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Gothic Pins

Pins are a quick, easy and affordable way to customise a jacket or a bag. There are lots and lots of designs available from a variety of retailers, and they only cost a few pounds each. Recently I've amassed a collection of my favourites.

Gothic pins on a jacket lapel

The big fashion brands Killstar and Sourpuss both have a good selection of pins. Many of their pin designs are also available as patches. Killstar's pins are normally occult-themed and silver-coloured with black enamel, echoing the monochrome look of most of their other products. Sourpuss's pins likewise fit their brand, and are generally bright, bold and horrorpunk-influenced with a 50's B-movie vibe.

Killstar's In Memory of my Social Life gravestone pin was the one that started my pin collection: it spoke to me after I'd spent October half-term with my girls, barely leaving the house. I really don't get out much, especially when they're on holiday. The Killstar cat and soot pins reminded me of two Studio Ghibli films: Kiki's Delivery Service and My Neighbor Totoro. The Sourpuss Moon and Bats pin glows in the dark.

The UK-based jewellery company Mysticum Luna was established in 2014. Their pin range is my favourite so far; you can see how many I have bought! They currently produce and ship their own enamel pin designs monthly (their 'Pinscription'), selling any remainder through their website. They cover a range of occult, horror and witchy themes, and take advantage of their subscription model to offer seasonal pins, like the black-leafed holly pin pictured. They also sell a black flag you can hang on a wall for displaying your pin collection. For more information about their jewellery, take a look at my article: Mysticum Luna Gothic Jewellery (and Dark Dwelling Remixes).

Spooky Box Club also produce very nice pins as part of their subscription service. Each themed box usually has one. I haven't signed up for the boxes as I'm two impatient to wait for them, but luckily you can buy items individually from their website, albeit at a much higher price.

My other pins in the images are from Punky Pins, Fearless Illustration, Curiology and a couple are unbranded. Curiology's are not enamelled like my others, rather they appear to be printed. One thing I wasn't expecting when I started looking for pins was just how ubiquitous they are now: flags, pop culture characters, politics, slogans etc. If you can think of it, there's a fair chance you can find a related pin. Disney has released thousands of pins based on their intellectual property - including lots for the Nightmare Before Christmas - selling them as souvenirs and for trading between collectors. I'm not really sure if my two NBC pins are originals or copies, however.

Speaking of copies, I think I've identified the artist behind the unbranded Forever Ever skeleton couple pin: Chris Bourke, a linocut artist / lino printmaker. For a short while he sold pins identical to mine, based on one of his original prints, but they were a limited run. I reckon mine is a very faithful 'reproduction'. I've seen poorer quality versions online too. Since starting my pin collection I've learned that pin design plagiarism is a real problem for artists. I do try to buy directly from the designer(s) now. Attempting to make amends I've linked to his blog below, and I encourage you to look at his work.

The mass-produced nature of these pins might put some people off, as it may feel like they lack the 'authenticity' of a music-themed collection built over time, bought from gigs and festivals. Truthfully, across the board, alternative fashion items are more mass-produced, commercialised and easier to come by than fifteen or twenty years ago, and there is less need to DIY as a result. On the plus side, the sheer range of items available now - clothing and accessories like these - means darkly-inclined individuals at least have choice when shopping, and we can express our tastes better, rather than all picking the one vaguely subculturally-styled item on offer. Individual style can still emerge, taking advantage of the big brands, small and new businesses, and embracing the DIY ethos. I think it is a positive thing that the aesthetic is accessible. We can also appreciate when someone's put the effort into refining it.