Goth Industrial Fetish fashion & clothing in Vancouver, BC. Alternative Boutiques, Gothic Industrial nightclubs.
Saturday, February 19th, 2011 by La Carmina
I’m from Vancouver, Canada — yes, La Carmina is a proud Canadian! But I ran away to New York City after high school, so I never got to experience much of my hometown’s Goth scene.
So when a local alternative clothing boutique, Deadly Couture, invited to come play dress up, it was an offer I couldn’t refuse. (I learned that the store carries a big selection of Lip Service, and that LS is hugely popular among Vancouver Goths!)
I met a lovely, bubbly pink-haired lady named Tracy, who was sprinkling fairy dust all over Vancouver’s Goth/alt subculture scene. Who better to interview about the city’s dark fashion? Read on to learn about the evolution of Gothic and alternative fashion in Vancouver, Canada! Watermarked photos are by Michael R. Barrick (“Atratus”) from Gothic BC.
- Let’s start with an intro! Who are you, and what you do?
My name is Tracy Rodger, and I am a stylist & makeup artist living and working in beautiful Vancouver, BC, Canada. You can find me on Mondays & Tuesdays working at the Deadly Couture boutique in historic Gastown… I am fairly new on the scene, 3 years approx., and make my living in the local Maritime Industry (but that’s for another interview… ^_~), but I am a passionate student of all things Alternative & Fashion and really try to put my all into the work that I am given. I’ve organized and run a few fashion shows for the boutique. I love to help people feel Sexy & Confident, and it’s my mission to bring out the inner Freak in all of us… <3
- How did you first become interested and involved in Goth / Underground fashion and subcultures in Vancouver?
Well I grew up in North Vancouver, and was always a little bit of a punk, riding the bus downtown as a teen to Granville street to buy hair dye and studded collars at “The Underground” boutique (RIP). (La Carmina’s note: I did the very same as a teenager.) My fashion hunting skills evolved as I graduated high school and started Marine College and a life at sea. Then I had the opportunity to travel internationally and get ashore in random places where I would tourist, get tattooed, and seek out the local street style, always my favourite part!! I love to shop, and picking up items that were inspiring to me from those places was a huge thrill of that life.
I finally settled as a landlubber back in Vancouver a number of years ago and met up with a old friend who introduced me to Sin City, a fashionable fetish club night in Vancouver… and that was the beginning of my LOVE for all things freaky, sexy, & alternative. After that, I went out 3 times a week, at LEAST, for the first year 1/2 to all the Goth/Industrial/Fetish/Burlesque/Metal/Rock/Alternative nights I could get my hands on, I hadn’t been ashore in one place for so long, Ever!!
I ended up befriending the owner of Deadly Couture, Miss Jenni Wong, and eventually started working/volunteering for clothes to flesh out my wardrobe for my many adventures about town. There’s a different outfit & style to fit the million types of events, and inspired by it all, I love to work at the Boutique where you can find clothes you love to rock out!
The more I meet people in this city’s darker night life, the more shades of “goth/underground” become apparent. It’s more relevant to say that with all the subcultures we do have, we are really united by one thing, being Alternative.
- Can you tell me how the Gothic scene in Vancouver originated and evolved? Are there aspects that are distinct to the scene?
Well, I can tell you what I know, but really all you’d have to do is come out to one of the many “goth” club nights in the City and ask one of the regulars, lurking at the pools table usually, who’ve been coming out since day 1 and they’ll be happy to tell you, mind the fangs… ^_~ I would say that the “Goth Scene” centers around the couple of clubs that us freaks gather at to dance, on a weekly basis.
But in the late ’70s, early ’80s, things really got started in Vancouver with LUVAFAIR, originally a gay disco attracting alternative artsy types. The venue turned out to be THE place to party to New Wave, Punk, etc., anything other than the top 40 of the day. You could be dressed goth, punk or in full drag and that was the club you mixed & mingled at. It continues on in spirit today, but has transformed into hosting special events that cater to the fashion elite, mixing fashion, art, and music all into fun, glamorous, and charitable events that are attended by the fashion industry types (Luv n’ Grace Entertainment).
After meeting up with similar types at Luvafair, Sanctuary was formed. * Est. 1997! And continues to be the place for Goth/Underground clubbing scene & fashion to mix. “Sanctuary is the longest-running night in the city devoted to underground and alternative music and culture since Day One, and the second longest running night in the city overall, keeping Vancouver freaky for 12 solid years to date! Come dressed to the 9′s in your swankiest or freakiest gear or come casual, and join the weekly worship – whether it’s the simple experience of the music you’re after, heavy consumption or incessant dancing, this is the best kept secret in town! This is the -real- dance underground, drawing simultaneously from the heavier and more electronic genres and rejecting the tired tunes of the mainstream, and delivering a mix of favourite classics and fat new tunes.” ~DJ Pandemonium, Restricted Entertainment & Sanctuary Founder.
It continues to be the “Sanctuary” for the darker types among the alternative crowd, and consistently puts out great themed parties too, like the popular Sci-Fi Night (for our inner nerdy needs!), or the White Party (Ever seen a goth in all white? How about 200 of them under black light?). The themed decor is always top notch as the Promoter’s day job is in Set Decoration for the Film & TV Industry. We’re spoiled in Vancouver by great talents all putting together this night from the decor to the photo booth, to, of course, the Dj’s who always throw down a stompy great time! Dress to Impress, whatever your alternative style bent, and you’ll contribute to a great night out.
Even for a relatively small city, we’re lucky to have a few options to wear our Freaky Fashions out to. There is now also a weekly goth/industrial night, Descent Sundays, who spawned out of a move by Sanctuary to a different Venue and from a Sunday to a Friday (now alternating Saturdays), leaving a space open where people still wanted to party. Descent has been holding down Sunday nights at the Red Room Ultra Bar for a number of years now, and as their website says: “With wicked music, great people, awesome drink specials, and cheap cover, you’ll come to know why we say, To HELL with Monday!” We locals consider it “Family Dinner” night, and while not the hugest night out, you’re sure to run in to someone you know, and it’s a great place to dress however you want that week, goths in ball-gowns and metal heads in jeans are spotted weekly.
I think one thing that makes our scene distinct is the large cross over with other alternative communities, notably the fetish & burlesque communities. The scene in Vancouver is relatively large if you include all alternative types, but there are not that many venues catering to them so you really interact with all types at various events. You can come to Goth night and see a few of the local Sweet Soul Burlesque girls on stage performing their darker routines, and then see the of Goth girls out at the weekly Kitty Nights Burlesque show. There’s even a whole Goth-esque troupe called Bloody Betty’s Burlesque who are freaky bloody sexy messy girls on stage, as the name suggests.
And what to say about Sin City Fetish Night?! Dress Code Enforced! This fetish night is a great mix of regular kinksters and freaky alternative types come out to dress up & play. Tons of cross over with the Goth community of this city, it’s a night for all Freaky People to get in to their sexiest Kit and get their party on. Best Place to dance topless in the city, if that’s your sort of thing… ^_~ and winner of the Vancouver Nightlife Awards Event of the Year in 2010, beating out Deadmau5’s event even! Fetish and Goth Fashion really push each other forward here. Dress to Sexpress yourself and definitely rip it up in the cages if you dare!!
- How would you describe Gothic fashion in Vancouver? Has it changed over the years?
I would say that the gothic fashion here firmly has its roots in traditional American gothic style as Shrine jackets are always a coveted fashion item. The major outfitter of the scene is Lip Service. Everyone has a large portion of their Goth necessities made by LS. We don’t have any major retailers of alternative fashion, so boutique hopping, online shopping and trips South across the US border are norms when hunting for that unique look.
However, we are an ever evolving scene, very broadly influenced, and are open to combining looks into something uniquely Vancouver. We look West to the UK and Europe for dressier looks, and the Steam-Punk movement has help to reinvigorate the more traditional Gothic Victorian, Edwardian, vintage, etc fashion looks, with people being cross-inspired by it. Cyber styles are also a staple! And with all the latex making such a crossover from the Fetish scene, cyber looks evolve too.
Looking East, We’re also lucky to have close ties to Japan, and the Asian influence in alternative fashion is very strongly seen in Vancouver. Lolita and JRock crossover looks are definitely huge here, with the “Creepy Doll” themed Sanctuary Goth night, bringing out the fluffy dresses in droves. I think it’s really the eastern spirit to create unique over the top looks that influences Vancouver fashion.
Also, there is a lot of Pin-Up inspired fashion both in Sweet & Goth styles, and our girls love their actual Vintage finds! There’s a lot of people who rock the more stompy Industrial style too, as usually seen on the dance floors going through their Demonia Boots on a monthly basis. Then there’s the Rockers, fashion from Goth, Punk, Rockabilly/Psychobilly, Indie, Metal, to Grungy Glamsters, this city likes its “Rock”! I think our scene is lucky to be in the middle of things, and will continue to evolve as we have the benefit of options, and influxes of new people and ideas. We really aren’t afraid to sample what the other alternative types are up to, from fashion shows, to club nights, to art gallery openings. I get inspired most by the people out and about at events who are spinning their own look, the unicorns.
Candid shot Backstage, before the Love, Sex, & Industrial fashion show for Deadly Couture
- Can you recommend some Vancouver-based Gothic clothing brands, designers and shops?
Yes for sure! Well, of course come visit me at Deadly Couture’s boutique for our in-house Corsets and Cinchers, a staple I think! (Goth, Alt, Lolita, Latex, Fetish club & day wear) We’re also expanding our in house line to include Latex garments & accessories from Deadly Dichotomy Designs. While you are in the Gastown Neighbourhood, be sure to check out New World Designs (Pin-up & Goth), Venus & Mars (Goth & Renaissance-Faire inspired), Hitz Boutique (Skate & Day Alt wear, Iron Fist, etc.), and wander up Granville Street for the Newly re-Opened Millennium Boutique (Goth day & club wear). Flaming Angels is also a local brand with a store on Main Street selling locally made goth & pinup inspired clothes & accessories. Melons & Sweet Cheeks brand is the best local place to get your PVC Bullet Bra needs. Also check out Scout Boutique for more classic pinup and rock styles, some locally made notably by Misty Greer’s Trunkshow, and shop Lace Embrace Atelier for beautiful and classic corsets made locally.
Candid shot Backstage, lining up for Candyland Fashion show for Deadly Couture
- What is the Vancouver club scene like? What are your favorite places? Where can you find the best fashion?
Eep, I kinda answered already above, but to summarize, the Goth/Alternative Vancouver Club scene is very vibrant and has great party atmosphere, welcoming to new people and ideas, and there’s enough locals who’ve been out since the beginning to give the scene a grounding and history. Show up in your Gothic/Alt best to Sanctuary, and for Decent, dress up or down as you feel inspired to, But show up in your sexiest dark gear to Sin City for a great night of fetish fashion eye candy. I’m at all of them regularly, and parked next to the dance floor usually.
Photo by Jamie Shutterbug Coles. Summer Goth, at the 2010 Pride Parade, in full Moustaches
- What do you predict for the dark fashion / scene in Vancouver? Is it growing, changing?
There’s a lot of artistic talent in this town, and I think it shows in the fashion, makeup, & styling that people put together week after week. It’s literally taken me Years to get to recognize some people who come out regularly because they change their look drastically from event to event. I think there will be a lot more expansion in the area of Latex fashion and we’ll be seeing how it mixes with traditional fabrics and crosses over into more everyday dark club wear. It’s not just for fetish models in glam magazines anymore! The people in Vancouver themselves aren’t always happy being labelled or pigeonholed as one style, and are interested to combine elements of different fashion ideas into their own, or simply to dress up in different genres as the mood suits. It is growing and changing every year, just come check out one of Restricted Entertainment’s fashion forward events like the Candyland or Wild Kingdom parties in 2010 to have a taste of what’s next.
Lastly, I highly recommend checking out GothicBC, “ a resource for Goths and like-minded bohemians, artists, musicians, etc. from Victoria to Fort St. John. Promoters and patrons of B.C. events can upload pictures to the photo gallery to showcase these events.” It is, In my opinion, the best source of Vancouver’s current Goth/Underground/Fetish fashion inspiration, hosting all the professional photos taken at various local Goth & Alternative events. Spend some time looking through those galleries to get a good taste of the broad range of Dark Fashion in this city.
You can see that both Tracy and I are fans of Lip Service’s Sassy Sailor dress! I wore the skimpy costume to an Anime Burlesque night in Los Angeles, where girls dressed as Sailor Moon and Pikachu took of their clothes. Here are more photos from the night.
Lots of great news lately… I’ve begun to write for Huffington Post Travel and Style. My Huff Post blog is now up — will you kindly “Like” and “Fan” it? Pretty please?
I also have several exciting TV hosting projects in the works, was profiled for a Spanish Coolhunting book, and am currently in a Norway TV commercial (the program airs Feb 25th on NRK).
Finally, Sebastiano and I are helping the NOH8 Campaign go to Japan for the very first time! We did a shoot for the campaign, which fights hate and inequality, and are very excited to be spreading the message worldwide.
To keep track of my latest travels and spooky adventures, please visit La Carmina blog – I update daily, with plenty of Goth fashion photos!
† Dark Wishes †