Vintage fashions on a student budget

With the increasing popularity of vintage clothing, accessories and shoes, many secondhand shops have become more expensive, leaving students in search of stores that sell good-quality garments at affordable prices. Ali Vasiloff, store manager at Buffalo Exchange in Santa Monica, believes that buying secondhand clothing has become trendy in part because people are being more cautious about the environment, and are drawn to the idea of recycling clothes.

“People like the uniqueness of the clothes,” says Vasiloff. “[They are] not cookie-cutter.”

The typical Buffalo Exchange customer is, according to Vasiloff, “relaxed and casual with a bohemian-chic style, trendy, and in touch with the environment in a beach-loving kind of way.”

Most secondhand stores like Buffalo Exchange have a policy of only selling clothes in good condition, which have been gently worn and freshly washed. Some clothes are even brand new.

“Many of the people we buy from are working in the fashion industry,” says Vasiloff. “[These] stylists sell [us] brand new clothes, or clothes that only have been worn once.”

Cherry Picked Foundation, a local Westside non-profit organization, has a thrift boutique on Pico Boulevard, where shoppers may be able to find bargains. All clothes at the boutique are donated, and the money the store makes from sales goes to various other non-profit organizations.

“Since I was little, I was used to hand-me-downs from my siblings,” says Justine Roncone, founder of Cherry Picked Foundation, who has worn used clothes her entire life.

“Just give it a try,” Roncone says to those who may overlook the possibility of buying secondhand. “Go in and experience it before you turn it down. We will please some and not others, but we will try.”

“I like vintage because the clothes have the trendy, worn look to them,” says Santa Monica College student Daniel Carlsson. “I also like that every item has a story behind it, and many times the sales assistants can tell you something about the garment.”

“[Wasteland on 4th Street has] a lot of good stuff for men as well as women,” says Carlsson, of his favorite vintage store in Santa Monica. “You have to have patience, but when you do find something you like, it’s worth it.”

When searching for secondhand clothes, store employees and shoppers both suggest allowing a significant amount of time for shopping, and not necessarily searching for something in particular, but being open to the unique items available.

“I would say, spend at least 30 minutes to an hour in the store,” Vasiloff says. “Look through everything, and try on a lot of items. Even if a garment doesn’t look fabulous on the hanger it can be amazing when it is worn.”

Vasiloff also points out that it can be helpful to visit stores often, because many shops receive new items weekly, or even daily.

“Sometimes when the store buys an item in the morning, it is already on the racks in the afternoon,” Vasiloff says of Buffalo Exchange.

Some stores in Santa Monica offering vintage clothing items and accessories include Cherry Picked Thrift Boutique at 2807 Pico Blvd., Buffalo Exchange at 2449 Main St., Wasteland at 1338 4th St., Crossroads Trading Co. at 1449-B 4th St. For those in search of high-end vintage fashions, secondhand shoppers can visit Haute Seconds at 2721 Wilshire Blvd. and AdDress Boutique at 1116 Wilshire Blvd.