Sub-cultures within Design

This is the post excerpt.


This essay is about subcultures and where they come from, characteristics and personalities, visual style, media that influence the subculture and brands that create for the subculture. I want to show these few perspectives so that I can argue that not all design work is based on subcultures but also on what the bigger norm wants and how it associates with them in designs and not with subculture styles necessarily. People, overall judge to easy and classify people in different subcultures. People accept these days any style and classify it as a new subculture when it’s only meant to be a style and not a cultural thing. People like having groups in life to recognise who, what, why and how people are.   What is Subcultures?

Subcultures are the particular group of understandings, manners and social structures that distinguish gatherings of individuals in the association. They contrast perceptibly from the regular authentic culture in which they are placed, either strengthening its understandings and observed or going amiss from them. Subcultures gangs their own implications, their own particular manner of adapting to rules, acknowledged to be substantial for the association, their own qualities organised in particular chains of command, they build up their own particular communication for characterising occasions around them, they make their own characteristics request.

The regular components of a subculture include: moderately remarkable qualities and standards, an uncommon slang not imparted to society,  isolate channels of correspondence,  novel styles and trends, a feeling of essential gathering having a place found in the utilisation of “us” and ‘them’, a progression of social examples that illuminate the criteria for eminence and authority, receptivity to the appeal of pioneers and satisfaction of unique neglected needs. Jordaan and Jordaan (Man in Context, Page 726)

In numerous works youth are counterposed against grown-ups, they despise and distant themselves from grown-ups and contradict them since they stand up with control. A separation was made between, for instance: Goths and ordinary people, Goths stay away from and despise grown-ups, restrict grown-ups who approve and are considered to withstand, while ordinary relate well to grown-ups. Visual societies include, skateboarders, spray painting specialist and street dancers which convey through actions. These people made space through visual portrayal. They social generation is perceived by standard culture and in that identification, they are offered an ability to talk.

Goth Subculture

How you could identify goths is through their dark hair, coloured contact lenses, piercings and stretchers, black, white, red clothing and dark make up. They like to talk about death, magic, vampires, depression, blood and they have cuts on their arms it gives you the idea of Marilyn Manson look they are authentic in their own way and they make sure to stand out for who and what they are.

Goth culture is a mind-boggling wonder that exists on many levels. From one stance, goth can be seen as a class of shopper items, counting music, writing, dress code, and embellishments and the general population who buy and utilise these merchandise. Goth culture is additionally a group, or all the more accurately an arrangement of groups, isolated on occasion by a large number of miles and dialect obstructions yet at the same time associated with shared interests to a stylish sensibility that remaining parts easily seen crosswise over social lines.

The idea of a goth group varies relying upon the district and on which some portion of the subculture is under investigation. In a few urban areas and towns, goths assemble just at music settings and in circles of dear companions, while in different spots, goths sort out enormous social occasions that mix music, style, and other goth items with the potential for systems administration and connection. There is likewise a virtual goth group led through the Internet, which entwines little nearby scenes and people from around the globe, expanding the appropriation and reach of goth-themed media and furthermore making a transnational feeling of having a place for some goths in the way of life on the loose.

Zef Subculture

The word zef originates from Afrikaans slang used to depict common white South Africans and generally means common in English. Identification of zef is a style which absorbs out-dated social and style components from the eighties and could maybe be contrasted with a South African form of American “trailer trash”. They are usually loud, mix language, curse a lot, slang and sloppy attitude. Their visual style is crop tops men and woman,  gold jewels, oversized clothing, shiny rims on their cars, sweat bands, face paint, mullet hairstyles, boxers and tattoos. The subculture was inspired by Die Antwoord and Jack Parow. zef is associated with lower middle-class white people in South Africa and they carry it out with pride zef counter culture grasps its roots with farce. They acknowledge and cherish what and their identity and where they originate from, and go over-the-top to make a message about classism.

The meaning of zef in the music world is a considerable measure looser. Both Jack Parow and Die Antwoord play with white class personalities and advance „white trash‟ as opposed to white upper-class people. Through lyrics and song names, for example, “Rich Bitch” and “Cooler as Ekke” Translated “Cooler than me” they are reproachful of the qualities put on individuals as indicated by their material utilisation conduct and promote the lower class. It is generally connected with hip-hop and rap while using components of rave. Since this kind is so new, it is difficult to depict precisely what zef music ought to be. The fundamental necessity of zef is that the melodies are sung in both English and Afrikaans. In spite of the fact that zef was unquestionably conceived from rap and hip-hop, it has shaped into another kind that gets things started.The term begins from the Ford Zephyr, which was predominately determined by this gathering of South Africans. As opposed to it being a hostile term nowadays, it’s currently constructed more in light of what you wear, what you drink and what you drive.

To encourage the zef subculture there are certain everyday associations that go with it and it came from the circumstances the lower class white people grew up in and comparing it to the higher class. Flavoring water, for example, is seen in as a drink that higher class individuals drink and a light brew is, for the most part, translated as a drink for showoffs who cannot deal with more grounded mixed refreshments. “Witblits‟ then again is known as a kind of spirits privately made by lower-class Afrikaners, a shabby approach to get extremely smashed. The individual with the new look can manage the cost of more costly clothes, while Pep is a low-evaluated retail establishment where South Africa’s poor people shop. Parow accordingly develops his character by adjusting himself to components of South African culture, highlighting class contrast inside the white group while rethinking his position as rubbish as something mainstream and beautiful.

Preppy Subculture

When thinking of preppy we like to say they are the higher class snobs who think they are better then anyone else, but it is all about image and the standard they have to raise to show off that they are better than the one standing next to them. They are the people going to private schools and colleges to show off they have the money to be better and sometimes in the real world, there is some of them who fall out because they think they can buy themselves in any work place and it doesn’t work like that everybody has to start from the bottom. Some of them get the privilege to take over their parents business and that may leave them with a fortune. Preppy subculture is under young and older class people and not just college students.

Preppies are viewed as shallow individuals, who are occupied with trifling things and belonging, they are elite and particular about their company such as friends. They are tasteful, snazzy and active. The Prep subculture can be connected to the Conflict hypothesis since it concentrates on classes. The general population in this subculture have cash and power and originate from a higher class family. From a typical perspective, we determine the majority of our judgments just from their typical appearance preceding notwithstanding knowing anything about them, in this manner giving them a negative view

The standard society see’s the preppy subculture as scary yet at the same time welcome it and even tag along to their patterns. Cases of their dress style including, blazers, pullovers, golf sweaters, group neck sweaters, skirts, conservative shirts/buttoned shirts, pearl gems, big hats, branded clothes overall.

The preppy subculture alludes to the subsequent style, exercises, convictions and qualities that incorporate those that are sufficiently favoured to appreciate costly advanced education and the going with advantaged way of life. This subculture is involved upper-centre to high society people who go to or send their kids to the costly schools, private academies, and Ivy League colleges.

Sports are a noteworthy part of this subculture. Truth be told, muscularity in this class is frequently measured by the level of contribution in sports and an outdoor way of life. Because of the accessibility of cash, expensive sports, similar to horseback riding, cruising, paddling, golf, skiing, and polo are prominent among this gathering. Grown-ups appreciate participations with nation clubs, where they can improve their tennis or hitting the fairway abilities.

As far as school, there is an increased angle on the association in social exercises and clubs. Organising and setting up social associations are seen now and then as much more imperative than anything else. In this manner, organisations and sororities have a tendency to be famous with preppy college understudies and going up against high position of authorities in student politics. They have high expectations.


As designers, we tend to create according to subculture attractions and we look into what their characteristics are but when looking into a subculture and identifying them as for who what and where they are you quickly realise that there are people in the norm that is attracted by some of these designs or colours. I agree with subculture styles and characteristics but I disagree with associating people that for instance wear black, is gothic, that is not the right statement to make, may beybe that that person wear black because it make her figure look smaller.

Designing for a particular subculture we focus on design work around that particular characteristic that attracts subculture. When looking at zef subculture there is allot that goes along with the subculture and when reading up about it they make it sound like al low class people are dressing and talking like they are but it’s not true and there is people making the best out of the circumstances they live in and prefer others to see them differently and not as they are associated with so they could take design work offended when focusing on something they have such as trailer in which they live.

It’s not to say if you wear a blazer and a pullover that you are preppie and we as designers design for the norm and what is trendy as well not just for subcultures. But people get so easily confused when you get for instance someone who has a variety of taste in clothes they wear everyday something els and in another style. It is not to say that person has to fall under a specific subculture or group. We create for everyone who is interested in the particular element we use and subcultures could sometimes get in the way or the association with subcultures could get lost in the design work.


Muggleton,D (2003). The Post – subcultures Reader. Retrieved from

Hodkinson,P (2002). Goth: Identity, Style, and Subculture. Retrieved from

Capitano,L (2010, April, 20) The Florida Times Union. Retrieved From

(2010) To Zef or not to zef, that is Die Antwoord. Cape Times. Retrieved from

Sotonoff,J (2004, April,13)  Preppy Fashions Are Making a Comeback This Spring. Daily Harold. Retrieved from

Milano, P ( 2006, January,10) Goth Boy’s parents in the Dark. Florida Times Union. Retrieved at

Scott, Claire.( 2012) Whiteness, a potential counter narrative. Critical arts. Vol.16 No.5. Retrieved at


Demographic partitions. 2014. Understanding Subcultures. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 3 March 2017].

GARETH GREGG. 2015. Zef Style. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 4 March 2017].

Alexis Borochoff. 2015. 15 Ways To Be Zef In South African Street Style. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 4 March 2017].

Critical Contextual Studies . 2013. The Preppy Subculture and its Transformation. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 5 March 2017].

The Threef. 2014. Preppy style. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 5 March 2017].

JOHNNY MANNAH. 2016. How to Rock Men’s Preppy Style. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 5 March 2017].

3 thoughts on “Sub-cultures within Design”

  1. I agree with your argument as well as the fact that we as designers do work for all sub cultures and feel that when we design we don’t only design for one sub culture but for all, as that is what design is all about.


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