Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Thoughts On: Hot Topic

Goths have a complicated relationship with Hot Topic. Or, rather, mixed anger and betrayal alleviated by the occasional awesome find. Many Goths old enough to have shopped there "back in the day" feel betrayed by the changing trends in Hot Topic and how mainstream much of the content of the store is. Or terrible the price to quality ratio which (though I might be biased as someone who prefers thrifting) is pretty much par for the course in most alternative shops and I've given up expecting any less.

Anyway.

Today as I was filling out summer job applications, I went to the Hot Topic career page (don't judge me, alright?) and found this little gem, their self-description:


Ah, yes, what could possibly be more edgy and rebellious than pop-culture? 

I remember, once upon an internet, a rumor being spread around that the CEO of Hot Topic had issued a statement that they would like to return Hot Topic to it's former spooky glory. I was initially skeptical of this sentiment, and even more so when  couldn't find a source to uphold it. Why? It doesn't make any sense in the slightest.

I'm not an economist (my senior year AP Economics teacher would probably attest to this), but even I'm aware that the basis for any business is to make money. So, Hot Topic has to do what would make it money. Returning to its roots as the angst-filled proto-Goth store would be bad for business because it narrows the possible appeal, especially when a recession has drastically lessened the spending power of teens and young adults. 

So the store is filled with edgy and rebellious Adventure Time shirts and My Little Pony nail polishes, but not much for spooksters. Or, is there? I tend to avoid Hot Topic's jewelry and regular clothing items, but one thing that Hot Topic is and has always been good at are t-shirts. Slightly on the expensive side, but in a wide variety of styles, some of them very gothy. Here are some that are available right now:




Dracula, Frankenstein, The Lost Boys, and The Crow? I'm on board with that.

So basically, what this tiny, rambling post is saying is that Hot Topic is doing its best to stay afloat as a business and there's no use crying into a tub of Ben&Jerrys about how Hot Topic dumped us. There's still stuff there that would work for Goths. How about a ouija board sticker, or a pair of jeans wth corset lacing up the front, Demonia boots, or a bird skull necklace? It's just that they've expanded their horizons to ensure that they exist at all. And I say that's their right as a business. 

Besides, it's not like most Goth's complaints about Hot Topic aren't without the caveat that you shouldn't shop there anyway, though, because you need to thrift EVERY THING THAT YOU OWN AND DIY THE REST OR SO HELP ME I WILL STUD YOUR FACE. There's some truth to this, but not a lot. If you want to avoid looking like everyone else and cultivate some rocking DIY skills, avoid Hot Topic if you can. But if you go into Hot Topic and see something you like and want to buy it, don't avoid it because Hot Topic isn't Goth enough. That's just silly. And you're going to miss out on t-shirts with Bela Lugosi's face on them. 

What do you all think about Hot Topic?

23 comments:

  1. I wasn't into the sort of paraphernalia the store sold back when I was an angsty teen (I didn't like the chain embellished pants, they seemed far away from my taste) so I couldn't care less for the hatred/obsession people had with the store. However one day I spotted a Siouxie shirt and I knew I could eagerly browse the store (specially the clearance rack) and find something nice.

    More recently:
    I used to work there a few years ago and I loved it. Even if Justin Beaver was playing loud from the speakers and many tweens were just knocking down merchandise for hours, there was a very welcoming atmosphere and surely being able to show my efforts as a worker with-out removing my piercings or colourful hair was truly glorious.
    I say, keep your staff happy and they'll increase sales by making happy costumers. :P

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  2. I don't shop much at Hot Topic, I'm more inclined to visit Torrid, their slightly larger-sized sister store, as they are still carrying more goth-type clothing (although not much more nowadays). However, I have bought a few things at HT and was very satisfied. Their jewelery is still quite spooky/gothy, at least in California. Late last year I found a great spiked collar and bracelet at my local HT, and the prices were excellent, both under $10 to start with (AND they were on sale)! I have to admit that their overall selection of goods is less gothy than it used to be, but there's still plenty there for us if we look carefully.

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  3. I did get my dress there for prom my junior year, but... for the past decade, I generally avoid except for the clearance racks. Got a sweet black lace dress with skulls in the lace pattern on clearance last time I was there. It's fairly well made (by HT standards at least) and oh so layerable. Also... uhm, I'm kinda a brony myself. I regret nothing! *shakes fist*

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  4. I don't mind the store that much. While I'm a little on the plus size, I can still buy some t-shirts of interest. Also, Hot Topic is a good place to buy accessories like fishnet gloves, chokers, and the like, for decent prices.

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  5. Wait hot topic has shirts with bela lugosi's face on it?

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  7. I love Hot Topic and I stock up on stuff like t-shirts, tights and novelty items every time I visit the States. The backlash doesn't bother me because I'm not from the USA, so anything I bring home from Hot Topic is very likely a unique item where I live (we don't have any stores like HT. At all) It does make me sad that they don't stock "edgier" items like they did in the 90s.

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  8. I forgot to mention that HT is one of the few places that a young person can find a job where you are encouraged to dress the way you like rather than being told to tone it down. I honestly feel like my sense of style would be much more developed now if I had had a job like that when I was young, rather than having to wear (and live) in a uniform.

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  9. They had a lot of good stuff when I was about 13-15 and then they just...changed avenues. At first I'll admit I was annoyed by this because I come originally from a small town and didn't have the Internet until I was 17 so it was my only resort for finding clothes more to my taste.

    But by the time I discovered the wonders of online shopping my tastes had changed such that it didn't matter anymore.

    I still go into HT more out of nostalgia than anything (and sometimes I actually find good things) but I'm definitely past the point of teen raeg at a company that's just doing what it's gotta do.

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  10. I agree with you. If Hot Topic continued to be the store parents were afraid to go into then they would be out of business. Yes I despise the Justin Bieber shirts. But kids buy that and as one employee said, "It makes money." I get my tights there and they do have really good sells. My recent purchase was a Slayer shirt and an Edward Scissor hands shirt. It used to anger me but then I started thrifting more and I grew up and got over it.

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  11. I enjoy Hot Topic.

    I buy from there every now and again (a few times a year), mostly when the major sales are on.

    I like some of the skirts they sell, and I stock up on certain make up products and fishnets I can't find elsewhere irl.

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  12. There are a lot of "what is this oh god no" things there, but once in while you find a gem amoungst the cheap tacky stuff

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  13. I've noticed that every Hot Topic's merchandise seems to vary by region or city. The Hot Topic at the mall of America has a lot of "mainstream" merch, but the one at the mall in my college town seems to consistently stock a wider array of Goth and Punk related items.

    So I guess it really depends. Because I'm on the cheap side, I do find most of it to be just a tad too expensive for me.

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  14. I used to shop at Hot Topic in the dark ages and a couple years ago I actually briefly worked there part time. It was honestly one of the funniest jobs I'd had, there were a few really great gothier things that would sometimes hit the store, especially accessories, and the stuff that was sold as online exclusives, I actually believe they had an "Old School Hot Topic" section on their site for a while that sold Tripp and Lip Service and stuff.

    It makes sense that they changed, considering I assume they even changed to be the goth store of the new millennium that they used to be, but it was still sort of sad to see how different things were. And it was sort of weird that there was still a ton of "leftover" stuff that is still popular, but wasn't really connected to what it used to be. Like we had a bunch of Gir stuff and this one kid came in and was super excited to see it, but explained it to her dad as "I don't know, this funny robot dog!" when he asked what it was. It was pretty weird to me to see that.

    When I had to quit my boss decorated one of the end caps with all the bat and skeleton necklaces and black gothy dresses in the store for me and I almost cried xD

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  15. I'm 51 and curvy. I love Hot Topic. I buy t-shirts, shoes, a Lily Munster purse, jewelry, and of course things for my 24 year old daughter. They used to carry my all-time favorite perfume ever, Reminiscent (sp?) by Lola Goth, and ours also used to carry makeup by Manic Panic. Ours also hasn't been carrying shoes lately. I have to order Tiger Army and Horror Pops merch from their online kiosk, but shipping is free if it goes to the store. It doesn't bother me that so much goth and rocker clothing has gone mainstream - you can still tweak things by adding your own custom touches.

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  16. I like that Crow tank top! Yeah it kinda sucks that there isn't quite as much Gothy clothing, but what I really miss is the days when they used to carry Goth magazines and those Projekt and Cleopatra Records compilation CDS. No other stores where I live sells Gothic Beauty or any other gothic mags, and those mix CDS are what introduced me to a lot of bands that I still like today!

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  17. I worked at Hot Topic when I was in college and will probably apply again when I move back to Florida in about a month... I am just as angry as any other goth over the shift in their inventory, but all I can say is that you have to pick the shiniest piece of crap sometimes! ha Not a pleasant view, but a truthful one. I like to DIY and thrift most of my clothing, but I realize that some people do not have the time or skill to do so or they live in an area where the thrift stores aren't worth wasting your time on. So they continue to check back with HT for the occasional statement piece or accessory and hope that it's on clearance. Same thing for working there, it is still retail but it's one of the few retail jobs where you can actually dress as goth as you want as well as choose the music you play in the store instead of dealing with a soundtrack on loop.

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  18. I worked at Hot Topic in 2000/2001. It was lame and overpriced then and it still is. I was "written up" for not dressing in the Hot Topic clothes, but at $7 an hour, how in the hell could I afford to?

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  19. I actually own the Crow shirt; I bought it on sale for $15, which I think is pretty reasonable consdidering how hard it is to find such a thing for anything less then that.
    I shop at Hot Topic sometimes, because among the piles of overprised tutus and band shirts of all the wrong bands you can sometimes find a decent thing there, maybe even for a good price if it's on sale.
    Other things I bought from Hot Topic as well include two pairs of leggings, one with a tombstone print and another with ravens and skulls for $10 and $5 each respectively; a cardigan for $12, a nice top with corset lacing for $15, and also acessories that were on sale for a good price. However, the majority of things are still overpriced and I wouldf not buy.

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  20. i liked it for the old Loli dresses and skirts, not its all for freaks andi hate freaks. i do trends bitch

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  21. i liked it for the old Loli dresses and skirts, not its all for freaks andi hate freaks. i do trends bitch

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