Steampunk fashion refers to a combination of Victorian Gothic style and futuristic features with some steam-inspired reinvention and science fiction elements. A pair of lace gloves is a quintessential steampunk accessory. “We specialize in gloves in all sizes from babies to adults,” said Tracey Williams Salbacka of Steampunk Wolf. “Black lace is the most popular type of gloves sold in the past eight years and literally 75% of what we sell year round is black. It really adds a touch of class to any outfit when you wear gloves. Jeans and a t-shirt or fancy dresses look more spectacular with gloves.”
Based in Monterey, California, Salbacka found her start in the summer of 2011 while on leave from work from an injury. “I started an Etsy shop with my daughter Audrey, age 14 at the time. We originally were creating clothing for teens and called the shop ‘Seamstress by the Sea,’ but in the photos, she was wearing gloves that I had made her and suddenly we had requests for gloves,” she recalled. “It was kind of crazy how it became our thing very quickly. I got all of my daughter’s friends to help model. We jumped right in and signed up for Artist Alley tables at several Cosplay Conventions.” Initially, her glove offerings were sparse and limited to black and white lace or eco-friendly sock gloves for kids. “But now, we have so many more options and a wider size selection. We continually add more styles and colors to fit kids.” Shortly thereafter, Salbacka changed the name to “Steampunk Wolf,” which helped raise her profile with cosplayers (i.e., costumed players who use fashion accessories to represent a specific character). “Later, we also added some jewelry that fit out steampunk theme,” she said. “By the time we left Etsy and opened our website in 2014, we had been lucky enough to create gloves for Madonna, Carrie Underwood and other celebrities.” These days, the small shop focuses almost exclusively on its distinctive custom glove designs. “We hand make each order and will always custom size. So, if you are plus size or have a special need, like a scar to cover or medical issue like needing a hole for a tube, we are very willing to work with you,” explained Salbacka. “Many of our regular customers have a custom pattern created for them on file so they always get a good fit.” Like a glove!
Salbacka draws design inspiration from movies, books and other pop culture references. “Recently, some of the boys wanted ‘biker boy’ gloves, so we created a new kid-friendly style that is compliant. Our Harry Potter-inspired gloves became a shop favorite almost instantly. I love anything that is inspired by reading books and making something that brings out their imagination,” she shared. “We create gloves that are functional and last past a single use. Many of our kid reps have tested out gloves that held up to some pretty hard play and get outgrown, but not worn out. Our upcycled sock gloves sold out in our Etsy shop every time we listed a batch.”
Steampunk Wolf is gearing up now for Howl-ween! “This is one of my favorite times of year,” Salbacka exclaimed. “Last year, we did our first kids costumes officially and created 22 unique costumes. I personally reach out to everyone that orders and provide pictures, sketches and fabric swatch ideas to help them imagine what I can make a reality. I already have several in the works for this month, including Jasmine and Jessie from Toy Story. I don’t ‘copy’ Disney or other licensed characters but find a way to represent it that is original.”
Want to join the wolf pack? Shop for your own steampunk-inspired gloves and accessories on the shop’s website and join the Steampunk Wolf VIP group here for discounts and to secure a custom design spot.