Is there a Hot Topic in the UK?

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Whether you’re hoping to find your favorite band merch or relive the emo days of the 90s, you’re probably wondering, “Is there a Hot Topic in the UK or London?” And not hot topic like, religion or politics, but Hot Topic like the USA retail brand that your parents always hated you shopping at even though you were like, just trying to express yourself. 

Hey, sidenote! If you’re traveling to the UK, whether for a short period of time or as an expat, why don’t you join my Facebook group where you can ask questions, get advice or just look at pretty pictures of this part of the world! Just click here to request to join and I’ll add you!

Well I’m here to help you find out the answer to the question…

“Is there a Hot Topic in the UK or England or London?”

Unfortunately, no. There is no Hot Topic in the UK or England or London, but I’ve figured out the equivalent to Hot Topic in the UK (as best as I can). You can still find your grunge jewelry and clothing though, don’t worry. 

Before this post is full of gel bracelets and scene music, let’s chat about some of the amazing resources I have for you to help you either plan your trip to London or the UK or to navigate expat life in the UK as an American (or perhaps you’re from another country – being an American expat in the UK is just the story and process I know most about!)

Firstly, no matter your reason for being here, you need the best book on England for foreigners ever written – the book is called “Watching the English” and you should click here and check it out.

It takes everything you think you know about the UK and either explains it or shows you what you’re really getting yourself into (major small talk and frequent tea breaks, woo!)

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It literally changed how I felt and lived in the UK and made me understand what was going on around me so much more. Yay for not being confused as to why everyone is saying sorry a lot.


I also want to give you some other resources that I’ve lovingly put together to help you have the best trip possible. If you’re just coming as a visitor, you’ll want to check out the post about the best tours in London – I don’t have time to waste when I’m exploring London, and neither do you. By reading my round-up of the best tours, you’re able to figure out which ones are great, which ones aren’t worth it, and which ones will get your hard earned dollars.

I’ve also included some advice on how to get around London for visitors, which talks about everything from Oyster cards to walking on the left to double decker buses!

If you’re thinking about or planning on being an American expat in the UK, I’ve got the full story of how I did it below, as well as some helpful advice on how to make friends in the UK – it is a bit harder than in America due to some cultural differences, but it can be done!

Right, now that you’re sorted with those resources, let’s jump into Hot Topic in the UK. 

History of Hot Topic in the UK

Hot Topic opened in the US in 1989 – Montclair, California, to be exact. It was founded by a man named Orv Madden, who also used to work at the Children’s Place.

As the culture changed, the store catered to a variety of trends including “geek culture” in the early 200s, emo and scene culture, and “metal” culture that included the band Disturbed and others. If you shopped at Hot Topic, you are and wanted to be the opposite of preppy or “normal.”

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This struck fear in the hearts of many suburban parents who weren’t quite sure what to make of it all, but Hot Topic is still open today and has over 600 locations across the US. Today, they focus a lot on pop culture references and band and movie clothing and memorabilia. There is also an emphasis on anime and manga. Hot Topic has also sponsored concert tours over the years.

Despite its success in the US, Hot Topic has never made it to the UK. 

Equivalent to Hot Topic in the UK

So you can’t go to Hot Topic in the UK, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some cool places to go if you want something a bit off the beaten path. 


Okay, so Topshop isn’t counterculture and it’s a really popular clothing chain, but they do have some funky items here that I think will help you stand out from the crowd or embrace your inner style, which is why I have included them.

This is especially true if you’re American, as it’s British fashion and may include many things you haven’t worn together before or style that is “in” in the UK. 

Camden Market

The UK’s closest equivalent to Hot Topic when it comes to shopping is Camden Market. This clothing (and more) market in London is THE place to go for anything counterculture. You’ll find individual stalls selling some really spooky outfits, as well as larger shops selling band merch and other graphic tees that would please a Hot Topic lover. 

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