By Margaret Kinney
What do Anthropologie stores and film producers have in common with folks in our neighborhood? Well, they might all be frequent clients of Go Vintage Classic Threads, the latest addition to the West End’s collection of unique retailers.
Owner Kevin Looney began collecting vintage clothing in the early 1980s for his own use. He was and is attracted to the high quality and styles of clothing and accessories manufactured before the 1980s. What started with a serendipitous windfall of 1950s bowling shirts, became a career of collecting and selling sought-after classic attire.
Also a builder, Kevin redesigned and renovated the retail space to resonate perfectly with his clothing displays.
Although Kevin still lucks out and finds the perfect estate sale or individual who might have just the right era of clothing for him to buy, he has regularly traveled far and wide buying and selling. From Manhattan to Santa Monica, he has participated in vintage fairs, making new connections and finding repeat clients. He also scours the internet and Craigslist, picking and choosing individual pieces or entire lots of merchandise. Kevin makes full use of the international market for reselling his pieces. “Some of my best customers are in Tokyo and Paris,” he explained. “They can get three times the resale price there than I can get here.”
Once he gets repeat customers, such as executives from HBO’s series Boardwalk Empire, he knows what to acquire for them and has it ready to go. Sometimes celebrities buy directly from Go Vintage, such as when Matt Damon picked out his 1960s Goodyear jacket for the recent movie Ford v Ferrari.
Luckily for us West Enders, his enormous inventory of enduring men’s and women’s garments has something in everybody’s price range. (My husband, who is a follower of all things film noir, got a 1950s tie for Valentine’s Day.)
“I think what attracts people to vintage clothing is, in addition to having terrific design, they were made so well and can last a lifetime,” says Kevin. “Clothing made now is largely disposable, and contains questionable fibers. I like looking cool and helping the environment at the same time.”
As a visual artist, I view much of his inventory as an art collection. In fact, Kevin has furnished a few museum curators with pieces. As a life-long lover of sewing, I marvel at the construction of the jackets, coats and dresses in his store, and couldn’t help but stroke the silks, cottons, linens and wools.
Kevin is open to buying from the general public, so if you have pre-1980s apparel in good condition, Kevin might want to see it. He also likes to share anecdotes about his years of collecting and selling, so be prepared for some fun storytelling.
Go Vintage Classic Threads, 955 West Seventh: call 651-646-4455 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Hours: Thursday, 12-6; Fri & Sat 12-8; Sun 12-6.
Margaret Kinney is a West End writer and artist, and facilitator of Memoir Writing Workshops.
By Margaret Kinney