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54 Clinton St  New York, NY 10002

The exterior of this Lower East Side shop is like two speakeasies in one. The sign outside tricks shoppers into thinking they’re entering a ’70s nightclub with it’s Studio 54-esque design while the entry area is disguised as an arcade with a wide range of vintage arcade games. Community 54 manages to bring together modern and vintage clothing items in perfect union at reasonable prices. Starter snapbacks line the walls and the clothing racks are filled with vintage varsity jackets, sports jerseys, and graphic tees. The shop also hosts concerts and events in the backyard so shoppers can party and drink while making their street wear purchases. (photo courtesy of jay strut.com)

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Every modern girl on the street wearing baggy denim overalls and Timberland boots is channeling their inner Aaliyah. The late R&B songstress rose to fame in the mid 1990’s with smooth hits like “Age Ain’t Nothin’ But a Number” and was poised to become the generation’s R&B queen until her untimely death in 2001. Aaliyah’s music has continued to achieve commercial success and her fashion influence can be seen on modern day fashionistas. 

With pants that were baggier than most males in the game, Aaliyah exuded tomboy confidence. Low-rise baggy jeans with red and navy patches were held in place by bright red belts. Exposed boxers and Tommy Hilfiger crop tops gave each look a feminine touch. 

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Aaliyah would often wear black sunglasses or metallic eye-patches that gave off a sense of mystery and mystique. Slicked back simple hair added a feminine touch and balanced out the extremity of the shiny eyepatch. Aaliyah focused on contrast and juxtaposition in all of her iconic outfits. Colorblocked undergarments were visible underneath bulky military outerwear and flashy jewelry. Printed bandanas and uniform beanies topped off most looks and gave each look a masculine final touch fans were always waiting for. 

Bright oversized Starter jackets were often slung over her shoulders as she was photographed for various magazines. Simplistic gold body jewelry can be seen in many music videos while basic gray crop tops were also a common sight. Aaliyah’s lasting style influence has helped to revive the denim overall trend. Girls can be seen wearing indigo overalls with one strap dangling limp on one side as they attempt to capture Aaliyah’s boyish confidence. Aaliyah’s mark on the fashion world is exemplified by girls who chose to wear baggy denim overalls and revealing crop tops every day. (photos courtesy of tumblr.com)

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Hip hop and sportswear have always shared a happy marital union. They’ve been banding together since LL Cool J put on his first Kangol bucket hat in the1980s. Who could forget when Snoop Dogg wore a Tommy Hilfiger sweatshirt on Saturday Night Live in the 1990s? Hip hop fanatics would flock to clothing stores to purchase Dickies Pants and Polo Ralph Lauren button-up shirts as soon as they saw their favorite rapper wearing it. Hip hop artists wore clothing that personified the streets and the urban environment. Every rapper had a unique and distinct look that was influenced by their coast (east or west) and musical style.

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Hip hop and sportswear’s relationship has changed drastically in the past few years. Hip hop artists such as Kanye West and A$AP Rocky have taken over the hip hop fashion world in place of favorites like Cam’ron and P. Diddy. Brands including Pyrex Vision, Hood by Air, and Givenchy have infiltrated the hip hop fashion world leaving brands like FUBU and Enyce in the dust. A simple Hood By Air t-shirt retails at $150.00 while a pair of Pyrex basketball shorts can cost as much as $450.00 on eBay.com. These expensive brands have been popularized by a new wave of hip hop artists while followers seem to have forgotten hip hops more humble and individualistic roots. 

 

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I acknowledge the fact that trends change with time. I understand that brands that were popular 10 years ago must undergo the test of time to remain classic. I simply miss the days when hip hop artists wore personal clothing that added to their music and persona instead of their social status and public image. Snoop Dogg climbed to the top of the charts in a flannel shirt while Eminem achieved international success in sweat suits from his Shady clothing line. Popular modern day hip hop artists seem to be straying away from having a personal style by wearing the same high-end designers as everyone their peers.

Hip hop and its artists used to focus on real life issues and personal character instead of high-end designers, conformist style, and name-dropping. I feel that the focus on expensive designers and following trends has added to the argument that hip hop artists are forgetting its roots. Modern day hip hop artists have forgotten about the sports jerseys, Starter jackets, and flannel shirts that defined hip hop fashion. Kanye West used to wear simple Ralph Lauren polos and now he’s only seen in Givenchy leather skirts and Rick Owens shirts. A personal style that defies trends and status is much more hip hop than high class conformity. (photos courtesy of tumblr.com, esquire.com, and bakedtheblog.com)

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151 Orchard St  New York, NY 10002

Reed Space isn’t just a clothing store. It’s exactly what it claims to be: a space. The space is inhabited by employees who are too hip to function and will possibly help you out if you manage to capture their attention. Workers aside, Reed Space showcases some of the most sought after streetwear brands such as 10 Deep, The Hundreds, and Generic Surplus. Shoppers can feast their eyes on the wall decor where street artists’ paintings are for sale. The highlight of the store is the book and magazine section where book nerds can get their rare zine and hard-to-find art book fix. Come for the clothes, stay for the books, and leave because of the staff. (photos courtesy of dirtbagtour.tumblr.com)

ImageAmerican Two Shot has a whimsical and dreamy atmosphere as soon as you step foot inside. Shopping in the store is one giant hazy daze; you probably walked in to purchase a coffee from Café Integral at the entrance of the store but instead walked out $70 poorer with Tupac Shakur/ Biggie Smalls cufflinks in your shopping bag. Shopping at American Two Shot is like a wild Friday night out where you leave the bar not remembering what happened in your drunken daze; you walk out of the store not understanding how you spent so much money in a tiny vintage shop.

 The friendly staff and inviting clubhouse atmosphere makes shoppers feel that it’s perfectly acceptable to drop $60 on chicken wing bucket earrings. Window shoppers that wandered in won’t even notice that they’re contemplating purchasing a $250 vintage jacket with the Jolly Green Giant character printed all over it because the staff is so convincingly nice and genial.

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 It’s refreshing to walk into an upscale store where the staff is friendly and inviting. That’s what makes American Two Shot such a refreshing new Soho boutique. The store was started by two childhood friends, Olivia Wolfe and Stephanie Krasnoff, who wanted to create a community creative space where art, fashion, and friends could comfortably merge. The end result is a store that sells men’s and women’s one-of-a-kind vintage and high-end items from exclusive designers.

 The men’s clothing shelves showcase an abundance of Coca-Cola themed vintage clothing and Reyn Spooner Hawaiian polos that grandpa would approve of. The women’s clothing department has the perfect amount of sex appeal (body cage crop tops by Chromat) and playfulness (bandanas with smiley face prints). There’s something for every vintage shopper in one tiny open space.

The walls are lined with artwork from featured local artists who are usually friends with the owners and the magazine section features quirky knickknacks like kooky greeting cards and vintage matchbooks from places like Studio 54. The prices range for each item and category but the store is a fun place to shop around and hang out with friends. Head to American Two Shot and soak up the cool and friendly atmosphere while looking at the coolest vintage items you most likely haven’t seen since 1987. (photos courtesy of nytimes.com & styleboard.tumblr.com)

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5 Delancey St New York, NY 10002

There’s only one store where shoppers can find Bart Simpson printed tees, vintage DKNY mesh tanks, and Chanel jewelry from the 1980s all in the same place. Procell (run by vintage collector Brian Procell and his wife) is a pop up store specializing in vintage duds of all styles from all eras. It’s completely normal for shoppers who came for a vintage TLC concert t-shirt to leave with a rare Ralph Lauren button-up shirt instead. Shoppers looking for a unique shopping experience will enjoy Brian’s vintage expertise and have the opportunity to learn where each one-of-a-kind piece came from. The shop is only open Friday-Sunday so make sure to snatch a vintage Louis Vuitton bucket hat before it’s gone.

 

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Some people don’t get their first taste of sneaker culture until they hit the courts when they’re older. 10 Deep Head Designer Dennis L. came to terms with his sneaker obsession while taking trips to the park with his dad at the age of five. “My father was a sneaker head when I was growing up and he had a Foot Locker connect. When the Reebok Pumps were released in 1990, he sold them at the park to his friends while I played with the other kids,” Dennis said.

Like father like son, Dennis quickly immersed himself in the sneaker game and soon developed an affinity for New Balance brand sneakers. “I got my first pair when I was in the seventh grade. They were the Navy/Orange 574 style with 3M material. A classmate accused me of wearing fake Nikes and that’s when I realized I was into something different,” Dee said.

While the sneaker game has changed in recent years, Dennis’ loyalty to New Balance and sneakers in general hasn’t faded. Dennis’ Brooklyn apartment currently houses around 100 sneakers (50 of which are New Balance brand) and he has around 150 pairs stored in his hometown in California.

“I’ve probably owned more than 1,000 sneakers in my lifetime,” Dennis stated.

 

ImageDennis shows no signs of stopping. Dennis recently helped start the online “Team NB” where New Balance enthusiasts can connect worldwide over the internet and share pictures and give release hookups while uniting over a shared admiration for New Balance sneakers. The team proves how many sneaker enthusiasts are loyal to the New Balance brand and shows that not everyone prefers Nike Jordans. “I have nothing against Nike Jordans, but I don’t have the time or energy for cheaply made shoes. They used to be made with better quality and they were cheaper and now they’re overrated. I’d rather buy a quality pair of MB’s where they use high quality suede and leather,” Dennis commented.

Once a sneaker enthusiast, always a sneaker enthusiast. “I love it, I’ve tried to quit buying and collecting sneakers but I just come back. Sneakers are definitely my drug of choice,” Dee said while checking an online sneaker forum for the latest release.

Check out the Q&A with Dennis below:

 

Chloe: Define the term “sneaker head”:

Dennis: I don’t really like the term “sneaker head because I think it’s corny. I prefer the term “sneaker enthusiast”.

 

Chloe: How do you acquire most of your sneakers?

Dennis: I buy them on websites like eBay or online sneaker forums. Friends I’ve made in the sneaker game offer me what they’re selling.

 

Chloe: Share your thoughts on acquiring sneakers in todays modern world:

Dennis: Tumblrs and blogs have made shoes harder to obtain. They sell out faster and people are forced to pay double the retail value if they purchase resale pairs.

 

Chloe: Favorite pair of sneakers that you own:

Dennis: My New Balance Kennedy’s (999 collaboration with a Boston store called Concepts). I got them for free through a trade and now they sell online for $700-$1,000!

 

Dennis’ Must Own Sneakers:

  1. New Balance 993 Kawasaki
  2. New Balance 577 Kakkerlak aka The Cockroach
  3. New Balance 850 Collaboration with Sneakerfreaker

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DKNY recently released a capsule collection of re-issued women’s and unisex styles available at the Opening Ceremony stores and website. The collection features fifteen pieces from the 1991-1994 seasons and captures the downtown essence of DKNY in the 1990s. Sport the Spring ’91 Jumpsuit and feel like you’re hanging with all the cool kids downtown during the early ‘90s.(photos courtesy of openingceremony.us/blog)

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Most people claim that they would rescue photo albums and family heirlooms if their home ever caught on fire. I might have to take several trips back and forth through the flames to rescue the vintage sportswear pieces from my closet. I’ll be the first person to admit that I’m a very materialistic person when it comes to vintage jerseys and concert tees.

I would feel naked and alone if anything ever happened to my Dennis Rodman original Champion jersey. Original Champion brand jerseys are very rare, yet I copped this steal for the low price of $25 at Buffalo Exchange! Would it be possible to turn heads without my bootylicious 2-Live Crew concert t-shirt from 1996? Probably not. I would feel empty if I couldn’t bring others happiness and nostalgia with my black Mecca boots circa 1999. 
               

Finding rare sportswear pieces brings me great joy. Why purchase a rip-off Beastie Boys t-shirt from Urban Outfitters for $60 when I have an original 1996 concert t-shirt? Hand-me-downs from parents are the best and vintage pieces can bring back memories that clothing from Forever 21 can’t. I get sentimental  every time I wear my Lil Bow Wow tank because it reminds me of my childhood when my little brother and I would play basketball pretending we were Lil Bow Wow in the movie Like Mike. I feel cozy both inside and out when I wear my Coogi sweaters because they remind me of my grandpa that used to wear them all of the time. Vintage streetwear pieces make the wearer look great on the outside while making them feel great on the inside.

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