Beth Hughes, Chronicle Staff Writer
Sunday, March 15, 2009
On upper Haight Street, head shops edge up against punk emporiums and hipster stores. Added to the mix are the vintage fashion shops clustered between Ashbury and Shrader streets, a concentration that draws tourists, style-savvy yet frugal fashionistas, stylists, textile collectors, fashion-industry pickers seeking inspiration for designers, and the occasional celebrity.
"I go every couple of weeks," says Manifa Minas, 26, who works at the Postal Chase on Cole Street. "You can find unique pieces there that you can put together with what you have to make something even more unique."
That's the appeal of vintage fashion, creating a highly individual style. "Regular clothes are boring. Either everyone has them or they don't fit," says Althea James, 15, an Urban School student who frequents the vintage shops alone and with friends. Last year, she budgeted $50 for a prom dress, and bought two possibilities, $10 and $20. She wore the more expensive dress, a froth of tiny pink pleats.
Phoebe Hasley, the assistant manager at La Rosa, recalls a short, slim tourist visiting San Francisco for a week with his girlfriend. For fun, he tried on some '50s menswear. " 'I'm a '50s shape,' he said as he came out of the dressing room," she says. "He saw the light. He was thrilled." He came back several times and overhauled his wardrobe.
We've asked the owners and managers for their takes on their stores, and picks for this transitional season, as well as the best way to buy vintage clothes. The consensus: Shop during the week, early in the day, focus on fit rather than labeled size, be adventurous and don't give up. It's hit or miss, but you'll find something.
Read more - Where Style + Street Meet: Haight Street
Includes profiles and photos of vintage shops - Neda's, Decades of Fashion, Wasteland, Dollhouse Bettie, La Rosa, Held Over and Buffalo Exchange