very style of it is all about flowy sundresses, cozy cardigans and sometimes straw hats. This is very much the dream, isn’t it?




One thing about certain Gen Z subcultures is that some of them go back to a certain pursuit. If the E-girls are reclaiming a misogynist term and Cottagecore humans are going back to sustainability and harmony, then the Academia aesthetic also highlights a passion for continuous learning. It has different variations, but its most prominent ones are Dark and Light Academia. These two usually zero in on more European influences, such as an affinity for Renaissance art and classic literature.



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What other Gen Z trends should we be looking out for? Let us know in the comments below!



Art Matthew Ian Fetalver

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