The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

‘Vintage House Chicago’: Empowering vintage collectors through community

Quentin Blais
Customers browse through various vintage selections at the Vintage House pop-up in Wicker Park on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024. The pop-up hosted multiple vendors who all carried a variety of clothing and accessories.

Visitors were greeted with indie pop blaring on the speakers and flowing conversation as they entered Vintage House’s latest market at 1525 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. Patrons and sellers alike found themselves sifting through brightly colored clothing racks and antique glassware at Vintage House’s most recent event Feb. 24-25.  

Among the crowd, Vintage House founder Maddie Rogers paced around the market, reuniting with her vintage-selling collaborators.

Rogers serves as the founder of Vintage House and Primaries Vintage, a small vintage clothing store located in Chicago’s Salt Shed concert venue. Primaries Vintage started during the pandemic as a way for Rogers to minimize her expansive vintage collection.

“I started Vintage House because I wanted more opportunities to sell,” Rogers said. “A lot of the markets are inaccessible to beginners, so I started organizing my own.”

Rogers invited other sellers within the vintage community to the event, including Cat Hunter and Tim Sickles of Cats Eye Vintage, a vintage clothing store located at 1 E. Dunes Hwy in Beverly Shores, Indiana. Like Rogers, Hunter and Sickles also began their store to cut down their personal vintage collection.

“We’re definitely seeing vintage goods as a trend,” Hunter said. “Vintage clothing sets you apart from everybody else. It has a unique style and good quality. You don’t have to always have the same aesthetic. That’s what makes it fun.”

Several vendors said they recognized the recent resurgence in popularity of vintage and secondhand goods. 

“It’s always been around,” said Emilia Klivickis, owner of Aged Pages Vintage. “There’s been a resurgence in the past ten years, but I saw it as far back as my early teens with ‘90s clothing. I feel like the aesthetics have gotten older though.” 

Henna McCoy looks through the selection on the second day of the Vintage House’s pop-up market in Wicker Park on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024. The pop-up was open for business through the weekend. (Quentin Blais)

Aged Pages Vintage does not have a physical store, although Klivickis frequently attends vintage markets in Chicago. Klivickis’ store primarily focuses on clothing from the 1960s and 70s, although she noted Y2K as a broader aesthetic trend within the vintage community.

However, Klivickis fears vintage goods may not always be trending.

“If newer fast fashion brands aren’t making pieces at high value, then we may not have good quality vintage available in 50 years,” Klivickis said. “There are brands making pieces handmade in the U.S. like Big Bud Press that are good quality. I don’t buy a lot of new clothing, but I do buy from them, and I think about having those pieces in 50 years.”

The vintage sellers in attendance source their items from wholesale suppliers, thrift stores, and calls to people’s homes.

“I think it’s fantastic to resell,” Hunter said when asked about the impact of reselling clothes from thrift stores. “We’re bringing something that’s curated to the eye of someone else who may not have the time to thrift.”

“We have more than enough clothing in the world to clothe everybody,” Klivickis said. “Prices have jumped up, but everything is more expensive now. It’s becoming a little less accessible, but I don’t think that’s a byproduct of vintage sellers. It’s a byproduct of thrifting becoming more popular.”

Not all vintage sellers, however, have a completely positive opinion regarding reselling clothes purchased from thrift stores.

“I do think that resellers have a bad effect on people who rely on thrift stores, but what people want changes so much from person to person,” Rogers said. “People buying out of necessity are looking for different items on a more practical level.”

Rogers also recognized overconsumption as an issue in the vintage community. 

“People think that buying secondhand is a solution to every problem, but you can still overbuy and overspend,” Rogers said. “You can intentionally buy new items, and the longer I’ve been selling, the more intentional I’ve become with what I buy.”

Rogers said that house calls are a preferred method of obtaining Primaries Vintage’s inventory. These calls involve vintage sellers purchasing objects directly from people’s houses.

“It may be a hoarding situation, or they may be parting with a lot of stuff,” Rogers said. “Someone has had a life with a garment, and then you get to give it a second life. It’s a very exciting thing for me.”

Despite issues such as increasing prices and overconsumption within the community, Rogers said other vintage resellers have found themselves empowered by their businesses.

“I like being able to see people become their own boss,” she said. “It empowers a lot of people who wouldn’t let themselves experience that otherwise. I’ve found a lot of kindred spirits that way.”

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