Photos by Jessica Lehrman
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Wandering through the cobble stone maze, I'm lost in the twisting brick lanes that stretch for miles. Tapestries hang from every market stall, and the smell of incense drenches my nose. A crowd of tourists and locals swarm through walkways, too narrow to hold the human mass. I’ve landed in the Camden Market, London’s hip spot for UK fashionistas, punks, steam goths and everything in between. Each stall of these century old, converted stables is filled to the brim with colors and eclectic wardrobes, showcasing the wide variety of London fashion eccentricities. I turn a corner and suddenly my senses are blasted with neon cyborg letters and bass heavy future beats. This is Cyberdog, home of fashion for the humanoid subculture of Cybergoths.
Two huge robots loom above the store-front. Passing through the cobble stone walk way, patrons mostly in their early 20s enter a world of science fiction mayhem. Go-go dancers bounce on top of large metal boxes on three inch tall neon, platform boots, to industrial techno. The store is filled with an aggressive amount of neon patterns, spike covered gadgets, and star trek inspired future ware. Cyborgs hang overhead, glaring down at the shoppers below, as they stare back awe struck at this strange finding amongst the cobblestone aesthetic of times past.
The flagship Camden Market store is described by the Cyberdog website as a “throbbing mass of style and humanity”. Its not just a shopping experience, Cyberdog is an alternate dimension, hidden in a nook of Camden.
Cyberdog is an independent clothing label that started in the 1990s. From their small beginnings in a Camden Market stable, to their three story mothership, they’ve become the leader in Cybergoth alternative fashion.
In the mid 1990s, gothic metal heads smashed into the raver scene with the musical influence of Industrial techno, and Electronic Body Music (EBM), birthing a genre of fashion that sports platform shoes, neon hot pants, and rainbow dreadfalls (synthetic dreadlocks), known as Cybergoth.
Since the 90s Cyberdog has become more accessible to the main stream, meeting London fashion with an urban underground twist. Although many who shop and work at the store are still outrageously Cyborg, most wouldn’t claim to be soley Cybergoth.
Its not rebellion that fuels this subculture, its fashion. Although they look like a bunch of out of this world space freaks, they’re just a group of humans trying to express themselves amidst a city crowded with fashion.
Heather, 22, sits across from me, in a room that looks like a space alien’s closet. Happy hardcore beats reverberate the floorboards from the store downstairs. Heather’s bright green, waist length dreads light up the room like a firecracker, as she tells me about her life as a cybergoth.
Heather was 15 when she got into the scene. She braved the Camden cobbles in six inch platforms, making sure to match her neon makeup with equally bright dreadfalls, hoping through clubs bumping industrial.
Although Heather works at Cyberdog, she would no longer consider herself a Cybergoth. Looking beneath the makeup and neon, Heather says, “everyone’s still a person at the end of the day, they’re still all people, these are just all material things that we chuck on, which are really fun.”
Gazing at me through her purple sparkle glasses, Izyy, the store manager at Camden, rocks a Cyberdog style very much her own. With pastel pink cheeks and and silver hot pants, Izzy is best described as an anime superhero.
Izzy has been with the Cyberdog company for over 10 years, she now manages the Camden mothership. Inspiring her staff to branch outside the Cybergoth fashion, Izzy says, “we encourage them to look how they want. They need to wear some Cyberdog, but dress it up however you want.”
Over the 10 years Izzy has been with the company she has seen it move farther into the mainstream, being featured in magazines like Vogue. "Its just kind of making it what you want it to be. We’re trying not to make people say you have to be a cybergoth to shop in our store,” explains Izzy.
Laura, 25, is new to the Cyberdog crew. Relocating from a small Island off the coast of England, just a few months ago, she’s found a place, working at Cyberdog, where she can express herself.
“[Cyberdog] hasn’t changed my style, but its allowed me to be myself all the time. because before i worked in an office and i had to wear smart black trousers and a blouse, and brown eye brows. It was making me unhappy to have to not be me. And so working here allows me to be myself.”
Her first inspiration came from Zeroluie, when she realized she could have pink eyebrows, now Laura changes the color of her eyebrows everyday. On her blog a Treat for the Freaks (laura-aurora.tumblr.com), Laura hopes to inspire others looking for a way to express themselves through fashion.