Hot Topic

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For the Le Tigre song, see Hot Topic (song).
Hot Topic, Inc.
Industry Retail
Founded 1988 by Orv Madden
Headquarters Industry, California, USA
Number of locations
642 (April 2011)[1]
Key people
Lisa Harper, CEO (2011–present)
Betsy McLaughlin, CEO (2000–2011)
Bruce Quinell, Chairman of the Board
Products clothing, accessories, music
Revenue Increase US$761 million (FY 2009)[2]
Increase US$32.5 million (FY 2009)[2]
Increase US$19.7 million (FY 2009)[2]
Total assets Increase US$371 million (FY 2009)[3]
Total equity Increase US$258 million (FY 2009)[3]

Hot Topic is an American retail chain specializing in music and alternative culture–related clothing and accessories, as well as licensed music. The majority of the stores are located in regional shopping malls.[4] The first Hot Topic store was opened in 1988 by Orv Madden, who retired as CEO in 2000 and was replaced by Betsy McLaughlin, who headed the company until 2011. Lisa Harper assumed the position of CEO in March 2011. The company went public and began trading on NASDAQ in 1996. In 2006, Hot Topic was placed 53rd on Fortune 500's Top Companies to Work For list.[5] In 2013, Hot Topic announced its sale to private equity firm Sycamore Partners for $600 million.[6]

Product assortment and sales[edit]

Hot Topic at Universal CityWalk in Hollywood, California, displaying the Hot Topic logo used during the peak of the company's popularity.

Approximately 40% of Hot Topic's revenue comes from sales of licensed band t-shirts.[4] Hot Topic often negotiates exclusive licensing arrangements with musical artists, movie studios, and graphic artists. Fashion apparel for young men and women is featured prominently in stores, with products from Lip Service, Morbid Threads, Rude, Social Collision, Royal Bones, and also Tripp, Disney, Sanrio, DC Comics, WWE, Heartcore Clothing, Iron Fist, Nintendo, Nickelodeon, Invader Zim, Harry Potter, as well as web celebrities and music acts such as hip-hop artists, Psychopathic Records and Hopeless Records, and more recently, Doctor Who, Adventure Time, Regular Show, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Sons of Anarchy, Resident Evil, and Domo merchandise. Some children's clothing is also available on the Hot Topic website.


In 2001, Hot Topic launched Torrid, a concept store that sells clothing for plus-size women.[7] Torrid stores currently carry brands such as Silver Jeans, Vigoss, Dickies, and Z. Cavaricci.

On March 2, 2005, the company restated its consolidated financial statements for certain prior periods to reflect changes related to lease accounting.[8]

In 2008, Hot Topic launched ShockHound, an online retailer and social networking music site. The site features music downloads, interviews and exclusive content. Hot Topic's original website,, was launched in 1997, and ships products to approximately 100 countries.[citation needed]

In August 2010, Hot Topic opened two new stores in Canada, which also marked the chain's first two international outlets. The first store opened on August 11 at Square One Shopping Centre in Mississauga, Ontario, and then at Scarborough Town Centre in Toronto, Ontario the following day.[9] The company has since also opened additional Ontario locations as well as locations in Puerto Rico.

In March 2011, Hot Topic made a public statement citing the shutdown of ShockHound. The site is no longer live, all merchandise was moved to, and the company ceased sales of MP3s.[citation needed]

In 2012, Hot Topic launched Blackheart Lingerie, a concept store that sells sexy, edgy lingerie and clothing for women.[10] Blackheart has since dropped the Lingerie name and carries an eclectic collection of Blackheart brand dresses, shoes, accessories and lingerie with an emphasis on merchandise from bands such as the Grateful Dead, Pantera, Mötley Crüe, and Misfits.

Tour sponsorship[edit]

The company sponsored the 2004 Ozzfest concert tour,[11] the 2005 through 2007 Sounds of the Underground tour,[12] the 2008 Taste of Chaos tour,[13] and had a stage at and sponsored the 2008 and 2009 Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival tours.[14]

Hot Topic Foundation[edit]

The Hot Topic Foundation was formed at the California Community Foundation in 2004, focusing on encouraging children and youth in the pursuit of music and the arts. It has granted approximately $4 million to more than 70 organizations throughout the U.S.[15] Recipients have included the Chicago International Children's Film Festival,[16] Little Kids Rock,[17] Heart of Los Angeles,[18] MIND Institute,[19] the Chicago Humanities Festival,[20][21] Rock Against Cancer,[21][22] Inner-City Arts, Big Thought, IFP Chicago, Spy Hop Productions, Footlights Inc., Carolina Studios Corp and the KIPP Bayview Academy.[21] Money is raised through sales of guitar picks, exclusive music compilations, mints, and reusable shopping bags.[23]


  1. ^ Hot Topic, Inc. Reports 1st Quarter Financial Results
  2. ^ a b c Hot Topic (HOTT) annual SEC income statement filing via Wikinvest
  3. ^ a b Hot Topic (HOTT) annual SEC balance sheet filing via Wikinvest
  4. ^ a b "Hot Topic Annual Report 2007" (PDF). Hot Topic, Inc. 2008-04-28. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  5. ^ "100 Best Companies To Work For 2006". Fortune 500. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  6. ^ Sycamore Partners to Buy Hot Topic for $600 Million
  7. ^ Harris, Lynn (April 6, 2005). "Living large". Salon. Retrieved February 26, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Hot Topic, Inc. Reports February Comp Store Sales Up 0.2% and Restatement to Change Lease Accounting". 
  9. ^ "Hot Topic to open shops in Canada". 2010-06-21. Retrieved 2014-02-26. 
  10. ^ Misener, Jessica (2012-11-01). "Hot Topic Launching 'Blackheart' Lingerie Line For The Romantic Mall-Goth In You". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2014-07-16. 
  11. ^ Ratliff, B (2004-07-16). "Rock Review: Ozzfest Trudges On, Laden With Sponsors and Politics". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  12. ^ "Official Website". Sounds of the Underground. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  13. ^ Peters, M (2007-12-20). "Avenged Sevenfold, Atreyu Set For Taste Of Chaos". Billboard. 
  14. ^ [1][dead link]
  15. ^ "California Community Foundation – Hot Topic Foundation". California Community Foundation. 
  16. ^ "CICFF Home". Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  17. ^ "Little Kids Rock: Music Matters". Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  18. ^ "Support HOLA – Sponsors". Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  19. ^ "MIND Institute Annual Report" (PDF). 2007-12-31. p. 7. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  20. ^ "Chicago Humanities Festival 2008 Annual Report" (PDF). 2008-02-29. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  21. ^ a b c "Hot Topic Foundation – Charities". Archived from the original on 2008-06-30. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  22. ^ Albin, A (2008-05-29). "Rock Against Cancer and Hot Topic Foundation Support Music Therapy Program at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA". UCLA Health System. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  23. ^ "Hot Topic Foundation". Retrieved 2008-12-09. 

External links[edit]