The Dark Side features goth, steampunk, more

6/6/2014

By John Green

By John Green

Special to The Telegram

(MCT) — The first hint that a new clothing store in downtown Garden City isn't going to be typical mainstream fashion is the name.

The Dark Side opened Saturday at 115 Grant Ave.

The shop will specialize in goth, steampunk, pinup and rockabilly-style clothing, as well as jewelry, accessories and concert shirts.

"It's one of those clothing and music scenes I've been into for years and years, since high school at least," said store owner Terri Matthews, 43. "I finally got disgusted trying to find stuff off the Internet — does it fit? Will it work? Or even show up? — or traveling way out of town."

The closest stores offering the fashions are in Wichita, Amarillo and Denver, Matthews said, and then primarily just goth and concert shirts.

While many may be familiar with goth, which has been around since at least the 1970s, and features primarily black or dark Gothic style mourning clothing, steampunk is a newer style that also draws heavily from the Victorian era.

Originating as a subgenre of science fiction and fantasy, steampunk fiction features advanced machines that run off steam power of the 19th century. Steampunk fashion grew from resulting movies and illustrations.

While steampunk fashion has no set guidelines, according to several Internet sources, it tends to blend modern styles with Victorian, such as with gowns, corsets, petticoats, bustles, waistcoats, top hats and spats.

Steampunk outfits are also often accented with technological "period" accessories, such as timepieces, parasols, driving goggles and even ray guns.

Pinup and rockabilly are similar in that they draw from vintage fashions, but more from the 1950s. Pinup is inspired by dresses or clothing worn by pinup girls, while rockabilly carries a more "hillbilly" flair.

"It's really a flexible style of clothing," Matthew said. "More flexible than you'd imagine.

"You can do 'corporate' goth or full on goth. Steampunk is becoming more prominent now that they put a name to it. I don't have a lot of steampunk as yet, but I'm working it in. It's a little difficult to find and what you do find is expensive."

She's trying to keep her prices "mid-range," Matthews said, "so high school kids can afford it, and adults can afford it without going high-end. There's a place I visited in Seattle. It was a beautiful store, but you'd need to get ready to sell your car to get a shirt."

She's worked retail "off and on throughout my life," Matthews said, but this is her first venture into running her own business.

While goth and steampunk fashions aren't prominent in Garden City, "there's more than you'd think," Matthews said. She's also hoping to draw from a large area of southwest Kansas, where she grew up.

"I even had a couple of ladies pop in who'd heard about it," Matthews said. "One said she'd never wear that kind of clothing, but then she found a top she would wear. ... At least it's something new to look at."

The 1,300-square-foot shop inside historic Buffalo Hotel is about three-quarters full, Matthews said, "with room to grow."

"I'll always be adding to my lines and I'm always willing to take suggestions," she said. "There's always something out there I haven't heard of or seen yet."

The new store, which will operate 2 to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, will also carry body jewelry and other accessories.

"We're excited to welcome Terri and The Dark Side to downtown," Nicole Lucas, executive director of Garden City Downtown Vision, stated in a news release about the store. "We always enjoy helping entrepreneurs get started and Terri is a perfect example of someone with a great idea and the guts to see it through. Terri's shop adds another element of interest to our already great selection of downtown stores."

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