The Good Old Days
Those still living in a fantasyland where rock music is a beacon of authenticity take great exception to its commodification. Ripped jeans, Grateful Dead tapestries, faded Led Zeppelin tour T-shirts — they used to mean something, man. Or so they say.
Ironically, rock ’n’ roll always feels more authentic — and looks its coolest — when it revels in its inherent fatuousness. It’s a luxury pursuit. If you’re going to make it, why not dress like royalty?
Or at the very least, a royal jester. Glam rock progenitors like Alice Cooper, Roy Wood and, perhaps most notably, David Bowie knew this well, and their penchant for glitz laid the groundwork for the excessive aesthetics embraced by hair metal groups like Mötley Crüe and Ratt.
Every Rock Star’s Best Friend
This is the era that Melissa Kantor, owner of The Rockin Edge, hails from. “I was in my 20s and slightly older throughout the ’80s, so that’s really where I come from,” Kantor says. “A lot of it was way over the top. But that’s really where I found my interest in this edgy, different kind of thing.”
The Rockin Edge is an apparel store located in Camarillo that deals in specialty rock ’n’ roll-centric clothing and accessories, ranging from jewelry and handbags to belt buckles and leather cuffs. While rock apparel and paraphernalia isn’t novel in and of itself — you can find a Motörhead T-shirt at virtually any major shopping mall — Kantor custom-designs all of her products, meaning that every single one is a unique piece. It’s as much art as it is attire.
“Everything here is really wearable, and it’s not costume-y, so I do appeal to the mainstream,” Kantor says. “My audience goes from 20-year-olds and even teens up to people who are my age and grew up in this era and grew up [loving these styles], so it’s not just the super-young crowd who’s attracted to this stuff the most. They all have that interest.”
But even if The Rockin Edge has piqued the interest of mainstream shoppers, it’s safe to assume that the store’s bread and butter is still her impressive celebrity clientele: Slash, Alice Cooper, Megadeth, Mötley Crüe and Ratt are just some of the stars who regularly commission Kantor for work. Many of her products are geared specifically toward musicians. She mentions a cuff she’s designed for guitarists who want to wear chains on their hands but don’t want to scratch their guitars.
“I also do a lot of things that are convertible,” Kantor continues. “One accessory snaps together and becomes a bunch of other things. You can make a bracelet become a choker become a bootstrap become a belt. Everything I do has a different twist to it.”
A Somewhat Accidental Career
Kantor tells me that she’s always considered herself more of a music fan than a fashion expert. “I started out with mostly an interest in music, and that opened a lot of doors for me,” she admits. Kantor’s first official foray into the world of rock ’n’ roll fashion began in the 1980s, when she started designing stage wear for established acts, many of whom she still works with.
Kantor claims that she pioneered her original style by taking what she loved about ’80s rock fashion and skimming the fat: “I started with my clothing, and I didn’t like certain aspects of the style, so I would design my own things that I wanted but couldn’t find,” she says. “I’ve always had a vision for what is coming and what the next trend is going to be.”
Rock ’n’ Roll (Fashion) Will Never Die
Fashion trends are ephemeral by definition, but Kantor isn’t especially worried about becoming irrelevant. She acknowledges that styles change — and she intends to change with them.
“Styles seem to come back around — the same, only updated,” she says. “Rock ’n’ roll has always had this edgy styling, though. It’s always been there. Leather, something edgy, whether you call it ‘biker’ or whatever the current term for it was, it was still popular. They just updated it and changed it a little bit. But I’ve never found that my niche has gone away. It’s always been popular.”
The Rockin Edge is at 2312 Ventura Blvd, Camarillo. For more information, call 455-5577 or visit http://rockinedge.com.