Meet VALLEY’s Spring 2024 Fashion Section Opener: Ayden Herold

Photo by Shana Andrews

Ayden Herold is wearing what can only be described as a quintessential goth outfit. From his Doc Martens to his bone-patterned sweater, he takes pride in his style and individuality. He didn’t always find it easy to stand out, but nowadays, he encourages others to break out of their shell and express themselves.

“Growing up, I was very boyish and nerdy. I did not care at all about what I wore,” Herold says.

He spent a good deal of his childhood writing, watching movies and reading various novels. When his inner goth first appeared, he attributed it to his love for Edgar Allen Poe and how his grandfather, a medical examiner, would bring him and his brother to a cadaver room on occasion. 

His gradual style transformation began with his hair, in a way fitting to the chaos of 2020. After losing a bet, one of Herold’s friends got to dye his hair blue. He eventually dyed it back to its natural brown, but he says that the change taught him to “not be afraid of doing something different with your look.”

When he started to dress in the goth aesthetic, it took a while for his now punk, fearless attitude to appear. At first, he was apprehensive to dress in a way that broke social and gender norms. However, when he attended his first “emo night,” he was inspired.

“I saw so many people there that were dressed how they wanted to be, and they stood out so well. They were so striking.” 

Ayden Herold

Herold is now the active president of Penn State Goths. Every aspect of his outfit shows intricacy that is meticulously styled, down to the pieces of jewelry he layered. Separate from his many silver rings, his beaded bracelets were created by the club’s secretary, Anna George. 

For his wardrobe essentials, Herold frequents the thrift stores around State College. They are a place of refuge for him, where he can use both his imagination and creativity. 

One time, Herold found a certain hat from a thrift store that he, unfortunately, missed out on — a baseball cap embroidered with text from a fisherman convention in the 1960s. This particular item was striking not only because it was vintage, but also because he said he deeply felt it was made just for him.

“It’s just fun to look around and see what people have discarded and what you can breathe new life into,” he says.

At first glance, the goth aesthetic can appear dark and gloomy to outsiders, but Herold claims that isn’t the central focus of the culture. 

“Goth is simply about embracing the things that make you unique and different from everyone else.”

Ayden Herold

Goth style transcends gender norms of clothing and accessories. Herold dressed up last Halloween as Gerard Way, the lead singer of the rock band: My Chemical Romance. He collected pieces for his black suit and red tie ensemble from various thrift stores. 

As a frequent thrifter, he did not pay any attention to the gender labels on each section of the store. After he dressed up in his suit, one of his friends told him the suit jacket he styled was a women’s jacket.

“It doesn’t matter where you look for your clothes, where [the piece is] assigned or arguably even what it is,” Herold says. “If you look good and feel good in it, then it’s you.” 

Apart from his friends, the members of the goth club and the local alternative scene, Herold gets inspiration for his looks, and more importantly, his attitude, from some of his favorite musicians.

David Bowie, Kurt Cobain and Robert Smith are a few of the many style icons he looks up to. “They just wanted to express themselves in a way that made them feel confident, so I think that’s why they were so iconic,” Herold says. 

Goth culture is for the individuals who are capable of fully expressing themselves, and Herold is no exception. For those who aren’t sure how to find their own unique style, he says,

“Be fearless. Don’t be afraid to experiment because that’s the only way you can find out what looks good on you. You never know what’s going to stick.”

Ayden Herold

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