Whether it's a fashion trend on TikTok or a certain style taking over Instagram, internet aesthetics are always changing online. Our new series 'Core Club breaks down the looks that you're starting to see a lot on social media and highlights the people and brands channeling it best. Next up: lovecore.
Valentine's Day feels like it was decades ago, but one internet aesthetic is keeping the holiday's spirit in style all year long. Lovecore, which has developed a cult following on Tumblr and TikTok, celebrates love through fashion, blending feminine aesthetics, such as cottagecore and the soft girl (think Lirika Matoshi's viral Strawberry Dress), with V-Day motifs like hearts and lace.
"Lovecore represents nostalgia and romance," says 20-year-old Sabrina, who runs Polymorphshop, a Depop store of curated thrifts alongside handcrafted jewelry, bags, and pins. Though she dreams of adding a few vintage Betsey Johnson pieces, the Massachusetts native's current favorite piece is a pink heart-printed Fiorucci trench coat. Some of her more eclectic finds include a hot pink, studded fringe top and a pattern-blocked red silk button-up. For her and many others in the lovecore community, what makes a piece fit the aesthetic's vibe is as much about the emotion it sparks as it is about its appearance. "It's about feeling the love from the pieces you wear," she says.
Having run the shop for just over a year, Sabrina noticed an increase in her sales since the start of the pandemic. "With people not being able to physically go thrifting, they're resorting to Depop," she explains, adding that the increase in active browsing has been beneficial for lovecore's rise from a niche keyword to a widely-used tag on the platform.
On TikTok, #lovecore has received more than 4 million views and counting, in large part to lovecore content creators making it one of the most positive spaces on the platform. Gwyn Pass, 21, from Eugene, Oregon, is one such creator. The fashion influencer, who uses the handle @verydumblonde, found out about the aesthetic a few weeks into quarantine. "Before I saw it [on TikTok], I thought my 'dream aesthetic' was just called Valentine's Day aesthetic," she tells NYLON. Matching her wardrobe to the aesthetic has required her to implement a system while shopping.
"My personal rule of thumb for clothing I buy now is if it isn't white, red, or pink, then it has to have a heart on it," she says, adding that her Lazy Oaf heart dress is a prime example. Pass' account is filled with videos showing off feminine 'fits in her ultra-pink room, where she talks about misadventures in law class, gives style advice, and covers all things Hello Kitty. It also turns out the lovecore community has a surprising amount of crossover with Sanrio's famous cutesy characters.
Sanriocore is a budding trend in its own right, influencing a number of larger communities, such as the kidcore and soft girl aesthetics. Polymorphshop offers a slew of Hello Kitty necklaces and bracelets, while the lovecore tag on Instagram brings up image after image of plush Sanrio characters with captions encouraging self-love and positivity, as well as sarcastic humor. Sanrio's newfound popularity stems from millennials' nostalgia for childhood characters and a new generation rediscovering the irresistible cuteness.
Of course, the dreamy jewelry of the lovecore aesthetic isn't all Hello Kitty-themed. Melissa from Los Angeles runs Luvkid, the preeminent Depop shop for ethereal, romantic accessories. The pieces feature cherubs, miniature roses, and plenty of pink bows. One particular standout — a pair of acrylic statement earrings — is made to look like the heart-shaped lollipops you probably received during your elementary school Valentine's Day card exchange. Melissa has been making jewelry since 2016, and the aesthetic has changed how they approach their creative process.
"From a design aspect, lovecore has me choosing heart shapes for every project imaginable, as well as staying within the red, pink, white color palette," they tell NYLON. "I'm trying to have each piece look like a literal Valentine's card." The ethos of lovecore extends to their personal philosophy, too. In Melissa's own words, "I will not sell a piece I don't enjoy. If no one else loves it, at least I do."
The pandemic has resulted in a dip in sales for Luvkid, though Melissa notes that the orders they have received are from customers "looking to indulge their romantic side" amidst the distance and isolation that have defined this year. Google Trends data for searches of "lovecore aesthetic" shows an all-time peak in interest in July of this year. That's part of the beauty of lovecore: In celebrating the energy and feeling of love well past Feb. 14, the aesthetic brings cheer to otherwise tumultuous times.
The appeal of lovecore isn't limited to its fashion. The aesthetic has found particular popularity among LGBTQ+ users on TikTok and Tumblr. "I spent my entire youth hating myself and the concept of hetero romance didn't interest me at all," shares 24-year-old Tumblr user femmesweetheart, who runs a blog dedicated to the aesthetic. "But after finding out I was a lesbian, I became obsessed with love in all of its forms." For her, that means baking heart-shaped cookies, listening to "La Vie En Rose," and wishing the best for others. Fellow user Sterling from Nova Scotia, Canada, echoes this sentiment. "Lovecore is about expressing who I am and reminding myself to try to spread love to those I cross paths with," he says.
Whether you decide to deck yourself out in red and pink every day, or simply adorn a regular outfit with some heart-shaped earrings, embracing lovecore is guaranteed to brighten up your wardrobe and your day. What's not to love about that?