Cottagecore – where did that come from?
For most people, cottagecore is something like a deer suddenly rocketing across the interstate during a drowsy late night long haul drive. And from time to time, popping up yet again, until your eventually surrounded by gaggles of 80s era poofy sleeve dress wearing Loretta Lynns and throwback hollie hobbies. What’s going on here?
Instagram feeds are piling up with with fantasy photoshoots, of frolicking cottagers among wildflowers wearing straw hats, carrying baguettes in wicker baskets through English countryside gardens. Attending Pop-up Husking bees in tiny Manhattan apartments; Photo opportunistic Chandlers hosting tallow candle making parties in silver lake. Instagram moments are one thing, but, as the doomsday clock keeps ticking forward, behind it all is growing interest in collecting flowers and wild crafting herbs, baking rustic breads and home churned butter.
There is this whole social media presence side, but that really is just a surface veneer, i believe. Like a generational brood of emerging cicadas, I feel that this is another reiteration of a theme that pops up with every generation since the hippy back-to-the-landers and much further back to the luddites. Each layer representing the overlooked elements of the prior, while attempting to distinguish itself as something new and avant-garde.
In the 90s we saw grunge emerge, and it’s pioneering icons with flannels and torn jeans. Around the early 2000s, there appeared the old-timey scene, which grew out of a punk rock subculture that had already been dabbling in neo-hoboism and frieght train hopping for years. It was a music centered movement complete with moonshining, saloon brawling and banjo playing. Then, several years Later, There was the appropriation by some punks of Thier diametrically opposed culture war opposite: the redneck. Now punks could revel in realtree camo, guns and hunting. Many pursued interests in country skills, while keeping up with the latest in Norwegian black metal.
Concurrently with these, were the irony-loving millennials with Thier artisanal pickles, handlebar mustaches and penny farthings. these aesthetic waves depended upon and were fueled by what was currently being undervalued. For the old-timey folks, nobody else wanted banjos and accordions, for the punk dread-necks, there was a dearth of real tree hitting the thriftstores. It was bargains galore. And To complete the lifestyle, free of charge, there was the forgotten music like dixieland jazz, klezmer, and the Carter family. All you had to do was learn the tunes.
Before all of this, many of us from generation x, myself included, embraced 1920s circus and carnival sideshow, albeit with a hardcore punk accent. It had us Foraging through struggling costume shops and 2nd hand stores for passé theatrical attire at rock bottom prices. However, with Each of these iterations, they became more refined and a little more softer edged than the wave before.
all of these aesthetics aside, there was a central embracing of long forgotten music, entertainment and traditional skills, the things we needed to know and learn, to survive after the coming end of the world. Inherent within this is a somewhat rejection of technology and back-turning to major retail brands, creating a headache for marketing teams grappling with what to try to sell us. And for the gen-z, A rejection of boomer values and distancing and evaluation of millennial culture.
Also what must be observed is the incongruous nature of these budding subcultures. The claiming of an aesthetic with no current value and imbuing it with your own.
Now, i’m going to set my opinion out here, like a pie cooling off on a windowsill, on a calm bucolic evening. that, all of these things that make up the obtainable cottagecore look, began like all the other against the grain movements. Starting with the things that have been passed over by everyone else. The stuff that for decades stayed on the shelves at thrift stores until ultimately going to the dumpster. The clothing that made it’s way to the vintage store 2 dollar sale rack before facing a similar fate. The very last things left that nobody else desired.
It makes sense that faced with the current skyrocketing and unaffordable rents and low wages, all you can do is take what is left, what is cheap, and what no one before has ever wanted, at least in a good while.
Also, what all of these trends have in common is a rebuke, and statement that we don’t like the future being designed for and sold for us. choosing option D) none of the above. Perhaps we are unnerved by the understanding that we are headed for climate disaster, And we want to jump ship.
wherever this trend is headed, i applaud the ones for making these things Thier own, for liberating the free boxes of these disowned fashions of yesteryear. continuing the subcultural history of taking America’s unwanted scraps and refining it to define themselves. And define Thier own paragraph in this story. All the While trying to make sense of these times, and create a space where beauty and craft itself are valued again.