What do the words “cyber and punk” have in common? If you stop to think about them, you might imagine nerds in front of beeping computers with colorful mohawks and ear piercings. At least, we imagine that: nerds who love science and video games. Well, cyberpunk style is all of this -and more. It looks like the science fiction movies, something out of Blade Runner. In the space colonies, there is no space for diamonds or pink bows. The world of cyberpunk aesthetics is about neon lights, skyscrapers, and dystopian landscapes.
In dystopian landscapes, citizens don’t wear stilettos and ties. Like Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road, they don’t dress to impress. Instead, in this genre, they dress to feel comfortable. Still, cyberpunk style surely attracts attention, like a magnet or like Alita Battle Angel. On Earth, the future is difficult. It’s dark and violent, filled with dust and pessimism. But that doesn’t mean it’s not inspiring. It’s surely inspiring to us, since we love anything and everything cyberpunk, from novels to science fiction movies.
Contemporary culture is attracted to the cyberpunk aesthetics and its world, in which anything is possible -and nothing is censored.
What is cyberpunk?
While the image of the nerd computer guy with glasses isn’t accurate, there is no cyberpunk genre and culture without computers, technology, and machines. Three things we love. In this future, the boundaries between mankind and machines get blurry. It’s not just robots walking around colonies with rifles and evil drones.
Machines have become a part of everyday life. They are the waiters, the personal assistants, and the caretakers. They are us -or we are them. While they haven’t taken over the Earth, they are an important piece of the puzzle. That’s the word “cyber” for you.
Then there is the term “punk.” One attitude characterized this movement: rebellion. Punk means questioning authority, finding alternatives, and being anti-heroes. There is no space for Batman in shiny armor or Superman in laundered capes -and we don’t miss them. The story of punk is made of rebels and dissidents. Often, they are portrayed as criminals, but simply because they look and act differently, think about Mel Gibson starring as Max Rockatansky. Mad Max and the punks can be misunderstood, more than criminals.
More than criminals, they are trendsetters. And you can become one too. We promise it will work: we tested this ourselves.
Among cyborgs, planets, and flashy lights
So, where did cyberpunk aesthetic come from?
They were trendsetters even in the 80s when the cyberpunk movement began. Author Bruce Bethke coined the term in his science fiction writing, so he’s the one who created cyberpunk aesthetics. He combined punk attitude with high technology to create a new future, high tech and slightly pessimistic. From that moment on, cyberpunk became a genre, our favorite type of novel. And, later, a style.
Traditional science fiction told stories of space travel, alien worlds, and parallel universes. Perhaps Isaac Asimov said it better: “science fiction deals with the reaction of human beings to changes in science and technology.” In cyberpunk, these reactions aren’t cheerful. One of our science fiction novels by Asimov is I,Robot (1950) which includes rules of ethics for robots and any artificial intelligence. Yes, you have heard this before. It’s the inspiration for the 2004 Will Smith movie.
In the dystopian future, there is rarely a happy ending. Instead, there is fear. Despite this pessimistic view, the genre picked up and it spread to every facet of culture, perhaps because it told us something about our reality.
Movies to watch, books to read
From the pages of Bethke right to the screens of Hollywood and the chapters of mangas, like the title “Akira” (1982-89) set in a corrupt Neo-Tokyo where citizens slowly lose their sense of self. Another manga for the aficionados of the genre is “Ghost in the Shell” (1989) set in the fictional Japanese city of Niihama. There are even cyberbrains for these futuristic citizens. Mangas aside, many science fiction stories portray the cyberpunk aesthetic.
So, what is cyberpunk culture? The books, movies, and TV shows will help you understand 101%.
Here are some of our favorites to read from this genre. For the cold night winters or on the beach during summer:
- “The Tale of the Eternal Champion” series by Michael Moorcock. These novels feature the character of Lucifer and a bloody quest for the Holy Grail.
- “Babel-17” by Samuel Delany with an excruciating war between humankind and the Invaders.
- “The Chronicles of Amber” by Roger Zelazny, a saga of princes and parallel worlds.
- “Ubik” by Philip Dick, which tells the story of jingles, alternate dimensions, and anti-psychics.
- “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson in which corporations have taken over.
- “A land fit for heroes” series by Richard Morgan, set in a future when a dark lord will rise.
No doubt, movie director Ridley Scott loved cyberpunk style and culture in his 1982 movie Blade Runner. Grab your popcorn (we are partial to caramel ones) and watch Johnny Mnemonic (1995), starring Keanu Reeves and directed by Robert Longo. This is true cyberpunk aesthetics with evil megacorporations, complicated computer systems, and even the Japanese mafia, the Yakuza.
Straight from Japan is the anime and later movie Battle Angel Alita. With cyborgs and bounty hunters, Alita’s future is dark. Always Japanese is character Motoko Kusanagi, while cyberpunk future also has space for an American police officer, aka Judge Dredd.
If you are ready for a true Netflix marathon, you can’t miss the series Altered Carbon. Based on the homonymous novel by Richard Morgan, this science fiction series depicts the future of 2384 in Bay City-at least for the first season. It’s a world filled with technology, like artificial intelligence, and where people wake up 250 later, in a new body. One of our favorite episodes is “Nightmare Alley,” episode 3 of season 2. Highlighting the devil inside of us, this episode is about memory and bounty hunters.
Of course, we can’t forget the Matrix saga introduced punks with long, black capes and dark sunglasses -even when there is no sun out. After Keanu Reeves experienced this dystopian world, it was time for Matt Damon to join the game.
He did it in 2013 with the movie Elysium. On a poor and destroyed Earth, everyone looks up to the rich and healthy planet, floating in the galaxy. In the movie, Damon wears a powered exoskeleton. Good news: you don’t have to. But we’d love to try one. Cyberpunk style is futuristic, but you won’t become a cyborg. Perhaps you can play like one.
Cyberpunk video games
If you are into the gaming world, there are tons of options for you with a one-way flight to the future. Here are some of our favorites to shout at the screen:
- Localhost. We are the bee workers storing everything in hard drives with unique (and stubborn) artificial intelligence.
- Control, in which humans and the supernatural finally meet. This video game is about control, but there are no rules to achieve it.
- The Division 2, set in a future destroyed by the plague. Systems have failed, there is violence, and the White House is still standing. What could go wrong?
The characters of The Division 2 wear the cyberpunk aesthetic without even knowing it. Clueless and stylish.
Creating a cyberpunk outfit
There are a few pillars of this movement and trend. This is how you get the cyberpunk aesthetic. You can’t be a rebel if you are not wearing:
- Cargo pants
- Leather boots
- Face mask
- Black jacket
Functional and stylish, these items are a must-have, even for techwear and urban style. That’s why in our collections you can find masks, goggles, and glasses. Yes, cyberpunk made masks fashionable before Covid-19 came along. Each piece and accessory features iridescent and metallic textures, designed to attract attention. That’s the urban and techwear style, original and comfortable. Plus, the more useful the clothes, the better.
Like our jacket with tons of pockets, so you have room for all your pennies, electronic devices, and even mints -everyone needs mints. We also like to have space for our high-tech gadgets, like our smartwatches. Straight out of the future, with this jacket, you can survive any apocalypse.
The best way to complement this jacket is with a pair of cybergoth pants, comfortable and dark enough to hide in the dystopian world – there aren’t many street lamps there. What goes below a jacket? A techwear’s shirt, oversized and durable. If you are cold, the sweatshirt will do, with a unique design. It’s a cyborg filled with neon colors and personality because there is no cyberpunk aesthetics without personality.
Just as functional and futuristic is the tactical cloak, a lightweight raincoat with a high collar. After all, in the world of Mad Max, the weather is everything but mild. When it rains, it pours. You can finish the look with combat boots to make sure you are always ready. For anything.
However, there is no complete outfit without accessories. In the collections of techwear outfits, you will find gas masks, perfect to survive the cyborgs’ attacks, the poisonous gases, or to just look like a cyberpunk. Or you can choose a pair of futuristic glasses, still protective yet dystopian. And never more current.
Still, you might have a doubt: how do you wear cyberpunk? The good news is that rebels don’t have to smile all the time. We are antiheroes, so we can have a deep frown on our forehead. We choose clothes that are functional yet they look alternative. We need pockets, boots for any season, and goggles. You don’t wear cyberpunk: cyberpunk wears you.
Between present and future
While we might not live in this pessimistic future, our reality is made of “cyber.” Without technology, there is no contemporary world. Sure, the cyberpunk culture is set in the future, but we live in it. This is our reality, filled with screens, renewable energy, and all-powerful Internet universe. Our life is made of algorithms that tell us what we like and what we need. (Sometimes, you might just need a creative and slightly threatening mask). Often, our algorithms tell us we need more mints and smartwatches.
The line between offline and online is getting blurrier and blurrier and not because we are farsighted. In the same way, the line between men and machines in the dystopian future is blurry. But it’s not sexy role-playing.
Writers in the 80s described what we are living now and the cyberpunk aesthetic and movement might describe what the next generations will experience. Our fusion with technology might create scary realities and unprecedented challenges. Like the ones of the movie Ex Machina, in which Ava is an AI created by a human programmer, Caleb, for Nathan, his CEO. But no one saw the ending coming. Not even you. We must admit, we didn’t.
“One day the AIs are going to look back on us the same way we look at fossil skeletons on the plains of Africa. An upright ape living in dust with crude language and tools, all set for extinction,” Nathan says in the movie.
Are we set for extinction? No one knows. But it’s better to live than to wait. Instead of blending in, choose to be a “punk.” Choose to look and be different and join our dystopian universe with pockets and masks. Futuristic and cyberpunk-style fashion is made of functional yet fashionable pieces. It’s an outfit no one will forget. And you can always send us picture, so we’ll recognize you when we meet in Bay City in 2384.