The Steampunk Empire

The Crossroads of the Aether

Hey gang,
I was trying to explain steampunk to my dad over the Thanksgiving break, and I thought it did it quite well. However, his number one question was "Why does everyone where goggles?" I've heard this asked before and was curious how fellow steamers respond to this question. I say because it an "oh shiny" and a trademark, much like a Jedi and his lightsaber. My dad argued this with (after much laugher on my part) that Jedi is a singular occupation, while steampunk encompasses a plethora of jobs, most not requiring eye protection.

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I got my first set of goggles back in 1993 when I started attending local industrial shows. I was the only one who was wearing them at the time; probably because you could only find them at actual welding supply stores, not at the regular hardware stores. I had to go to three different places before they had a pair.

The little raver/club kids made goggles cliche' and passe' WAY before steampunk gathered any steam momentum.
Down with Ravers!
The unexpected is my response! Perfect example, over the summer my family and I took a vaction to the local beach for the weekend. One of the days a rather large unexpected storm front came in and brought the very winds of hell. While people were running for cover and hiding their eyes I, being the prepared one, flipped my goggles down over my eyes and enjoyed the winds and storm to their full splendidness, while keeping the sands out of my eyes..
So ... the unexpected.
I agree with Phineas on this one. Googles were worn by early century motorists and aviators to keep debris from the eyes when traveling. If your main means of travel is by airship, why wouldn't you have goggles??
Honestly? I think the trend stemmed from 19th century airship pilots who would undoubtably need to wear these; everyone then basically started mimicking it as the recognizable style. Same as how everything is adorned with wings. Those just scream Steampunk, don't they? It's an imaginative and creative styling, yet there are certain elements that most folks feel the need to incorporate in order to make sure their look is recognizable.

Recognizable, this is the key element.

Personally? I would like to see more gear geared towards what makes an outfit steampunk. Not just a pair of goggles or something that looks victorian, but the devices and gadgetry that makes it unique and functional. This is what we are aiming towards in our next upcoming costumry.
Seriously...the Steampunk subculture owes this fad to Cyberpunk with its futurist/virtual reality sci-fi way with wearing shades to look cool. We can say the wearing of goggles for technology is more apt for Deiselpunk in an historical sense with early aviators, dirigible sailors and motorcar drivers with the internal combustion engine etc. The Golden Age of Aviation. It has simply be extended back in time...the combination of the old with the new in fashion...the soul motive of the steampunk (and deiselpunk) aesthetic/subculture.
And while we are listing "punk" fashion groups don't forget "Post-Apocalyptic Punk" (one of my personal faves) weren't there quite a few goggle wearers in both "Water World" and in all of the "Road Warrior" movies?
Also where does "Tank Girl" (one of my least favorite movies of all time. Just cannot watch that actress for more than 5 minutes) fall in this?
When you have actually worked around steam engines (trains, powerplant) you learn to love your eyegear. Simple. And well, yes- the occaisonal fragment is an added issue.
I would want to start by hoping that the lines aren't blurred too much between the fantasy and real world regarding this discussion but lets look at it this way; for the fantasy part of this question it would make a great deal of sense to quote from Zee by saying "To think it has to do with the fact steam punk originated from a period reflective of the heavy industry of the steam age. Most people who were not wealthy or extremely poor worked in a factory or some industrialized job, and goggles were a very common accessory." Taking this part of Zee's argument and adding that steam, diesel, kerosene, gasoline and other fuels were pumped out into the atmosphere with no regard to pollution and/or environment. The skies in a lot of steam punk art shows that the heavens are thick with soot, smoke and what appears to be other impurities which makes me believe that goggles weren't a luxury as opposed to a necessary part of standard equipment. Now as for any embellishment, it could be occupational and that's just a simple out for me.
Look towards the sky,
Capt. James Antilles Rhedd
The Devils Chariot
There is an interview with captain robert from abney park that I can't locate currently, where he is asked this question and he replies "Well I've just taken a break from my adventure, as soon as I'm done talking to you I have to get back to my adventure, and I'm going to have to protect my eyes."

Anyway, why do country singers wear cowboy hats, if they aren't outside, and aren't even going go riding any time soon? Its a fashion statement. It says "I AM STEAMPUNK!"

To sum it up, the real question is, why WOULDN'T you need goggles?
A good point but at one time it was necessary to wear wide brim hats, leather vests and big handkerchiefs for face protection now its now tradition but it came from somewhere and that was the topic.
yes, I don't disagree with you at all.


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