Published: July 11, 2023
Review & Onsite Images by Z.G. Burnett
BROOKYLN, N.Y. — The Threadbare Show had but a brief reprieve from opening Brimfield week in May before setting up in a brand new location, 26 Bridge Street in Brooklyn, N.Y. Many of Threadbare’s regular dealers travel from the tristate area to the usual location in Sturbridge, Mass., and given the show’s previous success in that location, the Threadbare organizers decided to try something different. The venture paid off; the show saw steady traffic from buyers throughout June 23 and 24, and dealers overwhelmingly reported great sales. In addition to collectors, Threadbare was also shopped by local design professionals and other dealers located in New York City that are often unable to attend in Sturbridge.
Many dealers still traveled from far afield to show at Threadbare. Magnolia Vintage has its own brick and mortar shop in Brevard, N.C., and offers a wide range of athletic wear, workwear and Western clothing. Hanging near the front of their booth was a leather duster coat with fringe on the sleeves, lined in a period blanket. It was made by hand with an awl and thick thread, and had leather straps for closure. The wool blanket lining appeared to be from the 1960s, and the coat could have been as late as the 1970s.
Tammy and Kay of Assassin Vintage, St Louis, Mo., are longtime Threadbare vendors who always bring fantastic finds dating from the 1930s to the 1970s in a range of styles. At this show, they decorated their booth with a trio of original amateur pinup paintings from the 1940s that had been in their collection for 15 years. “We found them in an antique mall, but can’t remember where,” said Tammy. There were two additional paintings, one of which was a cowgirl that sold. “We really enjoyed the show and met so many great, stylish people,” she added.
During a time when bathing suits only last one or two seasons, and only seem to be increasing in price, finding a suit from the Twentieth Century still in wearable condition is surprising, if not astounding. Anoushka’s Attic, Janine Greenberg’s Brooklyn-based vintage business, brought a selection of such swimsuits dating from roughly the 1940s to the 1960s. Anoushka’s Attic is a regular vendor at the Sturbridge Show, and recently started selling at Proprietors in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Greenberg’s daughter and her friend had “a lot of fun” helping out during Threadbare.
Threadbare dealers, by the virtue of “everything comes back around eventually,” are often at the forefront of current trends when stocking their booths. The Falls, Kripplebush, N.Y., designs, creates and upcycles clothing. As described on their website, they “fuse found fashion with artful textile storytelling through embellishment.” The Falls also brings a broad selection of vintage clothing to complement their creations, and one of their showpieces was a 1970s two-piece gown and shawl made from magenta taffeta. The gown ensemble was an original example of the “more is more” ethos of some 1970s couture designers, which is now espoused by many contemporary brands.
Breath of the Earth was another Brooklyn vintage brand making their Threadbare debut, curated by Landis, who has appeared at prior shows assisting Ally Bird Vintage of Jersey City, N.J., which had their own booth nearby. But unlike their colleague, Breath of the Earth focuses on antique and vintage slips and dresses. Their pastel-colored selection of featherlight dresses and slips of all materials was like stepping into a boudoir, the latter of which has become a commonplace sight as hot-weather wear in New York City and elsewhere. “I believe in finding beauty in what already exists. So much of creation is recycled, the natural cycle of the planet, of energy, of ourselves,” Landis writes on the Breath of the Earth website. “It only makes sense to clothe ourselves in the same way, to find inspiration from the past and to mold it to our present.”
Jessica Clowney of Anemoia Vintage, Pittsburgh, Penn., brought a turn-of-the-century gown that embodied this sentiment. Not only did this garment survive over a century in wonderful, wearable condition, but accompanying it was a photograph of the original owner and her companions. Their names are lost to us, but the pairing was a rare opportunity for collectors and designers alike. Clowney, who specializes in clothing from the 1920s to the 1940s, also has been running Pittsburgh’s quarterly Made & Found Market since 2015.
Other garments had a more disquieting history, but were also examples of just how important clothing and fashion history is for examining the historical record. Old As Adam, Providence, R.I., displayed a man’s cotton summer kimono, or yukata, with a propagandistic print of Japanese airplanes attacking New York City. Made in the 1940s, this kimono was part of a fairly new tradition of printmaking in Japan, which added contemporary motifs to traditional images of floral or animal patterns in the beginning of the Nineteenth Century. Nationalist and military motifs were usually seen on indoor clothing, and intended to be worn during private events or as a layer underneath another kimono. In fantastic condition on the exterior, the lining of this piece showed repairs from many wears.
Another dealer new to Threadbare was Mofomelon Vintage, owned and operated by textile design engineer Annesha Watson. Mofomelon shone through Friday morning’s gloomy weather with the bright array of patterns presented in its outside booth, which glowed the next, sunnier day. Many of the garments came from the 1960s and 1970s, and Mofomelo’s booth was decorated to match these eras. “The show went so well, and Saturday was pure chaos in the best way,” Watson shared. “We had a ton of older gems find new homes, which really warmed my heart.”
Fox & Fawn Vintage, Brooklyn, N.Y., displayed the true breadth of clothing available at Threadbare with a possible Chinese opera costume that stood proudly in its booth. Owner Marissa was not entirely sure of this evaluation, but was told by a friend that it may have had Peking origins due to the phoenix motifs on the collar. Although likely meant for the stage, these mythical creatures, the designs on the costume’s belt, outer dress and sleeves were all painstakingly hand stitched. What was sure is that the garment was beautiful to behold, and Marissa invites any information that readers may have about the costume.
Sarah Ming of Lone Dame Vintage, Albany, N.Y., was a Threadbare newcomer who created a shop-like atmosphere in her booth, complete with deadstock (new and unworn) goods that were displayed neatly on shelves. Lone Dame’s clothing dated back to at least the 1920s, and Ming was pleased with her first experience at the show. “I sold some really special pieces and met some nice people,” she said. “I loved getting to see Janine and her girls from Anoushka’s Attic, and getting to know Larry [McKaughan] from Heller’s Café [Seattle, Wash.] was a treat!”
Even in a new location, the Threadbare Show continues to be a networking event as well as a market, bringing dealers and costumers together who may have only met in an online capacity. Many promote themselves through platforms like Instagram and TikTok, sometimes even eschewing traditional websites altogether in favor of selling through these and promoting in-person spaces. These business models’ younger dealers are increasingly employing, and with their success, we can only expect the vintage clothing and resale market to grow in the coming years.
The next Threadbare Show will be back in Sturbridge, Mass., at the La Salle Reception Center on September 3. For additional information, email@example.com or www.threadbareshow.com.
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