Thrifting rose to mainstream popularity slowly over the past few decades, with media and celebrity influence. By the early 2000’s the reminiscent ‘vintage’ style was suddenly in—and in it remains. Despite this specific stylistic trend, true vintage, unlike thrifting, has been in for much longer than its secondhand sibling. Vintage items have been sold at estate sales and antique shops for centuries, often at a higher price point because of the rise in value of these goods once they proclaim their scarcity. Too often have thrift and vintage been confused for each other, especially in terms of wardrobe, when the former implies a (generally lower) price point of shopping, and the latter an exclusive selection of time stamped clothes that retain value by their datedness. When kids go to L-train, despite popular opinion, they are not in a vintage shop, rather a curated thrift shop with the occasional vintage good that turns up on a rack.
The romanticism surrounding vintage relies on the idea of the merchandise being of limited and unique quantity. Supply and demand. Everyone wants to be an individual, and what better way to present yourself as so, than with a limited edition shirt not found on any other online retailer’s website? Brands caught up with this mentality, however, and many commercial retailers have started their own ‘vintage’ line, warping the definition of vintage even further. Urban Outfitters, with their urban renewal line, promises personalized, one-of-a-kind vintage goods. Even Topshop has started a vintage line. Yet, among all this hype surrounding vintage goods, what these shops and their new vintage lines lack is the story and specialty behind their ‘vintage’ pieces.
A piece of clothing can be a piece of history and a piece of art. Commercial retailers lack the vintage dealer’s eye and patience to collect and care for such goods, thus often resorting to second hand, thrifted and repurposed goods as a substitute. But for real vintage lovers, nothing is more satisfying then holding the piece of clothing your hand and knowing the history and novelty behind it.
For any vintage lover out there, here are several shops around NYC known for their special collection of vintage goods.
A staple vintage shop in the East Village, Tokio 7 was started in 1995 by Japanese owners and grew, by word of mouth, to be a cult favorite in lower New York. Celebrities and socialites as well as tourists and locals frequent the tiny shop on 7th street. It carries a wide variety of clothes ranging from designer favorites like Prada and Chanel to local designers and limited-edition goods. To this day, Tokio 7 does not have social media (no instagram *gasp*), yet retains its strong following by its loyal customer base and truly unique selection of merchandise.
The epitome of the NYC cool kid scene that has evolved since the 90’s, Procell captures all the subcultures prevalent in Manhattan’s lower east side, from the skaters to rappers, disco-heads to graffiti artists. What makes Procell so special, says founder Brian Procell, is that there are “no filler(s) – every piece has to be strong on its own.” Since its opening in 2012, it has attracted shoppers from Molls Bair to Frank Ocean. While definitely the more street-style curated of the bunch, Procell maintains its brand variety while still abiding by its cool-kid, street aesthetic.
For every good outfit you need a good pair of accessories to bring the outfit to life. Edith Machinist, located on Rivington street in the LES, possesses an incredible collection of vintage clothes, only upstaged by its huge collection of accessories—Edith Machinist has it all, down to the Gucci scarves and Dior belts. It’s the classy and feminine alternative to it’s streetwear siblings.
Dana Foley, a relatively young vintage brand on Ludlow street is one of the forerunners of vintage shops that emerged from obscurity due to its strong social media game. The shop’s Instagram boasts of decadent influencer girls and customers alike, modeling the clothes and accessories, portraying more of a lifestyle around the brand than just the brand itself. The collection is a mix of funky pieces, classy outfits and sexy dresses. Dana also has a line of new designs, sold next to her vintage collection!
Another brand with a strong Instagram community, Mirth Vintage is located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Mirth Vintage’s style is reflective of it having separated itself from the clutter of the city. With clean cut shapes and solid colors, Mirth’s pieces are classic and timeless, things that everyone needs in their closet.
Which one suits you? Pay a visit to these shops and make the decision for yourself!