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JON FELDMAN OF GRAND STREET LOCAL EXPLAINS WHY WE WILL MOSTLY BUY VINTAGE IN THE FUTURE
The past few years has seen the fashion resale market explode from a once-modest subculture of aficionados and bargain hunters to a multi-billion dollar market. Figures state that second hand has grown 21 times faster than the retail market over the past three years, with the US market alone predicted to reach $41bn ($31bn) by 2022, according to resale marketplace ThredUp. The rapid ascent of the resell market has been fuelled by changing consumer attitudes towards sustainability, luxury and the concept of ownership. Much of the growth can be attributed to the millions of teenagers and 20-somethings who are shaking up the fashion industry by digging out their parents’ cast-offs, raiding charity shops and scanning boot sales to build mini businesses online.
But it’s not just digital resell platforms like Depop, Grailed and Vestaire Collective who are riding the success of the resell wave. Physical vintage stores are also winning over customers thanks to their forward thinking approach to curating their vintage collections with tight edits that appeal current trends in culture. Brooklyn vintage store GRAND STREET LOCAL is one of the growing number of vintage stores in New York, alongside names like Round Two and Procell, who merchandise their rails of vintage more like a high-end boutique, rather than the crammed racks you’d usually associate with a thrift store. Owners Jon Feldman and Jenna Feldman, are making second-hand shopping easier by editing their vintage into stories; think throwback band tees, sportswear and vintage Americana – each of which is then further ordered by colour and size. The store, which has been open since 2017, recently benefitted from the opening of Supreme’s Brooklyn outpost, which draws hundreds of young consumers through their doors everyday.
The growing interest in vintage amongst Gen-Z crowd, has made Grand Street Local a hot-spot for kids looking to get some real authentic streetwear history to style alongside their new threads. Jon, an OG streetwear collector himself, is conscious of the new audience and their shopping habits. Throughout the store he ties the past and present together, showcasing original streetwear items like Jordan 1’s and SB Dunks – sneakers which have become hot commodity thanks to the slew of recent Nike collaborations with the influential names like Virgil Abloh and Travis Scott. Else wear items like the store’s vast collection of rare band tees have also been a hit amongst young shoppers who are looking to get in on the style that rappers like ASAP Rocky and Playboi Carti have popularised in recent years with classics like Nirvana tour shirts and metal tees being some of the most sought after. These music relics have become the new wearable version of vinyl collections for the instagram generation.
Curious to find out more on how the vintage market is evolving and how Grand Street Local is catering to the new wave of thrift-savvy consumers we visited Jon at Grand Street Local to talk tees, telling stories behind vintage and the importance in educating consumers on vintage shopping.
Denim Dudes: You’ve changed the curation of the store quite a bit since we were last here. What was the idea behind that?
Grand Street Local: We’re always changing things around! I’d say we really just wanted to fill out this store with a great range of product. We try to do everything from the 40s to the 90s, and that goes beyond just the clothing. It’s the fixtures, the other décor and the things that are available in the shop. So we really just wanted to round it out, fill out the store and just try to tell a bit of a story of the blend of vintage that we enjoy.
DD: Are you conscious in the way you order the garments?
GSL:Yeah we are. You know, it’s like you walk in to a big kind of vintage space and if everything is not really organised, it kind of it hurts for a second to think about where to even start. We put it in category order and then color order, and then within those colors we hang in size order. So we’ll be larger sizes towards the back of each color. And for us, that helps for when customers come in and they need a bigger size or they know that they only wear black t shirts. They know that they’re going to the music, an automotive section and they’re looking at the black shirts. And that’s really what they want. So it’s it’s nice to have. It makes things a little cleaner or more organized. And it lets us know where everything is to help the customer also.
DD: How would you say you’ve seen the vintage scene change over the past few years?
GSL: I think one of the biggest things that’s changing is the younger kids that were always into more streetwear stuff and then they’re getting into heritage brands, kind of like Kapital or RRL, and that type of thing. And it’s kind of starting to open their eyes and then they look for the vintage pieces that a lot of these brands are remaking. They have started looking for that original piece. Even when you shop top brands that produce exclusive products, you can still end up wearing the same thing as someone else. But when it comes to vintage, it’s kind of like that one was worn so specifically and washed so differently for 30, 40, 50 years that every piece is so truly unique. I think that’s that’s what really people are looking for.
DD: This new resurgence in vintage amongst youth has also driven brands to dig back into their own archives too. Do you help source vintage for have any big New York brands?
GSL: Yeah, absolutely. We get all types of brands that come through and look for inspiration or they are doing a shoot for a collection and they need specific items. Just recently, someone that just released a shoe with Nike came through and got some stuff for them to use for decor at their shoe sneaker released party. We’ve also worked with shows like SNL and some other things like that. We’re in talks with beverage brands right now about curating a vintage collection with them. So it’s a bit of a mix. It’s kind of like there really are a lot of opportunities that can stem from having a little bit of a museum, a kept collection of cool and unique and rare goods.
DD: Are vintage T-shirts something that’s become a big focus point for the store?
GSL: For sure. I’d say T-shirts are definitely are our number one seller. And at the end of the day, even, you know, if it’s cold out or if it’s hot out, everyone’s wearing a t shirt. It’s a it’s a base.
DD: What do you think has been the biggest driver in the interest around vintage band tees right now?
GSL: Celebrities and influencers definitely have a big influence. Even down to certain colors, like Brown is kind of an it colour right now. And there are certain things like that that you see a few people do it and then it kind of catches on like wildfire.
DD: Yeah. Well, even if you think about the whole tie-dye wave. That was something that came back in a huge way.
GSL: That’s been absolutely insane for us. I feel like especially during spring summer tie-dye normally does really well. The brighter colors are a bit more fun. One of the things that we’ve been doing as a shop is custom tie-dying things and even starting to explore fall and the darker colours for the colder seasons for tie-dye instead of your classic bright blues and greens. And we’re going with the darker hues like maroon, burgundy, olive and navy. It’s got a different kind of look to it. But I think that as much as tie dye and all that stuff came back super hard this summer, that this next year it’s going to be more about kind of like the fade, the sun fade. The wear down, the washes, the really distressed stuff. I think that’s going to be a bit more popular going into the future.
DD: Obviously fashion has its own trends, but then vintage also has its own sub-trends too. How do you track what is coming and going?
GSL: Sometimes it’s just the stuff that we personally enjoy and like and think works together. And sometimes it’s as simple as you start to hear a few people come in and ask for the same thing, and then you’re like, hey, this is what the people want at the moment. But a lot of the big major brands, you know, they look to the vintage kind of houses like us to pull inspiration for their future brands and almost look to us for the trend forecasting. So it’s a bit of a cycle and a bit of a range. But for us, we just do what we like and it works out.
DD: I think there’s definitely a shift that’s happening with stores like Grand Street Local and the way that you will curating your collections; having tight edits on eras and genres. People aren’t just looking to the catwalk anymore. There seems to be a greater focus on vintage right now from both consumers and designers.
GSL: Yeah. Absolutely. I think also people start to realize that, you know, you could go to Bloomingdales or Nordstrom and they’re doing these ripoffs of these rock shirts. And to be honest, I’ve had some of the real ones of what I’m seeing in the stores, and some of them are made very well. So much so you can’t really tell until you get up close and you know the details. But again, I think people are seeing those and then being like, ‘oh, that’s like, okay. But I want the original.’ And that’s why I think vintage will always reign supreme for a certain category that continues to get wider and wider.
DD: There’s data suggesting that the resale market is outpacing fast-fashion. Do you notice a wider demographic of consumers coming through the doors or the store now compared to 3 years ago?
GSL: Yeah, I definitely do. I think that there are certain vintage companies that really push the whole sustainability and reusable factor a little bit more. Even for us, we’re open to buy, sell and trade. One of the reasons we do this is because so many people have so much cool stuff in the back of their closet and there’s so much great stuff out there already that I think it’s about being able to reverse those things back and forth. That’s why I think instead of getting something from a new brand that’s only going to hold up for a few seasons or a few washes, I think it’s more important to get an older piece that is already sturdy. For example, I wore my my deck jacket today. It’s from 1943, which is more than seventy years old and its still going strong, keeping me warm. So I think that that I think vintage is going to reign supreme because the quality and the condition.
DD: And I think as consumers become more socially aware and more stores like yourself make vintage easier to shop its only going to become more of a viable channel for shopping.
Yeah, I agree. I mean, to be honest, what we did here is we really tried to visit every other vintage store we could and then think about what we want to see and then maybe what these other places weren’t doing that we wish they did. When we first opened, one of the most specific vibes for the shop was to include items like one of those original Air Jordan Nike Wings logo tees from 1985 underneath the 1940s deck jacket and just that blend of like classic old vintage with more streetwear pop culture stuff that we grew up on. But for us it’s really important to tell the story a little bit as well. Even having a good amount of the original 1985 Air Jordan stuff, people come in and they pick up the shoes and it’s cool to see their face light up as they’ve never actually seen them in person and never had a chance to hold them. And so for us, it was important to also have a little bit of a space that was a little bit of a museum, that was also a good cultural spot, and also about telling a story and teaching a lesson. So it’s not just about like finding random stuff and throwing it on a hanger. For us, it’s more about telling the story of a world that we kind of just enjoy.
DD: And I guess, yeah, having Supreme next door with the younger demographic who come through to your store after and might see an item like the Jordan, it’s great that you share knowledge and educate them.
GSL: Yeah. I mean even in here we have these three pair of original 1s right now sitting on a skateboard. That’s telling a visual story. I mean in the late 80s, a lot of these guys that were skating were skating in Jordan 1s because it was a great high-top. They had good support and it was a cool shoe. Again, that’s one of those little like nods we’ll throw out there that some people get and some people don’t. So it’s just it’s definitely interesting being next to Supreme. And it’s funny, too. I think I mentioned this when we were speaking at Kingpins show last summer, Supreme drop a lot of great pieces, but they’ll drop a lot of stuff that just inspired by these vintage pieces. So it’s kind of interesting as they’ll have a release, but we have like literally the original military jacket they just dropped like an M-65. And it’s like we have that here. I think that’s a cool thing that we have that parallel on the block together.
DD: And is there a nice community of like minded stores in this area?
Yeah, absolutely. I mean we’ve been in this area for quite a bit. You have our previous shop FELTRAIGER across the street which we were in for four years and then we opened Grand Street Local a little over two years ago. There wasn’t too much on the street then. And now, Supreme is here, Tommy Hilfiger and Best Made just opened on our block. So a lot of things are coming to this area and with that also come a lot of like minded people that are into cool stuff and they’re just looking for the next thing. So it’s a good little neighborhood around here.