Sometimes, you have to drag out that studded belt, strap it over something animal print and listen to The Rezillos while cutting your own hair in your parents’ bathroom sink. Well, you don’t have to, but there is a certain self-gratifying catharsis — often isolated to that hour after you finished watching “SLC Punk” — in putting on too much eyeliner and giving yourself a shaving-cream mohawk.
Some would take this moment to say, “You pussy scumbag, go back to listening to Jewel,” and those people should definitely shop at the new goth/punk/industrial/fetish store, Variant 13, at 277 Church Street. A visit to Variant 13 left me still unsure as to what industrial clothing is, exactly, but I did find a conveniently close supplier of plastic nurse’s uniforms and pleather corsets.
Variant 13 is owned and run by two sisters, Emily and Erica Freedman, who declared that they are “tired of getting ripped off at the mall,” opening the store on Valentine’s Day of this year to sell clothing that is “not the norm.”
The clothes are certainly not the norm for Yalie New Haven, because they are not sold at J. Crew, J. Press, Wishlist or Urban Outfitters. But I don’t know how vast the market is for executioner hoods and purses with “fuck you” emblazoned across them. Most people I know still think that their “Everyone Loves an Irish Girl” tee is totally counterculture. I definitely need to meet new people.
Perhaps Variant 13 is just the place to do that. You can recline on a chair that looks like a giant tiger-striped shoe and pet the friendly adopted cat named Kujo (like a crazy dog? like the breakdancer? I don’t know).
Occasionally some guy with a facial piercing will stroll in and ask where the men’s clothing is. The answer is that the men’s clothing is everywhere, because, obviously, all clothes could potentially be guys’ clothes, or at least skinny guys’ clothes. And I, for one, fully endorse this theory, because who doesn’t want to see more men wearing the purple, sequined, wedge-heeled, knee-high boots available at Variant 13?
Everyone working in the store is incredibly excited to be figuring out the logistics of their fledgling endeavor. And their excitement is contagious, maybe too contagious: You might just leave wearing leopard-printed, Tripp skinny jeans, which are awesome, if a little pricey for pants that make you look like a member of Josie and the Pussycats.
There are also some other pretty intriguing items up for sale. For instance, you can pick up Manic Panic hair dye in colors like “mystic heather,” “electric banana” and “pretty flamingo.” The Pac-Man t-shirt you’ve been shopping for on eBay for months but only have found in extra-large is there too, in a size that fits. And there’s a Hello Kitty belly-button ring where the Sanrio-knockoff body swings detached from the head, which obviously screams, “Happy birthday, little sis!”
Erica and Emily said they also planned to stock a “selection of local artists’ clothes.” Until then, you can buy something called the “super stretchy slinky thing,” which is just what it advertises: a super stretchy slinky thing of no apparent use. Or you could invest in a “hair piece” made by their “intern.”
On March 9th, Variant 13 will hold a fashion show with a small cover charge and refreshments. What better way could there be to start off your spring break than to buy something skanky/hardcore to wear after hours on the beach in Cancun?
The visit will be fulfilling even if you don’t walk away with bondage pants for your next rave, because it is refreshingly clear that Emily and Erica don’t lie when they say that they opened the store because “this is what we love.”