Why Fashion Is Obsessed With Apocalypse and the Post-Human World

A constant stream of world-changing incidents rob us of our ability to adapt.

Why Fashion Is Obsessed With  Apocalypse and the Post-Human World
Left to right: Hyein Seo, Windowsen, Ottolinger. Art by upapaworld

The contradicting desire of humankind to daydream about apocalypse lies in external circumstances and social changes, triggering uncertain dystopian thoughts about what lies ahead. Humans, by nature, are very curious living beings. Anxiety about the future, the potential collapse of the world, and concepts for surviving it are used as marketing tools to make us desire our own demise. Notions of apocalypse and post-human society have been romanticized, not only by fashion, but in every form of literature and entertainment: poems, comics, cinematography, music and video games.

We can find narratives dealing with "the end of the world" in some of our oldest known examples of Western literature, including the Epic of Gilgamesh. Themes like these reoccur throughout historical literature, provoked by plagues, wars and revolutions. After World War II, much of Western society was operating in survival mode. The trauma, economic strains, and technological developments of the postwar period led to an aesthetic emphasis on military and utilitarian garments, products, and engineering.

In the 1980s, these values began to merge with science fiction, manifesting in culture through entertainment: futuristic movies; journeys to outer space; and designers interpreting cosmic travels and dystopian futures.