Is Mainstream Culture the Culprit Behind the Death of Punk?

Is Mainstream Culture the Culprit Behind the Death of Punk?

Punk subculture is based around punk musicians and their fans. Punk music is a hard-edged music genre that originated from garage rock. Since its development in the mid 1970’s, punk rock has become a strong subculture in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia.


“I don’t think punk is necessarily a style of music,” says John Robb of the Rebellion Punk Festival in Blackpool, “It’s a questing attitude and not just slavishly following the rules. Punk means different things for every person.”


Punk culture has often disassociated from mainstream culture, owning their aloofness from the mainstream as part of their identity. But by the early 2000’s, punk rock derivatives had become a popular genre of music on a wider scale than ever before.


Today, we see a new wave of mainstream grunge clothing gaining popularity. Stores like Sourpuss, Too Fast, and Dolls Kill are clothing retailers specifically designed for one target audience: punk rockers. This branding fits in with the counterculture of punk.


Shredded Glam Punk Muscle Tee (

Shredded Glam Punk Muscle Tee (

What happens when counterculture goes mainstream? Would punk clothing still be punk if it were sold at stores like Forever 21 and Gap? When we searched Forever 21’s website with the search entry “punk,” three results came up. One was a “Shredded Glam Punk Muscle Tee,” and another was an “Underground Punk Sweatshirt.”


It would seem that if the most popular names in youth fashion are adhering to the look, then punk fashion is no longer “a questing attitude.” Jessica Wakeman of The Frisky reviewed Forever 21’s punk line, which is named “Twist,” and concluded, “Forever 21 Twist clothes are about as authentically ‘punk’ as Avril Lavigne is … which is to say they’d have Sid Vicious rolling in his grave.”


Wakeman also noted “Real punks would and do not shop at Forever 21. Real punks ripped their own clothes up. Real punks pierced themselves with safety pins and didn’t cry about it.”


Punk culture is very much alive, as festivals like Rebellion Punk Festival and countless others around the world continue to be a meeting grounds for authentic punks. Their rebellious lifestyles are unlikely to end anytime soon, but what remains likely is that few punks will shop in the “punk departments” at mainstream clothing retailers.


What do you think about punk fashion in mainstream stores? Comment below or tweet me @LydiaYekalam

Lydia Yekalam

Lydia Yekalam is a Freelance Writer for MUIPR. She was born and raised in Seattle, and is currently a communications major at the University of Washington. Lydia loves traveling and hopes to one day live in Europe. Her hobbies include taking Instagram-worthy photos, creating DIY interior design projects, and pursuing all things fitness related. Follow Lydia on Twitter @LydiaYekalam

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