Advertisement

Secondhand Woes

While used clothes were once considered nothing more than rags in waiting, increased demand for vintage wear and its correspondingly decreasing supply has made finding decent sharkskin on Melrose Avenue about as likely as finding the shark itself. Used-clothing outlets in South-Central Los Angeles, which for years provided stock to local vendors, are catering more to bigger, predominantly foreign buyers, leaving most smaller secondhand haberdashers with scraps. Even nonprofit thrift stores, some vintage clothiers loudly lament, are drying up as sources, unless the clothiers are willing to strike side deals with store employees, which sometimes means paying for inside info as to when the next donation of pre-1971 Levi’s will be put on the floor, or asking to buy a Swing-wear supply of ‘40s fedoras off the back dock. But perhaps the biggest hit to decent secondhand clothing is the most obvious: Yesterday’s polyester is just plain wearing out. Says Jenny Phillips, assistant manager of Wasteland on Melrose: “Unless we can find a way to go back in time and produce more clothes, good vintage is just going to become tougher to find.”


Advertisement