Steampunk! Introducing Britain's latest fashion craze

The retro-futuristic blend of Victoriana and sci-fi is the next big thing to hit the high streets, forecasters say

Steampunk, once a cultish mix of sci-fi, steam and Victoriana in film and books, is now poised to conquer the world of fashion. Forecasters say the style, which blends the gaslight romance of Victorian London with a frisson of H G Wells and Jules Verne-inspired fantasy, is poised to make a massive leap from niche to the high street.

The news will come as little surprise to the tens of thousands who are already into the retro-futuristic style. But experts at the computer giant IBM predict that "steampunk will shift from low-production, high-cost 'craft' manufacturing to mass-production" within the next two years.

IBM analysed social media and other internet sites, and found that the amount of online discussion about steampunk increased 11-fold between 2009 and 2012.

It also noted that, since 2010, more than 20 major department stores and other retailers had become "steampunk savvy".

Fashion labels, accessories suppliers and jewellery-makers are expected to integrate steampunk looks into their designs – from corsets and aviator goggles to lace veils and frock coats.

Evidence of the emerging trend can already be seen on the catwalks. Prada's winter men's campaign featured several of Hollywood's leading males, including Gary Oldman, Jamie Bell and Willem Dafoe – dressed for adventure in heavily tailored, steampunk-inspired suits. The hats and equestrian-themed outfits in John Galliano's summer 2013 collection for Dior are said to have been similarly influenced.

High-street and internet retailers haven't been slow to react. Topshop and Asos have already embraced the trend, with the former offering a gothic velvet-and-lace bralet teamed with a floor-length pleated skirt in oxblood, and Asos has a double-breasted coat. Alternatively, Planet offers a veil fascinator.

The distinctive style – the name was first coined to distinguish a genre of fantasy set in an alternative Victorian era – can now be widely seen in everything from blockbuster films such as Van Helsing, starring Hugh Jackman, and the Robert Downey Jr Sherlock Holmes films through to some of Lady Gaga's wacky outfits and the steamship entrance of singer Rihanna at the London Paralympics.

IBM said its Birth of a Trend study looked at how trends spread globally online, and whether what's trending on social networks is likely to become commercially viable.

Trevor Davis, IBM's consumer products expert, said: "Technology can provide tremendous foresight, to help businesses differentiate what is a fleeting fad versus what is an enduring trend."

Some fashionistas have been sniffy: one dismissed steampunk as "what happens when goths discover brown".

But IBM expressed confidence in its work, saying its software was able to distinguish between sarcasm and sincerity to spot developing trends.

Steampunk chic

It isn't cheap but if you want to get the look, here's our guide:

Headgear Toppers, bowlers, veils, and even ball masks

Coats Military trenches and greatcoats

Jackets Double-breasted, pin-stripe suits with waistcoats

Shirts For her, the chiffon blouse; for him, collarless

Underwear Bustles, corsets and petticoats

Dresses Mix and match velour, velvet and lace

Trousers Jeans make the look less severe

Shoes Spats, platform lace-up boots from cut-price fashion chains

Accessories Goggles are a must, as are opulent brooches and pocket watches. Mobile phones can be "Victorianised"

Suggested Topics
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Sport
The RBS Six Nations trophy at the Aviva Stadium ahead of Ireland vs England
rugby
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West found himself at the centre of a critical storm over the weekend after he apparently claimed to be “the next Mandela” during a radio interview
music
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

    £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

    Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

    £28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

    Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

    £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

    Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

    £18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
    A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

    It's not easy being Green

    After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
    Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

    Gorillas nearly missed

    BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
    Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

    The Downton Abbey effect

    Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
    China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

    China's wild panda numbers on the up

    New census reveals 17% since 2003
    Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

    Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

    Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
    Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

    Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

    Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
    Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

    Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

    Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
    New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

    Dinner through the decades

    A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
    Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

    Philippa Perry interview

    The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

    Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

    Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
    Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

    Harry Kane interview

    The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
    The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?