Health Goth began on facebook, on a page run by a Portland-based underground pop duo named Magic Fades: Mike Grabarek and Jeremy Scott. The pair began posting images they felt met their particular aesthetic, and quickly gained a solid following.
It gained more mainstream notoriety in 2014, roughly around the same time as Normcore. As with Normcore, Health Goth’s success lies in the simultaneous strength and apparent lack of specifics in its aesthetic. It rarely moves outside the realm of sterile, fetishized cleanliness (of both lifestyle and design). The founders of the facebook page are quoted as saying that they “[saw] something dark or sexual in [the images posted] that wasn’t intended to be there. So really the subversive side was portraying the ads in a new light.”
This feeling of under-the-radar perversion is woven throughout the movement. Participants transform the iconic black and white Adidas tracksuit (previously synonymous with the lower classes of both the United States and Great Britain) into a form of nouveau, palatable BDSM wear.
Established post-2008-Recession, post-internet, post-social media, Health Goth inevitably began online. The interweaving of club-culture with online blogging and street style blogs, coupled with the apathy and disillusionment of generations X and Y, resulted in a public hungry for disengagement from the world around them.
Health Goth’s most iconic image is that of the black Adidas tracksuit. Worn in full or matched with a variety of sports/clubwear, the trend is synonymous with the double stripe. Whether this was an organic development or – as some have guessed, given the founders ties to the brand – an engineered one, there is no denying that the core of most fashion looks involve Adidas in some form.
What if you were a dour cyborg with a Planet Fitness membership?
After its initial surge in popularity in 2014, Health Goth was ultimately usurped by Normcore in the cultural and fashion zeitgeists. Normcore, a more accessible, colour-friendly version of the trend, has ultimately had more success because it’s aesthetic is palatable to a wider audience. Health Goth isn’t dead though! At the Venice Biennale back in July a ‘health goth choir’ took over an exhibit, serenading the guest, clad in Adidas. Perhaps as the athleisure trend continues in earnest, we’ll see a revival.