- Associated Press - Thursday, August 11, 2016

STURGIS, S.D. (AP) - The biker fashion statement has always been made with denim, leather and metal - sometimes spiced up by fishnet and lace.

The fashion scene at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally this year is no different. Many riders still favor jeans and a cotton T-shirt, the can’t-miss attire at the rally.

And yet, trends do trundle forward.

Noticeable mainly among the belles of the biker scene, the hot 2016 rally look features old-school garments like corsets, but also the can’t-stop-staring body paint approach that makes naked people look like they are wearing clothes, animal skins or American flags.

After a day of trolling for trends at the 2016 rally, here is a glance at what’s hot to wear in Sturgis this year.

On Tuesday morning, Andra Stark got cinched into her new corset on Main Street. The garment that tightens the midriff, colored black-purple-gold brocade with front metal hooks, hugged her figure in a slimming way. It also showed off the tattoos on her chest and on the length her arms.

Stark, 35, of Texas, describes her new purchase as “sexy” and “fun.” Back home in Houston, she has a black leather corset and a white one she wore at her wedding in 2011.

Corsets with metal closures in front, like Stark’s, have been best-sellers at Biker’s Den, a clothing store on Main Street in Sturgis. This is the first time the Daytona Beach, Florida-based retailer has sold the design at the Sturgis rally.

Their popularity might be due to the relative ease of putting them on and taking them off, store personnel Aisha Jabouir tells the Rapid City Journal (https://bit.ly/2bjqzjb ). The original corsets, which the store also sells in Sturgis, has lacings both in the front and back that require more effort, she explains.

David Caballero shares the theory to explain a higher-than-average request for U.S. flags this year in his body-painting business.

Most of Caballero’s customers are women, and almost all of them want a “chest piece” or a “corset,” he said. This means they leave his shop, just off Main Street, wearing nothing but body paint and breast pasties.

At the last rally, a lot of women asked for the Confederate flag, said Caballero. But this year the U.S. flag has stolen the spotlight.

Many heads along Sturgis’ Main Street have turned at the sight of women in tiny black bikinis, or chaps over nothing but underwear, or paint in lieu of an actual clothed top.

“Women here like to show their bodies more,” said Rita Farhat, co-owner of Biker’s Den.

She said Sturgis shoppers particularly like designs that showcase their chests, such as shirts with custom-made slits in front.

At Tom’s T’s, a Sturgis business that sells official rally apparel, the best-selling shirt is the “black official.” It simply means a black T-shirt bearing the official rally logo, which incorporates a bald eagle’s head, two bikers, several bison and eagle feathers under the words “Black Hills Motor Classic.”

Since her husband created the official T-shirt three decades ago, the store has sold a bunch at each rally, shop owner Vicki Monahan said. She hasn’t kept track of exactly how many pieces are sold every year.

Other vendors say their most sought T-shirts are those representing Sturgis and South Dakota. For instance, a motorcycle against the backdrop of Mount Rushmore, a skeleton version of Wild Bill Hickok on a horse and Main Street Sturgis filled with bikers.

A vest, leather boots and a head band complete the look.

Patches bearing skeletons, the bald eagle, the Harley-Davidson shield, Native American symbols and the U.S. flag have always been popular at Teo Schizas’ Sturgis rally store.

Schizas hardly had time to talk Tuesday morning as he sewed patch after patch on biker vests, as his customers waited in line.

As expected, this year he has sold a lot of patches bearing the words “Sturgis 2016.” Rally-goers commemorate their attendance this way, said the entrepreneur from Indianapolis.

But he has noticed that Stars and Stripes have been especially popular this year. He pointed to three designs that have stood out: an almost black-and-white rendering of the flag, a bright-colored version with singed borders and the flag in the shape of a skull.

“It’s possibly the election” that is fueling the trend, Schizas says.

___

Information from: Rapid City Journal, https://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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