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Founded a little over ten years ago, fashion label Punk Rave has become synonymous with intricate, yet eminently wearable, gothic designs. Their skin tight leggings are sexy but edgy, their tops scream post-punk style with jagged edges and torn sleeves. Blouses are more traditional but heavily influenced by Japanese style and Visual Kei, while Punk Rave’s gothic coats and gothic jackets have an elvish feel to them (albeit a sinister one). With style names like ‘Dead Can Dance’ top, ‘All About Eve’ dress and ‘Falling Darkness’ skirt these guys aren’t on the fence about their allegiance to everything gothic (their website allows you to search for an item by color and there are twelve different kinds of black). Their current range is HUGE, including gothic dresses and a large selection for men which isn’t common in clothing labels. We speak to head designer Judy about Punk Rave and discover the ethos and soul behind the designs. She also tells us which gothic icon she’d most like to design for (one guess which dark sartorial Mr she picks) and where they hope to take the gothic Lolita brand in the future.
Punk Rave was founded in 2006, but Judy had been designing clothes in their signature style long before the brand was officially founded. When asked about the unique name of the brand and where it originated she says it was a combination of the feeling she wanted wearers to convey when dressed in their designs. “‘Punk’ – I wanted to express the feeling of being simple and direct, just like the Punk spirit. ‘Rave’ is a state of mind, showing Peace, Love, Unity and Respect.”
When it comes to producing a new Punk Rave clothing line, there is a team of creative individuals involved in the process. Judy explains “firstly, I finish the drawing concepts and the other designers will follow the steps I have outlined. Then I will adjust the designs if there is need. I think of it as a team, I don’t make a distinction between myself and the other designers.” It isn’t difficult to see that Punk Rave has a lot of popular designs, their coats and pants especially. “I like to design pants and skirts, or something like that, because there is more design space for us to work with, but in general no matter how the designs are exaggerated, if they are used for the lower part of body, they will be more popular and appeal to more people. My favourite style is Steampunk. We started designing this style of clothing in 2016. I love it because it lives with science and magic, which is the biggest charm of Steampunk.” Rather than just making their range in brown and putting brass colored buckles on everything, their Steampunk range is carefully thought out and intricately detailed. A pair of cream lace cuffs, with aged brown leather straps is accessorized with vintage bullets. They can also double as a waist cincher and this multipurpose, or adjustable feature is common across a lot of Punk Rave’s designs.
The Punk Rave label combines aspects of period gothic fashion, like tattered lace and lace-up corset-style fastenings, with futuristic, almost apocalyptic styles. However, Judy sees three main characteristics in the clothing she designs. “Punk Rave has three kinds of styles; you can see it independently or conjunctively. The first is Gothic, the spirit of which is “I love black, it is because I love the life more than anyone else”. The second is the spirit of Punk, which can be summed-up by “I don’t care, I know who I am”. The third is a Lolita spirit, “I can make my own fantasy”. There are many design elements of the three styles, so I do hope our friends who wear Punk Rave gothic clothes, whatever style it is that you like, that you will find yourself in the design spirits of Punk Rave. Just like a sweet friend, who knows you and understands the real you.”
Many gothic and Visual Kei styles are androgynous, not needing to affiliate themselves with either gender. Does Punk Rave intentionally design some of their clothes to appeal to men, women and androgynous styles? “We don’t adjust it deliberately. Personally I think it is important to dress in coordination with your own style and many items of Punk Rave are androgynous, both are available in female sizes and male sizes. In the future I think we will expand into and experiment with cyberpunk. Let’s look forward!”
When asked who her personal gothic icon is, Judy replies with a name all of us are familiar with for his expressive and controversial style. “Marilyn Manson. It is hard for me to not love his style, he gives me so much inspiration for designs.” And if you could design an outfit for someone famous, who would it be? “Could it be Marilyn Manson? In fact, I do hope no matter what kinds of occasion it is, special occasion or daily life, if they like the kinds of clothes that I design, and if she or he is kind and deep hearted, I always like to design clothes for my friends.” So from a desire to produce simple, direct designs with soul and consideration behind them, Judy ultimately enjoys creating clothes for people who love to wear them and can take the passion behind Punk Rave onto the streets and into their hearts.