What is the TikTok Dark Academia subculture?
Lilly Borges, 15 years old, who post videos of its diamond-patterned sweaters, classic architecture, and Virginia Woolf novels under the Dark Academia label also found Dark Academia on Tumblr when it was a much smaller community. “The community is very special to me because as a child I was very shy and reserved. I was left alone and was very interested in academics at a young age, ”she said. “My favorite book in 7th grade was ‘Crime and Punishment.'”
While this might seem like a niche, part of Dark Academia’s appeal is that it’s both more aesthetically accessible than other popular internet subcultures – one example being Cottagecore, the internet aesthetic inspired by a fictionalized take on rural life – and also emphasizes inclusiveness and genre fluidity.
To be a part of Dark Academia, you don’t need to have access to a country house, a field of flowers, a large kitchen for cooking, or an expensive meadow dress. Most of the clothes worn by Dark Academia fans are vintage and can easily be found in second-hand stores or websites.
Laura Piszczatowska, history student in Norway, runs the Dark Academia Instagram account Geminnorum (more than 28,000 subscribers), where she publishes photos of old Spanish buildings at night, the twinkle of a candle and typewriters. At TIC Tac, she produces videos on the piano music of the Vitamin String Quartet showing stacks of books, cups of tea, old postcards and letters written in ink. “My typical outfit is tweed pants, a black turtleneck or white shirt, smart shoes and long coats,” she said. “My favorite coat is the one I saved for a low price.”
Likewise, Evelyn Meyer, a 20-year-old who created the “Dark Academia check” ring in September 2019, often favors clothing from the men’s section of Goodwill in its videos, as well as the pages of books hanging on her wall, a typewriter she owns, and paperback novels written by beatniks and transcendentalists.