There are a lot of benefits to buying vintage. There's the price—an older piece will often cost you a lot less than buying new—and there's the exclusivity of finding a piece that no one else will have. Not to mention, the sheer enjoyment from the search and the satisfying thrill of discovery when you stumble upon something truly extraordinary. And men have the benefit of dressing in vintage pieces without looking costumey. After all, the best way to dress like the icons of the past we admire so much is to cultivate a wardrobe of modern pieces and timeless classics from those eras that most inspire you.
But thrifting, as the kids say, can be a bit daunting if you're not used to the process. We caught up with Cale Margol of Gap's Los Angeles-based 1969 denim design studio for some trade secrets. As the head merchant in charge of product development, he's constantly on the look out for inspiration and has become an expert at unearthing second-hand sartorial treasures from vintage shops, flea markets, eBay and Goodwill. Here, he shares his vintage philosophy:
Here in Los Angeles: American Rag, Chuck's, What Goes Around Comes Around and American Vintage. I really like Jet Rag too. And then places like Mister Freedom and the Stronghold offer historical, vintage-inspired pieces that have the kind of old world craftsmanship that I look for as well. Oh, and of course, the Rose Bowl flea market.
It takes patience and some perseverance. It's a bit of a treasure hunt. You need to go with an open mind and just thumb through the racks until you stumble upon something that speaks to you. You can't really go to a flea market or a vintage shop looking for something really specific.
Then the web's your best bet. You'll have much more luck on eBay or Etsy, when you're trying to locate a particular piece. The internet is great for vintage shoes and you can often compare a few different styles before buying.
I'd say that's the most important thing to keep in mind when shopping for secondhand clothes. You can always make it your own. If you like something, don't sweat it if a button's missing or the fit is slightly off. You've got to remember that people are a lot bigger and taller nowadays. You can have things fixed or tailored. I find a lot of shirts and coats that I love, but the cut is boxy. I just have them taken in. It's all part of the process, but it's worth it. A little nip and tuck and they're now even more unique.
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