SANTA MONICA—What is old is new again, but hard to find and increasingly expensive. This is the case with most vintage clothing on the market. But there will be something for everyone, and at affordable prices, at the Santa Monica Vintage Fashion Expo from February 4-5.
Men and women flock to the expo to find pieces by designers who are getting the most buzz. They feel more confident wearing these styles created by up-and-coming names or past designers hoping to make comebacks. Or they just have an interest in older fashions, which three partners capitalized on in January 1988 by hosting the first expo in Oakland, CA.
Potential shoppers can also browse through $1 jewelry, shoes, hats, handbags, belts, sunglasses, lingerie, swimsuits, costume jewelry and an endless list of variable items. One booth is filled with never-worn vintage eyeglass frames.
The expo will feature 85 friendly and knowledgeable dealers from across the country at visually stunning booths. Not only do they know what they are talking about, but they also have their own interesting stories about how they got started that they can share with their customers.
Lisa Normoyle, who is one of the owners of the expo and a dealer, said she made a career out of vintage because old clothing and antiques she had collected since she was a teenager one day grew large enough for her to participate in a show, so she jumped right in.
“I think I was interested in vintage items because my family left all our heirlooms behind in Ireland. I was always attracted to anything old and beautiful and would bring it home,” Normoyle said. “When I got my first place, I filled it with Victorian and ’20s furniture, which was amazingly inexpensive at the time.”
Normoyle recommends that potential shoppers wear something comfortable to make it easy to try on clothes and comfortable shoes because it is a big show.
While they peruse the abundance of merchandise, they might bump into celebrities who have attended the expo in the past such as Barbra Streisand, Rachel Zoe of Bravo’s “Rachel Zoe Project,” Diane Keaton and Marisa Tomei.
Top names in the American fashion scene also show up to buy vintage clothes that they use as inspirations in creating completely different looks or exact copies. In other words, this is one of the few places where the word “vintage” is not just another random word sown onto a tag. And vintage versions of what is worn on designer runways and in fashion magazines in turn tend to be the best expo sellers.
Film industry professionals attend the event to look for authentic clothes to use in period movies. They can find pieces from the Victoria Era, 1970s platform shoes and bell bottom jeans, as well as more recent retro styles for fashion-conscious teens and 20-year-olds. A 1920s Chanel beaded flapper dress once sold at the expo for $26,000. Where else could they have found the 1920s clothes that Angelina Jolie wore in 2008’s “Changeling”?
The Vintage Fashion Expo will take place at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. Shopping hours are from 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday, February 4 and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, February 5. Admission is $10. For more information, visit vintageexpo.com.