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Performer Mayyadda singing at the University of Minnesota Juneteenth Celebration “We Are The Noise: The Echoes of Our Ancestors” captured on Saturday, June 15.
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Published June 23, 2024

Episode 129: From sustainable style to community connection

The Minneapolis Vintage Market sets out to preserve history and personal expression through sustainable fashion.

RACHEL HOPPE: Hi, I’m Rachel Hoppe and you’re listening to In The Know, a podcast dedicated to the University of Minnesota. In this episode, I explored the Minneapolis Vintage Market and its greater impact on the Twin Cities community. 

The Minneapolis Vintage Market is a monthly market hosted by various venues throughout the city with pop-up shops that sell vintage, second-hand clothing, home decor and household items. These pop-up shops are curated by local vintage retailers. Molli Slade, owner of the vintage shop Glam Diggers Vintage, discusses her experience selling at the market. 

MOLLI SLADE: I really, I enjoy it. We travel around to different locations. The vendors have changed a lot from 2018 to now. Cause a lot of times people will kind of graduate from the market. They’ve opened their own brick and mortar stores. You know, there’s five or six, seven, maybe even eight people I can think of that were vendors who now have brick and mortar, which is great. You know, that they’re being able to create another business model. So there’s a small business from using things that are already produced, you know, in the green way of thinking, that’s great.

HOPPE: Slade, who is a social worker by trade, started buying vintage back in the 70s. She enjoyed the punk rock community that shopped vintage. Kathryn Reiley, an adjunct professor of apparel design and retail merchandising at the U’s College of Design, started shopping for vintage clothing for similar reasons. 

KATHRYN REILEY: Well, in the 90s I was listening to like alternative and grunge music, and so a lot of those music groups, the musicians and the band members wore vintage clothing, and so that’s kind of how my friends and I got interested in it. You know groups like the B52s and REM and Delight, they were all wearing vintage clothing. Courtney Love of Hole, you know, was wearing lots of 1960s baby doll dresses, and so we all started shopping at like Ragstock and some of the vintage stores in St. Paul and Minneapolis and started getting into vintage clothing.

HOPPE: Vintage fashion offers a unique opportunity for young shoppers to find their desired aesthetic today. The Minneapolis Vintage Market hosts retailers that sell a myriad of styles from various decades. 

SLADE: I appreciate the wide range of styles because you walk through the market and there’s everything from you know, the Y2K like crop top and, you know, low rise jeans and there’s an audience for that to designer high end vintage pieces. And, you know, it might be everything from a 5 or 10 shirt to a 400 jacket. 

And each one has its crowd of people, or has its  customers, which is nice. We’ve got enough people who have a little bit of money for that kind of thing that they can support. Not like New York prices, but there is definitely an audience for the whole range, which is great. I kind of think of some of the vintage as like, it’s the gateway drug. Like, try out this, try out this vintage sweater and you’ll be back to try a vintage coat. 

HOPPE: While shopping vintage is a great way to find an individual style, it has the potential to get expensive. Depending on the era an item comes from, or other elements such as the kind of fabric of a garment, the price can become much more expensive than a piece from a more mainstream brand. That said, vintage pieces tend to be much better quality than clothing from brands considered to be fast fashion. So, while at face value buying new clothes is generally cheaper, the vintage clothing tends to last much longer. 

SLADE: I am glad to see things, that people are appreciating the, not the single, like appreciating reusing, you know, reduce, reuse, recycle, and that part is really cool that I think the younger generation coming up really gets that part and gets the impact on the planet and all the like fast fashions, you know. Not to, you know, all those brands we all know, that after three uses it’s shredding and it’s worthless and it’s poor construction, and then you have a, a jacket from the 1930s that’s almost 100 years old, is still solid and relevant, like you don’t look like you’re wearing a costume, which is awesome, and that’s good design. I feel like it’s important for me to share the history and why this is still relevant, you know and I, the provenance and the sort of, you know, why is this good design, or you what makes this a cool piece is super important to me.

HOPPE: As Slade said, buying vintage clothing doesn’t just help your wallet in the long run, but also the planet. Buying secondhand clothing positively impacts the environment as it keeps clothing from ending up in landfills and from being otherwise unused. Missy Bye, an apparel design professor also at the U’s College of Design, discusses the numerous benefits of shopping secondhand.

MISSY BYE: You’re saving production of the fiber, dyeing. Take a pair of jeans, hugely water intensive dying processes that pollute waters. The processing of cotton is hugely water intensive. It just goes on and on, and so if I don’t have to produce the garment again, I’m saving a huge chunk of impact on the environment.

HOPPE: Depending on the decade the clothing you’re buying is from, the materials could also potentially be more environmentally friendly. Some fabrics popular in today’s clothing create the risk of microfibers being put into the environment.

BYE: I think that people are aware of microfibers that’s been in the news. It’s invaded our waterways. It’s invaded animals, it’s in our own bodies, and we really don’t know the impact of microfibers, but it’s probably not good. So, I guess another thing with vintage clothes is if you’re buying pre 1970 you’re probably getting something that is natural fibers. You may get some rayon in there, but  you’re probably not getting too much polyester or other newer synthetics.

REILEY:  If you’re buying new pieces, look for things that have been made by hand or things that are made out of natural fibers, like organic cotton. Also things that have been naturally dyed if possible because a lot of mass production dying is bad for the environment, so things that have been naturally dyed are better, but sometimes those options can be hard to find. 

SLADE: I’m going in because I have a passion for this, and I want to share it with the other person. I want them to catch a little bit of that fire. And when I see people, when I’m able to pull something out that looks fabulous on them, that they’re like, ‘I never would have picked that out.’ Mission accomplished. Or I see something in another booth. 

We can, we all get to win in this and it doesn’t feel super competitive or icky. You know, like there’s, there’s enough to go around. I’m grateful that I do as well as I do and I work hard at it. I think about who the customer is going to be and I try to tailor what I’m bringing for that. And it’s fun. It’s fun to see people expressing themselves, being with their friends.

HOPPE: I feel like there’s been a lot of discussion about overconsumption in fashion. What are kind of ways to mitigate that? 

BYE: Stop buying so much. Overconsumption is a problem for the majority of the population. There’s some people that have a really good handle on that. But you don’t have to have a new outfit every day. You don’t have to look different every day. You don’t need a new wardrobe every season. The longer you can keep something in your wardrobe and wear it, the better. 

And I think that’s a little bit easier as you get a little bit older. Younger people are trying to find their identity and try to figure out what their clothing says about them and what kind of image they want to project. So I understand, you know, some turnover there and probably going second hand is a really good thing in that case, but if all of a sudden you think you’re into boho, you know, it doesn’t mean you have to replace your whole wardrobe. You know, do it a little bit at a time. Is it a good fit? If it’s not a good fit you haven’t, you know, changed your whole wardrobe over and you still have kind of a foundation.

HOPPE:  If you’re interested in attending the next Minneapolis Vintage Market, you can stop by the Machine Shop between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. on November 12!

This episode was written by Rachel Hoppe and produced by Kaylie Sirovy. As always, we appreciate you listening in and feel free to leave us an email at [email protected] with comments or questions. I’m Rachel, and this is In the Know.

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