Published: May 23, 2023
Review & Onsite Photos by Z.G. Burnett
SOUTHBRIDGE, MASS. — The Threadbare Show at LaSalle Reception Center opened to its most populated gate to date on May 7, with a line of around 100 early buyers lining up hours before opening. Attendance was 60 percent above the show’s record high attendance, and much of this was due to opening numbers alone. “We continue to invest in promoting the show in ads on Instagram and Facebook targeting customers in our region with relevant interest areas as well as with print advertising and event-based promotions,” said Adam Irish, owner of Old As Adam, Newport, R.I., and founder of the Threadbare Show.
“However, it is thanks to our exhibitors who actively help promote the event by sharing it with their customers that we credit the show’s success.” Irish looks forward to the Threadbare Show’s debut in Dumbo, Brooklyn, N.Y., on June 23 and 24, where many of the market’s dealers are already based. In its third season, Threadbare already has its regulars among the 40-dealer roster but also welcomed a number of new businesses. Some of these had shopped at the show before or shown at other markets, while others were attending and setting up at Threadbare for the first time. The majority of dealers reported healthy sales, especially in the first few hours of the day.
One such dealer was Sheryl Roberts, founder of The Collective at Indigo Style Vintage, Brooklyn, N.Y. Roberts was born and raised in Texas whose passion for vintage clothing was nurtured by visiting garage sales and flea markets with her mother, an antiques dealer. Her expertise grew as a runway, showroom and print model, as well as a professional actress. As the only dealer of color at Threadbare, Roberts also showcases brands and makers of color through the Collective, which “serves as an inclusive meeting place for all to shop, educate and commune.” Her stock includes garments from midcentury couture to sequin bustiers from the 1980s, and beyond. After the show, Roberts shared that it was “a good learning experience,” and plans to do the Dumbo Threadbare in June.
Also from Brooklyn, N.Y., was Joanna Bovay of Time Lords Vintage, who was new to Threadbare but has been selling vintage clothing since 2010. Time Lords espouses the maxim of “quality, not quantity,” and offers “needful things for your personal collection.” Bovay showcased a silk and cotton child’s crazy quilt coat, embroidered “Patsy ‘37” on the back, and a large carpet bag. The booth’s colorful racks slowly emptied throughout the morning. “Sales were great, above my expectations,” Bovay said later. “Especially in the first two hours.” Time Lords plans to show again at Threadbare’s next event.
The Times Vintage came from the farther afield town of Greenport, N.Y., on Long Island, where Lizzy Sweigart and her father Michael operate a psychedelic shop filled with vintage clothing, home furnishings and vinyl records, whose displays are created by Sweigart’s partner, Ricky Teevee. Sweigart displayed a swinging selection of garments dating from the 1960s to the 1990s, with all the florals, denim and rayon that these eras promise. Each piece was in excellent condition and the joy in its assembly was palpable. “We had a wonderful first experience at Threadbare! It was one of the funnest shows I’ve done!” she wrote the following week. “Would definitely love to do it again.”
Another newcomer was Garret Miller of Western Gifts, formerly of Los Angeles and currently seeking a new location in the Northeast. As the shop’s name suggests, Miller specializes in American vintage but also sources antique European garments. One rack in his booth was devoted to early Twentieth Century French stage costumes made by costumer Aristide Boyer, Marseille, each showing the manufacturer’s stamp on their interiors, and four of these sold during Threadbare. “They only really go to the right type of looks,” Miller commented, adding that he had a wonderful show and met “a lot of very supportive and friendly folks.” He looks forward to the next show.
Western Gifts’ neighbor was Mind’s Eye Vintage, which first opened in Oakland, Calif., in 2012 and specializes in workwear, denim and folk art. Mind’s Eye is just one of the businesses owned and operated by Maya Messoriano, who also manages Ghost Road Objects, Art & Oddities. Both of these businesses are housed in Easton, Penn., and can be shopped online through Mind’s Eye’s website and Ghost Road’s Etsy page. One of the more eye-catching pieces in Messoriano’s booth was a large papier mache character head of Mickey Mouse, that topped a leather jacket and tee-shirt clad mannequin, which matched the casual clothing and workwear offered. Mickey’s tee sold during Threadbare, but found a new shirt for his appearance at the Sturbridge Show the next day.
Design Source Archive, New York City and New Hampshire, is a library of vintage and antique textiles from the Eighteenth Century through the 1970s, numbering more than a million designs in 200 categories. The company’s first-time booth was filled with a number of antique and vintage swatch books, fragments, notions, yardage and clothing. Their stock was a delight to visiting designers and collectors alike, and if one did not collect textiles beforehand, the booth may have created some converts with its reasonable pricing. One piece on display was a collection of Zira Cigarette silks, which were artfully stitched together by their collector on a piece of linen. The silks mostly showed animals and flowers, with some historical figures and military orders, and were dated circa 1900-15.
Offering one of the most sparkly garments at a vintage fashion show is quite a feat, and Sideshow Vintage, Craryville, N.Y., brought a serious contender. Immediately eye-catching, a bedazzled denim jacket hung prominently in its booth, airbrushed with a tropical scene featuring a couple in matching bathing suits, the letters spelling out “Puerto Rico” and showing the bulk of the jacket’s rhinestones. Although the souvenir jacket was not signed, it appeared to be in the style of Tony Alamo of Nashville, whose creations were worn by a number of 1980s celebrities and briefly came back into fashion in the last 2010s. Even without this attribution, the jacket is still considered a work of art by admirers, and was priced $425.
Rocket to Mars, Providence, R.I., showed at the Sturbridge Show in years past, and decided to give Threadbare a try. Selling in its shop and on Etsy, the brand also operates Rocket to Mars Home and Mr Bill’s Haberdashery online. In addition to racks of womenswear, shop owner Jennifer brought a fabulous selection of shoes and accessories in excellent condition. Two pairs of shoes stood out among the handkerchiefs and deadstock sunglasses displays. One was a pair of wooden mule sandal pumps, hand painted in Vietnam for $400, and came with extra heel pads. The others were a pair of silk-lined slipper pumps with maribou feathers from Frederick’s of Hollywood, founded in 1947 and still operating online, for $300. Both pairs of shoes retained their original boxes and appeared to be in unworn condition.
“Threadbarians,” as dealers at the show have come to be known, have begun to bring earlier pieces, attracting collectors and institutions with museum-quality goods. Brooke Nault of Daisy & Stella Vintage, formerly of Wisconsin and is now located in Minnesota, where she founded the new Twin Cities True Vintage Show. Daisy & Stella had one of the largest concentrations of Victorian and Edwardian garments in a range of prices. An iridescent green gown consisting of a silk jacket with oblong buttons, a skirt and bustle from the 1880s adorned one of Nault’s mannequins was firmly tagged at $1,000. Facing this and at $400 was an antique fringed silk dress from Duval & Eagan Robes, New York, that was also from the late Nineteenth Century. This lower price point was due to a repair needed under the right underarm.
The La Salle Reception Center is at 444 Main Street. The next Threadbare Show will be at 26 Bridge Street, Brooklyn, N.Y., on June 23-24. For tickets and information, www.threadbareshow.com.
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