Laramie Wilcox of Gothic Renaissance knows why clients keep coming back for more.
“We are the ONLY New York City store that offers old era gothic,” she said. “Competitors keep to the now and recycle merchandise easily found online. We also promote a friendly atmosphere where the staff works hard to give head-to-toe assistance, [from] the dress to the shoes to the hat to the stockings. Customers appreciate the one-stop shopping and often exclaim that they ‘couldn’t put it together themselves.’ We’re also considered the foremost contact between clubs and club-goers.”
The high-end gothic sister to the adjacent Halloween Adventure location, which specializes in costumes, is set near Manhattan’s bustling Union Square neighborhood, (both stores are owned by Pennsylvania-based Masquerade, LLC, which also runs Bliss Avenue). After doubling in size in March 2009, the 11-year-old store now measures 1,500 square feet. In addition to specializing in old-fashioned gothic styles, the retailer also carries plenty of new gothic merchandise including that by tried-and-true brands like Lip Service, Empire Intimates (also known as Love Fifi Ltd), Leg Avenue, Music Legs, Burleska, Shrine, Silver Pop, New Rock and Coquette, among others. Stitch, manager and key buyer of the company, researches new designs from the U.S., as well as imports from Japan, Germany, England and Korea. Gothic Renaissance also carries consignment pieces from local designers, who Wilcox said, “appreciate a place to showcase their unique artistry.”
Styles fall within genres including steampunk, burlesque, cyber and fetish from the medieval, Renaissance, Edwardian and Victorian eras. The store is best known for men’s and women’s apparel, corsets, shoes, masks, jewelry, accessories and shoes. To serve a wide base of clientele — ranging from young people looking for affordable, alternative styles to true fashion collectors willing to shell out for one-of-a-kind pieces — the store carries merchandise ranging in price from $20 to $2,500. Corsets are priced from $50 to $400, "affordable casuals" from $20 to $100, handmade masks from $35 to $2,500, and one-of-a-kind high-end pieces from $500 to $1,500. The majority of clothing is available in sizes XS through XXL, with corsets sized from a 32 to 44 bust and a 22 to 34 waist.
With its self-described unique merchandise and head-to-toe staff assistance, it is no surprise that the store specializes in outfitting people for events; be it a stylist working on a film or photo shoot; those attending a masquerade party; Goths fleshing out their wardrobes or preparing for a club night; or Halloween shoppers looking for what Wilcox called “a different approach to a costume […] Something they can wear more than once and/or will show stop a red carpet party.” Regulars also drop in about once a month to see what new styles have come in, and tourists come in to experience the phenomenon. “[They] often exclaim that they ‘have nothing like this’ at home,” explained Wilcox.