I've never been to America. So when I first found out (via the internets, of course) that America has an actual chain of Goth-friendly shops in almost every single one of its malls, I was actually quite thrilled. Now, I know that most Ameri-Goths think of the fabled Hot Topic as poseur's heaven, but for those of us who live in Suburbia, England, the thought of being able to walk into any given shopping centre and buy Gothic Beauty (instead of paying a huge amount of postage to have it air-mailed), Bauhaus T-shirts (surprisingly scarce around here, considering they were an ENGLISH band), and BEGoth dolls filled me with excitement and squee-ings. But, poseur-ish or not, Hot Topic may not be around - at least, not in its current Gothy incarnation - for very much longer.
I quote: "Over the past decade, Hot Topic's customer base has dwindled. The chain had carved out a niche for itself in the mall as the store for goths, loosely defined as anemic teenagers who dressed in black and listened to The Cure. It sold music, clothes, cheap accessories, and the idea that shopping at a national chain store in a suburban shopping mall could still be rebellious, so long as they turned the stereo up loud enough. It was the store that employed pierced young people, perhaps with dangerous-looking tattoos, who my mom was afraid to talk to. Then fickle teenagers began gravitating toward more preppy styles, like Juicy Couture sweatsuits, or urban apparel such as designer sneakers. The economy boomed, and fashion felt flush. Hot Topic sales slumped, even losing money during some quarters. The chain tried to turn the tide by hiring young buyers to troll rock clubs for the latest styles, the newest bands. It offered up its stores as a performance space for local musicians. It painted the walls a lighter color in an effort to dispel its dark image. Nobody really noticed." (From How The Twilight Franchise Saved Hot Topic.)
And then a recent news article (which I haven't been able to find since) claimed that HT has 'promised' to do away with its dwindling Goth clothing ranges, and become a mainstream store.
Now, I'm sure many of you are reading this and thinking variations on 'thank God, it's about time. Now angsty pre-teens won't be able to buy their HT-branded Goth-In-A-Box kits and might have to actually put some thought into their Goth look'. But hold your horses. If Goth is no longer an 'easy option' for teen rebels, then mallgoth populations will also dwindle. Still no bad thing? Well, we were all mallgoths once (yikes!), but, like so many of the Hot Topic babygoths, we grew up, discovered 'Real Goth (TM)', and so the Goth scene grew bigger and continued to thrive. Without a continuing supply of babybats in swirly eyeliner, will the subculture continue to grow - or will it die out?
Plus, the mainstream shows its appreciation (and slowly-growing acceptance) by attempts to imitate and assimilate. Without Hot Topic's Goth image, our scene stands to lose a large part of the mainstream acceptance it has begun to gain.
However, since HT has been suffering a drop in mallgoths bringing their pocket money to spend, perhaps the black-clad Mansonite herd have simply taken their custom elsewhere. The Goth subculture thrived in the 80s without even a sniff of commercial acceptance - perhaps it would be no bad thing if we had to do so again.
Listening to: Get Fucked - Raggedy Angry