On an AuH2O stock run a few weeks back, Kate and I came across two labels of note.
One was vintage. One was pretending to be. The label at left hails from a time when shoppers actually gave a shit about where their clothing came from. A time when textile workers had real, live rights.
An International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union tag basically says Hey, no one was killed or injured or forced to work overtime or paid unlivable wages to make this garment you’re buying. Isn’t that cool?!
Sooo cool. Sooo retro. Made in the U.S.A. with morally sound manufacturing practices – the only vintage trend that’ll never make a comeback.
The label at right reads, WE CREATED THIS GARMENT TO STAND OUT FROM ALL THE REST. EMBRACE THE IMPERFECTIONS OF YOUR SHIRT. THE HOLES, STREAKS AND SPOTS HELP CREATE THE “VINTAGE LOOK.”
I smell a vintage-inspired shitshow of verbiage. And it STINKS.
Note to Project E: Damaged things are cool when they’re old and actually have a bit of fucking history attached to them. Not when they’re intentionally beat up, marked up and made in China like everything else.
That being said, an item’s age doesn’t necessarily make damage a foregone conclusion. To imply as much makes me wonder if you know jack about vintage at all.
Vintage means classic styles and good fabric, responsibly produced in a way that enables the resulting garments to stand the test of time. Holes, streaks and spots hardly do it justice.
Ditto for those fugly, double Xs slapped on every synthetic top you import. Blech.
Surprise! Miss me? Good. Ditto. Discussion on the absurdity of Spring’s Retro Trend shall heretofore commence. Clarifying the meaning of “retro” as it relates to style is probs a good place to start. Let’s jack some knowledge from Wikipedia:
Retro is a culturally outdated or aged style, trend, mode, or fashion, from the overall postmodern past, that has since that time become functionally or superficially the norm once again. The use of “retro” style iconography and imagery interjected into post-modern art, advertising, mass media, etc. It generally implies a vintage of at least 15 or 20 years.
You hear that, chickadees? Old shiznat is In. So In that Topshop sent two chicks from its design team over to AuH2O yesterday to spy on us, which was half-flattering and half-absurd. (What’s wrong, Topshop? Is the shitstorm of sparkles and feathers and other overpriced barely-wearables not going as well as you’d hoped?)
Retro basically means stolen from the past. This makes it the easiest trend in the history of trends to thrift, should you choose to incorporate elements of it into your wardrobe. Tie-front blouses, long skirts, printed button down shirts – there’s about nine kajillion of all the above in every shape, size and color in every Salvation Army Family Store and every Goodwill Outlet Center on the planet. For serious.
The tops below were snagged on a stock run earlier this week… before I’d even browsed Shopbop’s latest trend schmend lookbooks. The extent of the Retro sham eventually became clear.
Swearsies, my vintage striped blouse is 100% silk too. Nothing’s wrong with it, aside from the fact that it’s been duplicated, coined the “Clean Sheer Striped Shirt” and perverted by Madewell‘s $95.00 pricetag. Grossness.Am I on glue here, or does the earth-toned, Safari-inspired trend thing happen EVERY SINGLE SPRING and just rotate what it calls itself? I guess this year it’s masquerading as Retro; next year it’ll be Natural or something equally vague. Whatever.
A few small differences between my thrift find and its retail copy, err, inspiration (also by Madewell – someone on that design team def digs Goodwill.) One: Mine is linen – a fabric of equal caliber to silk, IMHO. Two: Mine is olive, as opposed to poop brown. Onto the prints!Okay, okay, I’m aware that the Tommy Bahama number at left isn’t objectively attractive. It could possibly be deemed ugly as sin. Guess what? I don’t give a RAT’S ASS. I think it’s AMAZING. I think it’s my favorite top I own right now, and I think I’m going to wear it all spring and summer, possibly to family events, where it will undoubtedly embarrass my mother.
My feeling is, if you’re gonna go tie-front, go big or go home, and if you’re gonna go print, go loud while you’re at it. I wore it to work yesterday, assuming it’d be slow because it was a weekday and the weather was absolute shite. We ended up getting slammed for the bulk of the afternoon, which obvs means that in addition to being awesome, the Tommy Bahama is also lucky.
For today’s version of the aforementioned lucky top, see the Adhan Sleeveless Blouse by Equipment. It’s a little less loud and little more modern… I might even call it cute. Oh, except it’s effing two hundred and forty two dollars.
I’m sorry, but a top costing more than two Benjamins better take ten pounds off, make my boobs look perkier, go with every thing I own, and have a lifespan of approximately 75 years. If it doesn’t do any of the above, it’s not a top at all. It’s a FELONY.
Peacey outtie and a big fat MWAH.
Clothes-by-the-pound options in this city are slim at best. While the Goodwill Outlet Center has afforded me my fair share of cheap thrills in the past, the act of tackling it in earnest is exhaustifying. Also occasionally nauseating. The responsibility of stocking a vintage/thrift boutique means I’ve recently found myself in dire need of GOC alternatives.
You’re probs thinking “Hang the eff on. You mean you stock stuff you buy by the pound, and sell it individually for a higher price?” You bet your ass I do, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. When you’re stocking a vintage/thrift boutique, and you want to keep your price points reasonable – cheap, even – you’ve gotta go off the grid to find the goods. Our stock costs are lower than most because a shit ton of time and energy goes into finding what we eventually sell. This enables us to tack on a small convenience charge for our efforts in lieu of the offensive mark-ups often seen at other vintage/thrift stores – a fair trade off, methinks.
Revealing where I get some of my stock could, perhaps, result in a loss of business, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take. My feeling is, if you’ve got the cojones to go where I go and shop how I shop, I’m not about to deprive you of the opportunity to do so; inclusion begets positive shopping karma. On that note, let’s talk about Green Village Junk Shop.
There’s two apparel options at Green Village: Priced per piece and priced per pound ($2.00 per lb). The per-pound option has one small catch: You gotta buy ten pounds or more to get the deal. Ten pounds of clothing might sound like a lot, but believe you me, it adds up fast. The back bins at Green Village aren’t just a more manageable, pared-down version of those at Goodwill Outlet Center. They’re a vintage fiend’s dream: Retro fabulosity lurks beneath the donated muck. Dig hard, hunt enthusiastically, and here’s a preview of what you might find:
The thriftastic awesomeness above obvs didn’t magically reveal itself to me at the get-go; two to three hours of aerobic foraging is the standard for a haul of this caliber.
My shopping stamina mirrors that of a European tourist at Century 21 these days: I had enough energy at the end of my apparel browse to dig for accessories, which proved equally enthralling.
There was, of course, the issue of travel; first to the laundromat to sanitize, then home to my apartment. Hauling thirty pounds of stock around on foot isn’t fun by a long shot, but trying everything on when it’s still warm from the dryer sure as hell is. A warm and fuzzy end to a job well done.
Green Village, I love you. Viva la thrift.
I recently spotted a pair of SICK Jeffrey Campbell shoes whilst browsing Shopbop (one of my many procrastination tactics).
The line coined them Boxxy Suede Booties; I was drawn to them for their oxford-esque appearance, and heavily dig the fact that they lace up the front. What makes them booties anyway, the extra inch of material around the ankle area? Debatable.
I’d been on the hunt for chunky oxford pumps for MONTHS when I happened upon these. Unfortunately, they bore a slightly unnerving price tag of $190.00 – I don’t THINK so. I figured I’d keep an eye on them until they went on sale. They got slashed to $130.00 a few days later, and my size subsequently flew out the door before I could click my way to claiming them. Sadface!
In my experience, trying to find a specific kind of shoe at a resale or thrift shop is an exercise in futility. I always give the shoe section a once over – if I find something decent, yay – but I never go in for footwear alone. I tried scouring for chunky oxfords at Buffalo Exchange – no dice. (The East Village location is in DIRE NEED of cute size 7/7.5 shoes btw. Egads!) Then, I remembered Metropolis Vintage had a kickass selection of mint condition boots, booties, loafers, oxfords, flats, et. al. I also remembered seeing a 20% Off Entire Store sign in their window last time I walked by. Me likey.
Wood soles, lace up oxford-styling, contrast stitching, gently worn in sans damage – an awesome alternative to my initial choice, methinks. Cheaper too! The oxford pumps were tagged at $45.00, i.e. $36.00 @ 20% off. Oh, right, I live in New York, where the government recently repealed the no-tax rule on items under $110. Jackholes, all. So my grand total was $39 and change.
Still. In comparison with the $130.00 Jeffrey Campbell’s I THOUGHT I wanted, I suppose I can stomach the tax. For now.
Unrelated sidebar: Everyone hear the news about Alexa Chung’s new show, Thrift in America? Pretty cool that resale’s finally getting some celeb-endorsed TV love. I’m uber psyched to see what PBS comes up with (and to see what Alexa’s idea of shopping on a budget is, obvs).
I just thought the eighteen or so editors who rejected my Cheap JAP book proposal – not because they weren’t wildly entertained by it, but because a “first-time author” writing about an “unfamiliar industry” just wasn’t a wise choice from a monetary standpoint – might want to re-think their argument. And maybe get some balls while they’re at it. Bah!
My flea market-specific price point standard is fairly straightforward: $15 or under, and I’ll consider buying it. ‘Consider’ being the operative word. Alas, much of the vintage offerings at hipsterburg’s Artists and Fleas are spectacularly overpriced. Shocking, I know. The chicness of the atmosphere and/or cool factor of the neighborhood in which said atmosphere exists does not change the fact that I am at a FLEA MARKET and as such, not planning on paying $120 for secondhand shoes, hip as they may be.
Yowzah – that sentence is a borderline-criminal grammatical offense oy veyyy. Moving on.
The reasonably priced vintage goodies lie in the less trafficked areas of Artists and Fleas, so I made my way to the back booths. These ten dollar dreams were found shortly thereafter:
I had the pleasure of viewing Hot Tub Time Machine yesterday evening. Twas a feast for the eyes, what with the radical eighties fashions and all. I kept hitting the pause button every time an epic outfit came onscreen, which turned the 90 minute movie into a three-hour ordeal and tested my BF’s patience. Poor baby.
If I could live in an age of stonewashed denim and neon ridiculousness I would, but I can’t. So I paired the eighties shorts with a seventies top and some present-day wedges instead.
This is called satiating a silly style urge sans looking like you’re en route to a Debbie Gibson concert. Not that there’s anything wrong with the latter.
Oh, come on. You KNOW you loved Debbie too. E-LEC-TRIC YOUTH!