Building a new
space for Hot Topic
Retail Environments Design / 3D Modeling / Project Management
Hot Topic was born out of a Southern California garage in 1989 and has maintained that sense of homemade grit until recently. Once a brand defined by unapologetic difference, Hot Topic has turned into the one thing it always feared: a mainstream poser. Our team dove into modern youth culture to help Hot Topic shed their stale exterior and return to their roots.
Revitalize Hot Topic’s brand purpose.
Return Hot Topic to its former position as a cultural innovator.
A shoppable space where young people can come together to create the community they want.
Hot Topic has lost its edge.
Sales are driven by licenses.
A store that once represented rebellion and goth culture now carries Funko Pop, Disney and other fandom merchandise. This generates revenue, but it dilutes Hot Topic’s personality.
Hot Topic refuses to take a stance.
Hot Topic has decided against selling merchandise that feels too political or cause-oriented in order to not alienate potential customers. These days, it doesn't pay to play it this safe.
Malls aren’t cool anymore.
Hot Topic is still doing well despite the fact that malls are dying rapidly. Regardless, the stores feel cramped and overwhelming when they should feel welcoming and inspiring.
What if Hot Topic could create culture instead of chasing it?
To do this, Hot Topic needs to plug back into youth culture, which is a bit different than it was in the 1990s. High school is becoming a place where…
Difference is celebrated.
It’s the most accepted time to be weird and different. Rigid stereotypes like “jock” and “geek” are growing tired and more people feel comfortable in their own skin.
⟶ How can Hot Topic celebrate uniqueness?
Individuality requires exploration.
Teenagers are constantly experimenting with new ways of expressing themselves, trying on new personas until they find a style and way of life that feels right.
⟶ How might Hot Topic inspire creativity?
You are what you stand for.
Young people use social media to affect change before they are even eligible to vote. They are take pride in their political views and don’t hesitate to speak up.
⟶ How might Hot Topic amplify young voices?
Hot Topic Hubs: A shoppable space where young people can unite to create the community they want.
HT Hubs– located in suburban town centers– are much larger than traditional Hot Topic mall stores. They are a place for conversation, cultural creation and connection.
WHAT I LEARNED
Your initial hunches might be wrong! If/when this happens, use it to your advantage.
Use a deadline to force yourself to get over the learning curve of a new piece of software. But, remember to take breaks!