The Opium aesthetic is spreading like wildfire

Playboy Carti’s all black aesthetic enables eccentric self-expression

Image by: Herbert Wang
The Opium aesthetic was born out of a musical movement.

Music has long had a tight grip on current fashion trends. Today, the Opium aesthetic is taking over social media.

Opium was the record-label founded by Playboi Carti in 2019. It quickly signed well-known artists Destroy Lonely, Ken Carson, and Homixide Gang.

Musically, the Opium collective share a similar sound, with dark, gritty, and avant-garde synths mixed into a rage beat reminiscent of the ‘70s and ‘80s punk rock era. This experimental sound strays away from the current trap hip hop genre and has garnered its own cultlike fanbase.

Each artist embodies the Opium sound in the way they dress and present themselves, through both their street style and music videos. Artists don the style by appealing to all-black, heavy metal, punk, eccentric, non-conformist, horror, and vampire-esque aesthetics combined with anime imagery and fonts.

You’ve likely seen someone on campus, or an influencers on social media embodying the Opium look. The classic Opium fit features black boots, wide-legged baggy black pants, a silver-studded belt, and a tightly fitted black tank-top accessorized with silver biker jewelry.

While I adore the Opium look and believe it’s easily one of the best fashions trends this decade, I’m more interested in how the aesthetic gained popularity and appealed to such a high degree pf our generation.

Though the aesthetic first rose to fame in early 2020 following the release of the experimental rage and trap album Whole Lotta Red by Playboi Carti, the leak of Destroy Lonely’s “If Looks Could Kill” – the leading single from the album of the same name—was the real catalyst for the Opium aesthetic kicking off.

Fans of the label began posting themselves with Opium-style outfits to the song, inspiring others to do the same while raising the leaked track to number one on the charts.

To me, the reason the Opium aesthetic resonates with our generation is the deep need to be a part of something unique in a sea of normalcy which dominates contemporary culture.

Dressing in the Opium style allows emulation of rockstars to portray an unapologetic sense of rebellion and individuality. In a world where conformity is often encouraged, our generation craves a sense of uniqueness and self-expression, and Playboi Carti’s movement gives us a medium to do so in a distinct way.

Participating in the Opium aesthetic means a sense of belonging to a tight-knit, cult-like community. In an era where social media saturation has reached a tipping point, being part of a movement with a genuine sense of community offers a refreshing alternative.

The true power of Opium—not only in its experimental sound but also in its aesthetic—is the ability to make those who participate in it able to express themselves in an eccentric way and stand out from the ordinary.


opium, playboi carti, self expression

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