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
Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
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: Designer

    £32969 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is going through a period o...

    Recruitment Genius: Data Engineer

    £35000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Data Engineer is required to ...

    Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

    £26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

    Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

    £24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence