Photos by Jack Gould
No one used to make black clothes for kids. Nancy Kaufman recalls the controversy sparked after a TV show did a segment on the punk rock–inspired baby outfits she made for her store Na Na in the mid-’80s. “Gary Collins defended the look as ‘cute’ while other guests were shocked and disgusted. A newspaper in Canada said that such clothes were too provocative for kids and should be banned!”
A bib that says “Slut” might still raise an eyebrow — pierced or otherwise — but more and more hipsters are having kids and transforming their tykes into punk mini-me’s, complete with attitude-laden logo tees and freaky little zipper-covered ensembles. A number of local designers are tapping into this “old-school cool” market.
Stella is in a cotton Space Baby “Doll” onesie with a vinyl Retail Slut bondage skirt; and Marco wears a Retail Slut bib and diaper cover.
“Our friends want their kids to look cool like them,” says Yolanda Campbell, designer at the longtime Melrose punk/goth emporium Retail Slut. Her “Little Shits” line features leopard, vinyl and velvet diaper covers and bibs, devil-horned and bat-eared baby beanies, and plaid bondage-style pants and skirts.
Space Baby, a company run by Los Feliz publicist Michele V., makes black onesies with phrases such as “I’m Spacey” and “Spank” written in silver ink. “People are tired of having Baby Gap and Old Navy as their choices,” says V. “No baby should be forced to wear pink or blue!”
Takara Tomeoni, who designs a line called Hatchling, which features tees adorned with skulls and slogans such as “I Bite” and “Bruiser,” agrees. “I didn’t choose to wear bell-bottoms when I was 3 years old, but that was the style,” she says. “This stuff is only edgy to people who are just getting in touch with what’s been going on for decades. To us, these images are normal — and skulls are cute.”
Raven wears a
cotton “I Bite” tee from Hatchling.
Mya and Brian Gerard, the couple behind the O.C. streetwear clothing company Paper Doll, exemplify how the trend has spread organically. After they had their first child, Brya Blue, in 1996, they decided to make her some one-of-a-kind miniature versions of their grown-up getups. “She became a trade-show celebrity. Jerry Only from the Misfits called her the ‘Punk Rock Princess,’” says her mom. “After seeing her decked out in the designs, our customers demanded them for their stores.”
Rock & drool wear is starting to get popular beyond the rude and tattooed crowd. “A lot of ‘normal’ people buy this stuff as novelty gifts,” says Campbell of Retail Slut. “It’s great for a baby shower. They have a laugh and probably never dress the babies in the clothes, except maybe to take pictures.”
Shogo (left) wears a “Hand Over the Tit and Nobody Gets Hurt” onesie from Space Baby and a Retail Slut devil-horn beanie. Leon wears a “Space Baby Superstar” onesie from Space Baby and a Retail Slut devil-horn beanie.
But for many others, it’s a backlash against everything mass-produced, says Kaufman. “The kids who were tots at the time and whose parents played a ton of punk when they were little are parents now. They would like to think their kids are breaking the mold, starting life ‘cool.’”
Hatchling and Space Baby are available at the Brat Store,
1938 14th St., Santa Monica, (310) 452-2480.
Hatchling is also available at Blest Boutique, 1634 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 467-0191; Grometville, 2876 Rowena Ave., Silver Lake,
(323) 665-5524; and Retail Slut, 7308 Melrose Ave., Hollywood, (323) 934-1339.
Space Baby is also available at Daily Planet, 5931 1/2 Franklin Ave., Hollywood, (323) 957-0061; Meltdown, 7522 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 851-7288; and Blest Boutique; or online at www.spacebaby.net.
Little Shits is available at Retail Slut, 7308 Melrose Ave., Hollywood,
(323) 934-1339; or online at www.retailslut.com.