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Originally published February 16, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified February 16, 2007 at 11:12 AM

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Retail Report

Goth beauty is in eye of beholder — but advice is plentiful

Everyone needs fashion advice, men especially. But what to do if you're Goth? Enter Gothic Beauty, a Portland-based quarterly magazine centered...

Seattle Times business reporters

Everyone needs fashion advice, men especially. But what to do if you're Goth?

Enter Gothic Beauty, a Portland-based quarterly magazine centered on fashion, beauty, lifestyle and events for the Goth subculture.

A recent issue included fashion tips for men from the California deathrock band Astrovamps.

"There's nothing worse," wrote Eyajo Joseph, the band's keyboardist, "than seeing someone with a cool look and outfit, and then [to] notice they haven't painted their fingernails."

And from vocalist Daniel Ian: "Sneakers and vinyl DON'T mix."

The magazine, launched in 2000, has a circulation of 23,000, with distribution in bookstore chains such as Borders, Barnes & Noble, Waldenbooks and Hastings.

But what is a Gothic beauty, anyway?

"It's hard to define," said founder Steven Holiday, who runs the magazine with wife Ruby. "There are just so many things and so many looks."

The Goth scene originated from the post-punk movement of the late 1970s, marked by the emergence of bands such as Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus and The Cure.

While the subculture is broad, it's underpinned by an aesthetic that gravitates toward the dark and macabre.

Alison Douglas, who runs Seattle-based VelvetGarden.com, an online marketplace for Gothic clothing, accessories and beauty products, said she likes that the scene also encompasses art and literature, including 19th-century novelists such as Lord Byron and Mary Shelley.

"It always seemed a bit more intelligent than a scene that was based just around music," Douglas said.

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The Goth subculture has endured long enough to spawn a major fashion-retailer (Hot Topic), popular films (Tim Burton received an Oscar nod for his "Corpse Bride") and TV characters (think Abby Sciuto, the forensic scientist on CBS' "NCIS").

And mainstream parody: A "Saturday Night Live" skit, "Goth Talk," poked fun at the subculture as being dominated by teens.

Ruby Holiday, beauty editor for Gothic Beauty, said it's too easy to make assumptions about why some gravitate to the scene. "It's like asking why do you like strawberries?"

Even the scene has changed dramatically since she first was drawn to it as a teen in the Skagit Valley. Then, Goths were perhaps best known for dark, Victorian-era clothing, including bustled skirts, corsets and lace.

Today, the aesthetics run from "cybergoths," with clothing and hair reminiscent of futuristic science-fiction characters, to those who dress with an early-20th-century burlesque feel.

And for those who shop at the publicly traded Hot Topic — which posted $511.1 million in sales for the first nine months of 2006 — consider them "mall goths."

This lifestyle based largely on aesthetics doesn't come cheap.

At Metro, a Goth apparel mainstay on Capitol Hill, a vinyl straightjacket with extendable sleeves — good for restraint — sells for $140. And the Constantine jacket, a double-breasted, floor-length coat with a jacquard pattern and pirate cuffs, goes for $500.

But Douglas, of Velvet Garden, said the cost of upkeep depends upon the person. She started her online marketplace because she enjoys bargain hunting and passing on deals.

"I'm incredibly frugal," she said.

"My husband dyes my hair for me. My hair dye is $6 or $7 from a drugstore, and it's only done three or four times a year."

— Monica Soto Ouchi

Tidbits

Seattle's Canlis restaurant and Starbucks are holding a contest to see which Starbucks store in Western Washington can raise the most money and awareness for the Guatemalan farmers who grow the beans for Canlis' special coffee blend.

Mark Canlis, the restaurant's managing owner, wants to raise enough money for a new school in the Antigua Valley, where the farmers live.

But beyond that, he wants to encourage Starbucks and Canlis employees to raise awareness about these farmers as well.

The store or headquarters team that best champions the cause wins a free dinner party at Canlis.

The restaurant carries a special Starbucks blend called Guatemala Casi Cielo, which was created for Canlis and first sold there in 2003.

Now other restaurants use it, and Starbucks sells out of the blend every time its stores offer it by the pound. — MA

The founder of Pete's Brewing and two of his first employees have created a new brew whose profits will go to the Institute for Myeloma & Bone Cancer Research in Los Angeles. Called Reunion — A Beer For Hope, it will be available in specialty stores like Whole Foods and Bottleworks in early March.

Alan Shapiro, president of SBS-Imports in Seattle and one of the first Pete's employees, thought of the idea after learning that his former colleague, Virginia MacLean, had been diagnosed with the bone cancer.

They reunited with Pete's Brewing founder Pete Slosberg, who has since sold the brewery, to create Reunion.

A 22-ounce bottle will retail for about $5. — MA

Anthony's Restaurants in Seattle are holding a contest to choose a new name for an annual fundraiser that used to be called the "Oyster Olympics."

Anthony's says it received a letter from the U.S. Olympic Committee telling them to "refrain from featuring Olympic terminology in the name of your annual oyster event," so restaurant officials decided they better get a new one.

The deadline for entries is Tuesday. For details, go to www.anthonys.com. The grand-prize winner gets two tickets to the oyster event March 27 plus a weekend getaway. — MA

Retail Report appears Fridays. Melissa Allison covers the food and beverage industry. She can be reached at 206-464-3312 or mallison@seattletimes.com. Monica Soto Ouchi covers goods, services and online retail. She can be reached at 206-515-5632 or msoto@seattletimes.com.

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Retail Report is a look at the trends, issues and people who makeup the dynamic and versatile retail sector throughout the Puget Sound region. Every Friday with Melissa Allison and Amy Martinez. Send tips or comments to mallison@seattletimes.com or amartinez@seattletimes.com.

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