“Funnily enough ‘mallgoth’ was meant to be a bit of an insult,” explains Trinity Levy, the Arizona-based high school senior who started the Instagram account @1990smallgoth. “Being called a mallgoth was the equivalent of being called a poser. The purpose of it was to describe the kids who loved Marilyn Manson and bought Tripp pants from Hot Topic back in the day, but still identified or were seen as goth. I'd say that that broad description is still true at its core. Despite its name, it doesn't have anything at all to do with the goth subculture besides sharing a few aesthetics.”
Those aesthetics are actually quite overblown, in the best way. Across the feed there’s odes to Evanescence’s Amy Lee, there’s two teen goths sat next to Santa, and there’s tonnes of genius unnamed goth kids in malls and on sunny streets. There’s an oxymoronic nature of seeing goths in the sunlight, goths in family kitchens, goths in bathroom stalls – some of the most wonderful images on the account take an incredibly romanticised aesthetic and make it sweetly domestic.
“I initially started @1990smallgoth as my own personal dumpsite for the collection of 90s alternative music, fashion, and art that I had accumulated over time,” Levy continues. “I truly didn't think so many others shared the same love and appreciation for a dated trend that people usually laugh at and find embarrassing! Throughout my childhood, my parents raised me on the alternative music powerhouses of the 90s, stuff like Manson, Nine Inch Nails, and nu metal, so I've created a lot of personal attachment to the scene as well.”
Finding the images of this specific subculture within a subculture is harder than it might appear, though. “I look for images on any social media platform I can and have a long mental list of keywords I mix and match together. There are some days where I'm searching for several hours just to find a few photos!”
But there’s goths in all of us – or at least a feeling of being an outsider – it just takes guts to commit to it in the ways these 90s mallgoths really did. “The authenticity and individuality of mallgoth culture is definitely what I find most interesting and lovable. You definitely have to have a certain level of confidence to rock it and I love that!”