Dark Academia

A Deep Dive into a Millennial and Gen Z-powered TikTok Trend Emerging as One of the Most Significant Aesthetic Influences of the 2020s

Daniel Lawson
7 min readJan 25


Photo by Giammarco Boscaro on Unsplash

In recent years, the minimalist “greige” look that was popular in the 2010s and early 2020s has been eroded by a trend that feels aesthetically deeper, much darker and more historically rooted.

The Dark Academia trend has seen a recent rise in popularity among Millennials and Gen Z, as they seek to incorporate a sense of history and intellectualism into their homes and personal styles. Dark Academia is rooted in a fascination with classical and gothic architecture, Ivy League university campuses, and draws inspiration from pre-Raphaelite art and literature.

Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

Characterized by dark, saturated colors, vintage and antique elements, and an emphasis on knowledge and learning, the trend has been embraced by many young people as a way to express their love for learning and a desire for historical rootedness.

The origins of the Dark Academia aesthetic can be traced back to the gothic and romantic movements of the 19th century, which honored the beauty and mystery of the past. The Pre-Raphaelite movement celebrated the beauty of the natural world and the human form.

Photo by Birmingham Museums Trust on Unsplash

Dark Academia is replete with references to classical and gothic architecture. This can be seen in the use of ornate details, such as arches and columns, as well as the use of deep jewel tone colors in reds, greens, golds, purples and blues.



Daniel Lawson

Human for the sake of being human; trying every day to be a better human