Dressing the part

Escape from ducky-bunny hell.

The Black Squirrel Pub 7289 State Route 43, Kent 330-676-1618. Hours: 4 to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Bar remains open later.

As teens, the punk and goth crowds defined themselves in part through fashion. So it was just a matter of time till someone created punk and goth fashions for the infant.

Chicago native Hillary Wentling was in the vanguard. Automatically, he came out a little rager, she says of her baby. He's this cool little kid, and the dorky baby clothes out there just didn't seem to suit him. So, with the help of her tattoo artist friends, Wentling designed punk-style T-shirts in baby sizes. Today she hawks the clothes on her website, dookiewear.com.

One popular baby shirt reads, "If you pinch my cheeks, I'll kick your ass." Another boasts that "my mom's tattoos are better than your mom's tattoos." Yet another proclaims, "To hell with cookies and milk. Give me titties and beer."

The goth crowd recoils at pastels, and for this reason, baby clothes shopping can be excruciating. "It's ducky-bunny hell," says Darlene Niles, the heavily tattooed metalhead who operates the Atlanta-based Lucky Lil' Devil. Hers was one of the first labels to turn out sable baby-wear, complemented by skull-and-crossbones and bat prints.

For the punk parent, Lucky Lil' Devil offers Sex Pistols and Ramones T-shirts. "Born to suck titties" is a hot seller, as is the T-shirt that says simply, "Boo-f***ing-hoo."

Not all see the humor in profane baby clothes, and both Lucky Lil' Devil and Dookie have their critics. Wentling posts the angry reactions on her website. "I think it's a disgrace that you would put such an awful outfit on your gift from God," rages one writer. Another charges that parents who shop at Dookie are "setting up their children to be ignorant and tasteless as well."

But those voices are drowned out by the happy ravings of adult punks. "Makes me want to get knocked up," writes one woman. Says another, "These clothes kick five different kinds of ass."

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