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Club patrons being rejected for wearing edgy designs: local designer alleges

A Vancouver fashion designer says it’s not just the collection of personal information at nightclub doors under the BarWatch system that has him worried.

Jason Dussault alleges that people wearing his Dussault Apparel designs are being rejected when they try to enter clubs, gay and straight, in the Lower Mainland.

Dussault’s edgy designs feature hoodies with the names Knuckles, Guns, Samurai and Dragon, and his ripped jeans are adorned with skulls. His website says the hoodies are “ponchos for the fashion savvy.”

“When in an all out gunfight in an entire army of bandits, looking good while standing your ground is of the utmost importance,” the site says.

Dussault says his clothes are sold at several stores on Davie St. The unfortunate part is that some people began wearing the hoodies in particular as gang clothing, he told Xtra West. He says he wants no associations with people who are involved in gaybashings, racist attacks or drug dealing.

Dussault adds he has no problems with identification cards being swiped and personal information being collected at bars, so long as it’s not sold or used for anything other than keeping undesirables out of clubs.

But BarWatch member Vince Marino, who operates Pulse Nightclub and the PumpJack on Davie St, says such restrictions are likely more geared to Granville St where gangs have been a problem.

Those designs have never really been a problem in the queer community, he adds. “It’s not their style,” he says.

But a random daytime survey on Davie St showed several people in Dussault and the Christian Audigier Ed Hardy designs.

Dussault says banning people from clubs wearing his designs, is “a terrible censorship issue.”

What’s more, he adds, he’s now tainted as a drug dealer, or [labelled as carrying] this drug dealer line of clothing. “I’m disgusted.”

The BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) agrees that singling bar patrons out for the clothes they wear can be problematic.

“It boils down to this invidious guilt by association, be it by what you’re wearing or who you spoke to,” says BCCLA policy director Micheal Vonn.

Further, if the information is shared with police, “what are the unintended consequences?” she asks.

But BarWatch chairperson John Teti says any dress code issues are those of individual bars and not the organization.

“It is not a policy of BarWatch to bar anybody for the clothes that they wear,” he says.