The above photo has been making the rounds on the internet for the past few days. Somebody took the photo in a store called Box Lunch in a mall. Said store is owned by Hot Topic, which really shouldn’t come as a surprise since that company has had a reputation for profiting off of subcultures for about 30 years now. The thing that bothers me the most about this is that people are going to buy these atrocities without listening or even knowing about the bands painted upon them.
The first thing you notice about this jacket is that Agent Orange is shorted to Agent Ora and Dr. Know is changed to RX Know. Oh, and they messed up the name of Chaos UK. I don’t know if it was done out of pure laziness or that they didn’t want to be sued by said bands, but they got the names of the other bands correct so I’m guessing that they don’t really care about the whole getting sued thing. Somebody, in some factory in China or elsewhere, was told what to stencil so they probably had no clue that they were real bands. They have been exploited by whomever came up with this crap. Yes, I see the irony of using the word ‘exploited’.
I guarantee that people who buy this thing are going to get shit for wearing it when somebody goes up to them and wants to talk about the bands on it. It’s exciting to see somebody wear the merch of a band that you really like, and more exciting to have a discussion about them. However when these people are innocently asked about what their favourite band is on the jacket their eyes will glaze over in a panic because they didn’t realize that the names were of real punk bands. They bought the jacket because they thought it looked edgy.
I am all for people buying whatever they want to wear, and I’m realistic about the fact that not everybody can easily DIY clothing. I have multiple sclerosis and quite frequently I don’t have the energy to sew or paint. However, I feel that jackets are the one thing that should be personalized by the person who wears it. It’s a tradition that has been around since the early days of punk in the 1970’s, and something that means a lot to people in the punk, metal and goth subcultures. It shows other people in the subcultures what bands, films, or other things that you are heavily into. It even becomes a focal point of interest that will sometimes turn into a conversation with another person that is into similar things. Yes, sometimes ‘gatekeepers’ will be creeps and try to test you on your knowledge to make themselves feel superior. I’ve had it happen to me and it sucks. Not everybody is a creep though, and friendships can be started over a love of the same bands which is neat!
These days it’s really easy to learn how to paint on a leather or pleather jacket. There are tons of tutorials on YouTube showing you exactly how to do it and it really isn’t that difficult of a project to accomplish. You’re not good at painting? You can make a stencil out of cardboard, or any kind of thicker type paper, and do it that way. If what you create isn’t 100% perfect that is okay. You actually don’t even have to put band names on a jacket if you don’t want to. The latest one that I painted, shown below, doesn’t have a single band name on it. I am heavily into post-apocalyptic and dystopian films so I went with that kind of theme. There are also tutorials online that teach you how to stud a jacket and the studs are very cheap to buy on sites such as Etsy.
When it comes down to it when you buy a premade ‘punk’ jacket you are being exploited by a company wanting to make money off of a subculture that they don’t give a crap about. They don’t care about the long history of the DIY ethos that runs through it. Instead they see you as a rube willing to spend your hard earned cash on their manufactured product in order to look ‘edgy’. Don’t be a victim of their avarice and greed. When you put your mind to it you can accomplish anything you want, including painting bands that you love on your own jacket.