What is the difference between Steampunk and DieselPunk?

It is time to discuss the big question. What is the difference bewteen Dieselpunk and Steampunk?

These two concepts coexist and generally advocate the same vision and philosophy, combining non-conformism, singularity, and creativity.

Nevertheless, divergences exist between these two alternative cultures. Suppose you want to adopt one of these two styles in particular. In that case, this article will help you to know how to define a garment, an accessory, or a piece of jewelry in Dieselpunk or Steampunk fashion.

Let's take a look today at these two futuristic retro universes!


dieselpunk world

Dieselpunk is directly derived from Steampunk. Sometimes mistakenly named "Diesel Steampunk", this retro-futuristic genre appeared in 2001 in a famous role-playing game "Children of the Sun" published by Lewis Pollack. Lewis wanted to define his game with a new genre, because he couldn't find an existing genre that matched the atmosphere and mood of his creation.

Dieselpunk covers the period between World War I and the early 1950s. Dieselpunk's style, technology, architecture, and everything else that defines it is inspired by this particular period in history. Below is an example of a remarkably realistic and worked Dieselpunk man.

dieselpunk man

The themes and inspirations of Dieselpunk are generally the following:

  • Arms race and insane technological development around weapons and military defenses. This is mainly due to the period in which Dieselpunk evolves. This period is favorable to the development of firearms and the protection of its territory.
  • Excessive development of space crafts, which can also be found in spacepunk.
  • Development of transportation and different technologies based on diesel and gasoline.
  • The fear of communism and the incessant contempt towards this political organization.
  • The nuclear development, symbol of power and authority.
  • The potentiality of a third world war, which remains anchored in the minds of Dieselpunkers.

As you can see, this genre is obsessed with scientific and technical development, in the broadest sense of the term, thanks to the Diesel technology predominant between the two wars. The doctrine of the Third Reich is very present and dramatically influences the Dieselpunk Aesthetic.

This anachronistic universe is expressed through different means such as art, culture, fashion, architecture, decoration, cinema, literature....

As for Steampunk, Cyberpunk, or all the punk subcultures, the term "punk" refers to the non-conformist aspect of this genre, which opposes contemporary development and rejects the established values.


steampunk world

Steampunk is generally better known to the general public. It is a sub-genre of science fiction that consists of playing with the past, by reappropriating the history of the end of the 19th century in a creative and alternative way.

Steampunk draws its inspiration from the middle of the industrial revolution, during the Victorian era in the United Kingdom. This era is marked by the reign of Queen Victoria, who will significantly influence the fashion and clothing trends of the time.

The Steampunk aesthetic combines the retro vintage of Victorian fashion with the futurism imagined by the great scientists of the time, such as Jules Verne and Georges Mélies. Steam technology dominates the world order.

This genre is also expressed through art, architecture, fashion, decoration, movies, and literature. The philosophy of Steampunk remains focused on creativity, non-conformism, and the uniqueness of its creations. Imagination dominates all Steampunk designs, inventions, and fabrications.

Hence this famous expression "Steampunk thrives in futures that never existed and in pasts that might have been".

Facts from a historical starting point inspire both Steampunk and DieselPunk. Nevertheless, the content, the era, the style, and the origins of this Dieselpunk imaginary are pretty different from Steampunk.


Let's take a closer look at the differences between Steampunk vs Dieselpunk. As previously defined, the philosophy is similar because it corresponds to the global vision of punk. But significant differences exist between these two universes. 

Differences in their origin

Dieselpunk has its origins in a dark world dominated by war, the military, nuclear development, and global uncertainty about the future. The period between 1920 and 1950 does not have the same ambitious atmosphere as the Victorian period, which marks the peak of the industrial revolution.

Compared to Steampunk, the British like to say the following about Dieselpunk: "Because steam just wasn't dirty enough".

Differences in technology

The starting point of Dieselpunk is the end of the First World War. At that time, the diesel engine was the major technological advance. Dieselpunk uses this historical reality to imagine a future developed from this energy source.

Therefore, cars and motorcycles are very much implanted in Dieselpunk stories. Planes, robots, and weapons are also predominant. If you want to see Dieselpunk worlds, we invite you to watch historical noir films, such as "Captain Sky and the World Of Tomorrow" or "Metropolis."

On the other hand, Steampunk draws its inspiration from the industrial revolution and imagines a future developed based on steam technology. Contrary to Dieselpunk, cars and planes are often in the background and leave room for trains and zeppelin-type airships.

if you want to have an idea about how a steampunk world looks like, you can read "20,000 leagues under the sea" by Jules Vernes, or more recently Wild Wild West. This Hollywood movie highlights Steampunk and, more specifically, Western Punk.

Differences in clothing style


The Dieselpunk style of dress is inspired by the combat uniforms of the First and Second World Wars. A Dieselpunk outfit often consists of an old leather jacket, a war helmet, a gas mask, and a complete set of weaponry, symbolic of the Dieselpunk climate.

Some enthusiasts prefer to stay true to history by dressing up in historical British or German army uniforms. Others prefer to live this passion by creating their own style and incorporating retro-futuristic elements. Everyone is free to express their creativity in their own way.

More generally, if you are a fan of the 1920 - 1940 period and regularly incorporate accessories from that era into your outfits, you can consider yourself Dieselpunk ✔️

More popular and well-known, the Steampunk style nurtures deep ties to Victorian, Gothic, and, more generally, Punk fashion. A Steampunk outfit, for men or women, usually consists of:

  • A top hat,
  • A pair of welding glasses or vintage sunglasses,
  • Jewelry with gears and mechanical cogs,
  • A retro corset,
  • A Victorian shirt,
  • A long brown or black jacket or coat
  • A dress for women or a pair of trousers/jeans for men.


Like cyberpunk, atompunk or steampunk, dieselpunk is not just about a particular style. It highlights a non-conformist, revolutionary, and protesting vision and refuses to follow the precepts of higher authorities.

You can now make the difference between Dieselpunk and Steampunk and understand the foundations that link these two worlds. Feel free to visit our online store to create a wardrobe that is unique and true to your personality!

Many "punk" trends exist and are all as fascinating. If you're curious and want to know more about them, don't hesitate to visit our blog post outlining the differences between steampunk and cyberpunk. Cyberpunk is full of surprises and will take you to a completely different world than Dieselpunk! 

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