From left, Zac Vargas, Ursula and Rebecca Recinos of Sister Kokomo, Rachel Tovar, Ryota Sakai and Dave Gambler
As of Friday, August 30, 2019
In the past few years, there’s been a boom in the popularity of vintage clothing and an increase of high-end vintage stores on retail streets and online.
Retailer Zac Vargas is part of it. He recently opened Space City Vintage in Los Angeles’ stylish Little Tokyo neighborhood. But Vargas wondered if the current wave of vintage shops lacks soul and a culture. He remembered a more experiential type of vintage shopping when he was a youth in the 1980s, shopping for rockabilly styles on Los Angeles’ Melrose Avenue. Dave Gambler, a designer who sells his Cross My Path clothing at Space City Vintage also thought that there’s a shift going on.
“Generations are changing so fast. The stuff that we appreciated is going to fade away,” he said. Gambler also grew up on rockabilly and vintage clothing. It informs his work as a tattoo artist and guitarist. His band Gamblers Mark had a hit song Hellride on the Locals Only program on radio station KROQ 106.7 FM in 2018.
Vargas and Gambler both wanted to produce a shop that does more than commerce. Of course, business is the foundation of the venture, but there’s also presenting art and building a community, as well as offering a hangout for the neighborhood. It’s a mission that Vargas wanted to take on with Space City Vintage. The shop seeks to be an alternative from fast fashion and throw-away culture.
“We want the kids to know what a real hep cat would do,” Vargas said. He reopened Space City Vintage this summer. Previous incarnations of the shop have been in Hollywood and Commerce, Calif. On June 15, he opened a sprawling version of his store in a 5,000-square-foot space on the second floor of a building at 339 ½ E. 1st St.in Little Tokyo.
Space City Vintage will keep one foot in vintage and another in new styles. The shop will devote space to rockabilly-inspired fashion line Delinquent Bros, which is designed by Ryota Sakai. It also will offer Gambler’s Cross My Path clothing. Also on site, vintage clothes sourced by Sister Kokoro and, of course, the Space City Vintage, which is sourced by Vargas. Retail price points for high-end vintage can go for more than $2,000. Core price points for a shirt can range from $20 to $50, between racks of jackets, hep-cat pants and a scooter detailed with a leopard-print paint job that is parked on the shop floor.
Next up, the Space City crew will build a record shop on the premises later this year. Vargas also forecasts building a performance space for musicians. The space also devotes square footage to the LA-UP Gallery. It has been curated by artist Colette Von. Eventually more hot rod art will displayed, Vargas said. But the LA-UP gallery’s space has been free form and has shown everything from photography to painting from emerging artists.