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What is dark academia?

Updated: Jan 12, 2023

Trending on TikTok, dark academia was born out of the combination of different elements from dark trends – such as punk, goth and emo – with the college aesthetic.

The trend has been gaining popularity on TV, on catwalks and on the streets among the younger generation. START by WGSN explains more about the aesthetic and its impact on fashion.



How did the aesthetic emerge?

Social media platforms such as TikTok were key in popularizing the aesthetic. #DarkAcademia has more than 2bn views on the platform, highlighting the idealization of the college experience and reading.

Besides social media, dark academia has been boosted by TV shows and series such as Elite (2018) and Gossip Girl (2021).















Key elements of dark academia:

  • Dark shades with low saturation

  • Checkered prints and classic stripes

  • Layered looks

  • Tailored or leather bases

  • Accessories such as ties and knee-high socks

  • Moccasins and Oxford shoes


Dark academia on A/W 22/23 catwalks


Brands such as Kenzo and Miu Miu harnessed this trend in their collections, enhancing the aesthetic in youthful and elaborated looks for winter.


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