Check out the brownstones being renovated, the sold-out live burlesque shows and the mayor working on Cadman Plaza: everything old in Brooklyn is new again, and fashion isn’t any different.
On a jam-packed subway ride or a walk down the street, it’s hard not to notice the wealth of rehashed fashion — wedge shoes and gigantic sunglasses are two of the biggest comebacks — that folks from Fort Greene to Flatbush are wearing this summer.
In the past year, Brooklyn has seen a vintage boom, with nationwide chain Buffalo Exchange opening in Williamsburg (and setting their sights on DUMBO and Red Hook) and Manhattan mainstay Housing Works setting up shop in Brooklyn Heights.
“I think the Brooklyn demographic has to do with it,” said Rachel Petersen, a manager at Buffalo Exchange. “Everybody’s trying to find her own style and to stand out in a crowd — everyone wants a unique wardrobe.”
With so many local thrift shops, and overpriced vintage boutiques opening by the dozen, GO Brooklyn sorted through the racks and came up with the borough’s best bets for secondhand shopping.
Opening in 1997 in Williamsburg, Beacon’s Closet has become one of the neighborhood’s premier shopping destinations. The warehouse is chock full of men’s and women’s gear ranging from Halloween costume ridiculous to red carpet glamorous. The store was so successful that in 2002 a satellite location opened in Park Slope.
“We do a lot of funky, trendy stuff, but we don’t do anything too formal,” said manager Tiffany Collings. Beacon’s keeps their prices down by buying directly from the public, so you’re able to score most items in the store for under $50 — even designer outfits and footwear.
Items like tights, sunglasses and jewelry are all sold new, so you can pick up an entire outfit on one trip — part of the store’s appeal, said Collings. “It’s a real cross-section,” she said, “we see locals and tourists from all over the world.”
Sprouting out of Tuscan, Arizona in 1974 and reproducing itself into 30-plus branches countrywide, Buffalo Exchange keeps its tidy racks stocked with modern and vintage finds. “Employees are trained on quality and desirability, so they know the trends,” said Petersen — which means you can score current designer favorites at about a third of the retail price.
In addition to selling clothes, Buffalo Exchange will buy your old ones. Locals line up with bags full of gently worn gems and samples from fashion houses, and the store will pay in either cash or store credit, making it easy to load up on another armful of clothing.
Vintage shopping in Brooklyn Heights can be like hitting yard sales in Beverly Hills — you’re getting high quality castoffs. That makes stopping into Housing Works an easy way to find cheap, chic outfits. “There is bound to be something vintage to suit everyone’s style,” said manager Rick Smith, citing pieces from Marc Jacobs and Chanel that cost less than dinner at Henry’s End.
Housing Works can also give your apartment a splash of vintage class. Couches, coffee tables and armoirs are abundant and tend to be more Eames than “Ewww.” Our tip: Scope the sidewalk after closing. It’s not unusual to find leftover treasures like velvet loveseats tossed to the curb for garbage pick up.
Former model Alison Houtte, who has graced the pages of Vogue and GO Brooklyn, doesn’t think of her goods as old-fashioned because they never went out of style. Stocking alligator purses, fur cuffs and classic dresses in her Prospect Heights boutique, Houtte enthusiastically helps visitors pick outfits for parties, events or everyday glamour.
Until August 19, Houtte is holding a summer sale, where men’s and women’s garments are going for between $10 and $50, and costume jewelry is prices as low as $5.Green Village Used Furniture & Clothing
If you’re in the mood for a traditional secondhand shop with endless racks of discount merchandise and that unmistakable thrift store smell, Green Village is the place for you.
What separates this thift shop from the mothballed pack, however, is a pay-by-the-pound system. For $2, you can take home a five-pound mixed bag of the clothing — including plenty of current fashion favorites like high-waisted jeans, fitted vests and the ever-popular ironic T-shirt
Books, accessories and furniture, all available at deep discounts, are worth browsing, but don’t expect the curated feel of other shops while you search for a diamond in the rough.
Beacon’s Closet (88 N. 11th St., at Wythe Avenue in Williamsburg and 220 Fifth Ave., between Union and President streets in Park Slope) is open Monday through Friday from noon–9 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 11 am–8 pm. For information, call (718) 486-0816 or (718) 230-1630, or visit www.beaconscloset.com.
Buffalo Exchange (504 Driggs Ave., at North Ninth Street in Williamsburg) is open Monday through Saturday from 11 am–8 pm and Sunday from noon–7 pm. For information, call (718) 384-6901 or visit www.buffaloexchange.com.
Housing Works Thrift Shop (122 Montague St., at Henry Street in Brooklyn Heights) is open Monday through Saturday 11 am–7 pm and Sunday from noon–5 pm. For information, call (718) 237-0521 or visit www.housingworksauctions.com.
Hooti Couture (321 Flatbush Ave., between Park and Prospect places in Prospect Heights) is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 am–8 pm. For information, call (718) 857-1977 or visit www.hooticouture.com.
Green Village Used Furniture & Clothing (276 Starr St., at Nicholas Avenue in East Williamsburg) is open Monday through Thursday 9:30 am–6 pm and Friday 9:30 am–2 pm; Sun: 10 am–6 pm. For information, call (718) 456-8844 or visit www.gogreenvillage.com.