SIX NATIONS – Goth, punk, hippie, grunge, emo, metal; if you’re alive and well today you’ve probably taken part in one of these alternative sub-cultures or know someone that has.

So, what would draw someone to a certain subculture?

YouTuber Hello Batty, a renowned cosplay artist and Lolita style goth, explained in one of her videos that the gothic subculture in particular came out of the desire to be unique.

“The only reason that ‘goth’ popped up as a subculture was because of young kids rebelling and being different,” said Batty. “And in our subculture, there’s always going to be young kids rebelling and being different and that’s a good thing and it keeps us growing and it’s exciting to see what new things are going on.”

The same goes for many of the other subcultures.

Alternative culture and its many subs began as early as the 1920s during the revolution of the flapper girls, but as each deviates from the norm these cultures, subcultures, and counter-cultures have been fuelled by the “merch” provided by certain shops. Rather than having it sold in mainstream outlets.

But being different does have its downside, as pastel goth and YouTuber Julia Zelg explained to her subscribers how she feels about having her appearance put under scrutiny for simply being different.

“’You’d be so pretty if you didn’t dress like that.’ Excuse me, that’s so offensive because if I’m wearing these clothes it’s obvious that I like the way they look,” said Zelg. “I feel prettier like this than I would with ‘normal clothes,’ and more important than that; I don’t care if you think I’m pretty or not. I’m dressing like this for myself, not you.”

Yet, within indigenous communities, the connection to these unique subcultures has reached far and wide as many enjoy the outlet of being different.

Retail chains such as Hot Topic, Spencers, and Green Earth offer the desired merch for each of the aforementioned cultures. From rock and heavy metal band posters to anime t-shirts and reminiscent jewelry of old cartoons; the shops help to keep each of the cultures fresh by providing unique pieces of memorabilia. The closest of the shops to Six Nations are located in the Limeridge Mall in Hamilton, and many take advantage.

“I think they’re all great stores — they all have really neat and interesting stuff,” said Six Nations Resident Jasinda Martin-Abel, 22. “I feel good vibes and more in my comfort zone [when I’m in stores like that], and it really draws in my attention because there’s always so much to look at.”

Martin-Abel believes that her own style of dressing isn’t “hardcore” as in the case of a goth or emo style, but it is a subtle mixture of grunge and punk as she will wear spacers in her ears, ripped jeans and band t-shirts regularly. This is what makes the commute to the mall worth it.

“Hot topic and Spencer’s help with my style in a way that lets me fuse with my favourite bands or artists,” she said. “It’s more of how they make their clothing and how it looks on me too. If I catch an idea by looking at a shirt, I can think of ways to make an outfit and what can go with it.”

She also incorporates a lot of select merch from the decor section to decorate and personalize her room. Bob’s Burgers, Rick and Morty, Pierce the Veil are only some of her favourites as she has collected a variety of t-shirts, bags and accessories from the shops as well.

But when asked about whether or not she would like it if the merchandise was sold everywhere rather than in select stores, Martin-Abel explained that she thinks alternative merch should stay away from main stream.

“I do wish the stores would be everywhere instead of the merch being in every store. Cause that just takes away how unique and different the stores are,” she said.

And what better way for subcultures born out of uniqueness to remain.

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