Steampunk is a fine example of a semi-mainstream trend in fashion and technology that developed hand in hand with a similar trend in fantasy literature.
Here are some trends inspired by fantasy literature that a few brave souls tried out, but sadly failed to inspire a large-scale following.
Inspiration: Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar novels.
Key Elements: white riding leathers.
Outcome: Unfortunately, the lady who attempted to start this trend kept getting asked by pasty-faced men to spank them. Just as well — Heralds have absolutely nothing to wear after Labor Day.
Inspiration: Jordan’s Wheel of Time series.
Key Elements: Red-dyed hair; Desert cammo; Shoufa around the head; refusing to use a blade (uses chopstick instead to spear food).
Outcome: Their fashion choice was not well received in an American airport, but their lawyers believe they will be released from Guantanamo soon. Said one, “Dude, the government has some serious Toh to us.”
Inspiration: Pern novels.
Key Elements: Harps; Fur-lined riding boots, jackets and gloves; Goggles; Silver Threading; Customizing bikes and hogs into “dragons”; Iguana on the shoulder with cute strap-on wings (fire lizard).
Outcome: Looked down on by “cool” bikers. Midwest and Minnesota resented being called the “cold nothingness of between” during the Pernpunk annual road trips. Fur lining gets awfully hot post-Spring. And Iguana poo on shirt — ’nuff said.
Key Elements: Letting one’s nails grow long; Unibrows are a plus; Dog collars optional; and Not shaving. Anywhere.
Outcome: Letters from angry commune-living eco-warriors for stealing their look. Lice.
Inspiration: Twilight series.
Key Elements: Complete body glitter; Humorless disposition; Accessories include clingy co-dependent love interest.
Outcome: Banned by parents and roommates sick of body glitter all over furniture, towels, clothes, carpet, and car seats. Most TPs reverted back to regular emo. Some graduated to glam.
Inspiration: Watership Down.
Key Elements: Bunny ears, bunny tails, bunny makeup (as in painted nose and whiskers, most definitely NOT makeup tested on bunnies).
Outcome: Sued for trademark image infringement by Playboy.
Inspiration: The Secret of Nimh.
Key Elements: Mouse ears, mouse tails, rapiers, and gaudy jewelry.
Outcome: This movement had a similar struggle as the Bunnypunks, but against Disney’s mouse dominance. Needless to say, Disney was far more ruthless than Playboy. The matter was not helped by the fact that the NIMHPUNK members had unthinkingly clicked the little “I Accept” box on a popup End User License Agreement window while viewing an ESPN video online. ESPN is, of course, a corporate affiliate of the Disney-ABC family, and the agreement forbade them from ever doing anything, ever, that in any way made use of anything vaguely resembling a Disney-ABC-ESPN brand or trademarked image, word, or concept without express permission. (Legal disclaimer: This was, of course, satire. By reading this, Disney and all of its corporate affiliates agree not to sue me. Mickey is great. I love Mickey. Even though he hasn’t done anything significant in decades. Not that he has to. I was NOT implying that Mickey is lazy or incredibly overrated. Really.).
Inspiration: The works of Dr. Seuss.
Key Elements: Big floppy red and white hats; red fish, blue fish; swooshy green or blue hairdos; annoying plastic musical instruments.
Outcome: Became too much of a hassle being constantly stopped and frisked for drugs by the police. But they still occasionally dress up for Hempfest.
Inspiration: Super heroes.
Key Elements: Tights, capes, wearing one’s underwear on the outside of one’s pants, masks.
Outcome: The pudding ain’t bad, but the electroshock sucks.
Inspiration: The classic Buck Rogers and other early Sci Fi serials.
Key Elements: Bomber jackets, tight “captain’s” pants, and glossy boots; Miniskirts, bullet bras, large belts and tiaras; Arm guards; Decrypto-watches and rings; Metal clockwork robots; Toys and gadgets with sparklers.
Outcome: Boys kicked out of Boyscouts of America for being gay (even though they weren’t). Girls embraced by conservative groups who misconstrued fashion choice as a return to the mythical womanly values of the 1950s – then kicked out when desire to battle space monsters discovered. But mostly, got tired of being called Steampunk, and having to explain how they weren’t.