Retrofuturistic Clothing: Meaning and Future Prospects

Fashion Studies

The ultra-advancement of technology enables human beings to visualise and represent their level of creative thinking or imagination in an artistic way. Though people have always been creative and have had profound visions, but in lack of proper means, they were not able to show their imagination. But all thanks to modern technology, because of which we can show our imagination. Likewise, retrofuturistic clothing is also one of such imagination that we can actually see it much ahead of time.

What is the Meaning of Retrofuturism?

Also known as futuristic clothing, retrofuturistic clothing is a creatively imagined vision that defines or visualizes a specific type of clothing that most likely would be worn in the distant future. Some of such examples are seen in the movies and also in some science fiction books carrying images. Such futuristic clothing that usually shown in the movies or science fiction book, are characteristically skin-tight garments, or one-piece garments, or possibly combination of both. Its look is typically like a leotard.

Furthermore, the term also defines, a blend of old-fashioned "retro styles" with futuristic technology. And, with the help of technology's empowering effects, the experts working on it investigate themes that connect the past and the future.Initially, it is illustrated in artistic creations and then modified through the technologies that make us realize the imagined artefacts of its parallel reality.

Salient Features

Interestingly, the term "retrofuturism" describes two overlapping trends, which may be summarized as "the future as seen from the past and the past as seen from the future."

As described in the first trend, retrofuturism is directly inspired by the futuristic imagination, which originated in the minds of thinkers (may be writers, movie makers, or any such person who has such creative thinking and imagination, particularly after the 1960s period) who attempted to visualise the future (i.e., their imagination) through available technology (e.g., movie makers—making science fiction movies) or through science fiction novels and stories (usually fiction writers). And, in the present era, the same futuristic visions are revamped and updated with the help of modern technology, and described, in the form of visual illustrations, what the future might have been, but it is not.

The second trend (discussed above) is the opposite of the first one, i.e., futuristic retro, which begins with the retro appeal of old styles of clothing, art, and mores, and then grafts modern or futuristic technologies onto it. Likewise, they create a combination of past, present, and future elements. And, to define it, the term "Steampunk," is used. Steampunk is used for both the retrojection of futuristic technology into an alternative Victorian age, and the application of neo-Victorian styles to modern technology. It is a highly appreciated and successful version of the second trend.

Genres of Retrofuturism

Following are some of the significant genres of retrofuturism, each one of which refers to a technology of a specific time period;

  • Cyberpunk: It originated in the early 1980s in literature, which can be largely seen in the works of Bruce Bethke, Bruce Sterling, William Gibson, and Pat Cadigan.

  • Steampunk: It originated in the late 1980s, and it is usually characterized as more optimistic and brighter than cyberpunk. It describes an alternate history closely related to the 19th century from circa the Regency era onwards and up to circa 1914. In addition to this, futuristic technologies are based on steam power.

  • Dieselpunk: It depicts the period between World War I and World War II (more precisely, between 1920 and 1950).

  • Atompunk: It describes the pre-digital period between 1945 and 1965, which includes the Atomic Age, mid-century Modernism, the Jet Age, and the Space Age. In addition to this, it also illustrates the rise of Communism and paranoia in the United States; Soviet styling; underground cinema; Googie architecture; the Sputnik, Mercury, and other early space programs; superhero fiction; early Cold War espionage; and the rise of the US military/industrial powers.

  • Raygun Gothic: It usually describes various aspects of the Gothic, Streamline Moderne, and Art Deco architectural styles.


The platitude of futuristic clothing has now become part of the imaginative idea of retrofuturism. And, unquestionably, in the present era, futuristic fashion plays an important role in our lives. With the help of modern technology, the experts of this field visualize the imaginative ideas into a real picture and then create the real-world clothing fashions.


Updated on 13-Oct-2022 11:19:47