Hot Topic: the perfect store for Goths

October 16, 2021

HOT TOPIC is a retail chain specializing in counterculture-related clothing and accessories, as well as licensed music. 

Hot Topic’s has 616 retails stores across the United States.

The world has always been full of sub-cultures. For example, beatniks, jazz artists, geeks, punks, Trekkies and hippies, all have their own sub-culture. Each sub-culture has its own vocabulary, clothing styles and beliefs. Some are more conspicuous than others, goths and skinheads, for example.

In November 1989, Orv Madden opened his first Hot Topic store in Montclair Plaza, Montclair, California.

As alternative and pop cultural trends change, so too does Hot Topic. From Goth and Lolita to cosplay and geeks, Hot Topic is always the go-to place for the latest sub-culture styles.

In the 1990s through to the early 2000s, Hot Topic marketed a broad assortment of merchandise relating to bands, as well as the controversial styles of phat pants-inspired bondage pants.

As we moved into the 2000s, the store focused on skinny jeans and hardcore punk music and fashion. Spiky chokers and other goth clothing styles became popular Hot Topic products as well as everything related to Harry Potter.

Today, the store’s broad focus is on licensed video games, Anime, Manga and Japanese films products related to the otaku subculture.

Madden, formerly an executive at The Children’s Place, retired as CEO of Hot Topic in 2000 and was replaced by Betsy McLaughlin. In 2011, Lisa Harper assumed the position of CEO and in March 2016 Steve Vranes became the CEO.

The company went public and began trading on NASDAQ in 1996.

Hot Topic was sold to private equity firm
Sycamore Partners in 2013 for $600 million.

In 2015, Hot Topic launched Torrid, selling plus-size clothing for women.

Shockhound, an online retailer and social networking music site was launched by Hot Topic in 2008, but shut down in 2011. All of the merchandise was moved to HotTopic.com.

In August 2010, Hot Topic opened its first two international stores in Mississauga and Toronto, both in Ontario, Canada. Since then, the company has opened additional locations in Canada and Puerto Rico.

With a focus on lingerie for women, Hot Topic opened Blackheart Lingerie in 2012.

In October 2015, Hot Topic launched a gift and novelty store called BoxLunch. For every $10 spent, a meal is donated to a person in need.

Hot Topic has sponsored numerous concert tours, including the 2004 Ozzfest; the 2005 through 2007 Sounds of the Underground; the 2008 Taste of Chaos; and had a stage at and sponsored the 2008 and 2009 Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhen Festival tours; and in 2014, Black Veil Brides Black Mass tour. 

Gloria Sauvé
Communications and Marketing

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