If you were a ~super edgy~ teen like me, you probably spent the early 2000s lurking around your local mall's Hot Topic.
Hot Topic is very much still in business, but how has it changed since the days of ironic metal lunchboxes and Marilyn Manson tees? I headed to the mall to find out, because I hadn't been in one for like 15 years.
Inside, the store was a chaotic mish-mash of synthetic fabric and fandom ephemera.
First observation: There was LOTS of Pokémon.
Pokémon underwear, socks, jewelry, backpacks, plush Pikachus, you name it. TEENS LOVE THE 'MON.*
To my nostalgic relief, Hot Topic still sells band T-shirts.
They are literally named after anxiety dreams??
And One Direction is cool enough for Hot Topic?
Lo and behold, belly button rings are still a thing. (See, Dad, you were wrong! They ARE still cool 15 years later!!)
This is a pretty good BOGO deal.
Is this a Steinbeck reference??
Freddy (?) and his friends look like Looney Tunes: The Meth Years tbh.
These Pop! dolls must be cool, because they were all over the store.
*whispers* What is a POP?
Also big are bow ties and suspenders, the perfect emo accessories. Accessor-emos. Emossories. Are people still emo?
Indeed, there were a couple lingering remnants of the scene-kid lifestyle (RIP). Here, a lone pair of checked pants contemplates its unrealized hopes and dreams.
And skinny jeans have not given way to some new form of wide-legged JNCOs yet.
This display really hurt my adult noggin. A My Chemical Romance wallet, a Little Mermaid license plate frame, a tie with aliens on it, and a bunch of chains?
And My Chemical Romance appears to be owned by the Cartoon Network?!
This is a sports bra, I believe. Even Hot Topic has succumbed to shilling athleisure.
I mean, I have literally no idea about any of this.
In conclusion, Hot Topic is now basically Tumblr: The Store.
I guess goth kids have been replaced by ~quote, unquote~ nerds?
And Hot Topic must be indirectly paying a huge crap ton of licensing fees.
Thank you for joining me on this journey, fellow Olds.