Vintage shops and local designers breathe new life into old clothes

Vintage shops and local designers breathe new life into old clothes

Vintage shops and local designers breathe new life into old clothes


From the colorful storefronts of Haight-Ashbury to the sunny streets of Mission, San Francisco is full of thrift stores selling second-hand clothes and vintage jewelry.

While the City by the Bay is one of the most expensive cities for second-hand shopping, San Francisco is home to a wide array of used, consignment, and vintage brick-and-mortar items where locals and foreigners can find everything mid-century. mod to Y2K modes exposing the midriff.

Among the city’s array of thrift shops are a handful of small businesses and ateliers that build on the tradition of thrift shopping by refreshing vintage looks with bespoke embellishments and durability at the core. ‘spirit.

As the city celebrates National Thrift Store Day, we take a look at some merchants and designers who specialize in fixing rips, re-sizing, and refurbishing the old.

The future past

12 Clement Street, San Francisco

Lindsey Hansen was fed up with turnover and waste in the fashion industry – unworn clothes lying dormant in warehouses, synthetic dyes polluting the Earth and a general disconnect between fashion buyers, manufacturers and consumers in the global supply chain.

Lindsey Hansen describes her work and process of altering vintage clothing at The Future Past studio in the Richmond district of San Francisco, Calif. on Thursday, August 12, 2022. | Camille Cohen/The Norm

“I think throughout my career I’ve had this guilt about how much trash I was contributing,” said Hansen, who worked in the fashion industry in Los Angeles for years and sometimes created 90 models of jackets in a single month.

The Napa native finally decided to leave the grind behind, moving to San Francisco about 10 years ago. She opened her resurrected vintage clothing boutique and atelier, The Future Past, on Clement Street in November 2019, just before the pandemic hit. At one point, the Otis College of Art and Design graduate primarily made masks, but her neighbors eventually stumbled upon the boutique, which specializes in customizing, making and repairing vintage fashion pieces, especially the denim, and the sale of clothing made from natural fabrics. or tinted with natural dyes.

Details of Lindsey Hansen’s work at The Future Past studio. | Camille Cohen/The Norm

Because everyone was buying hyper locally,” Hansen said, “it really helped me put down roots here and focus on people coming in.

Now, when a customer walks into the store, they can browse upcycled clothing from local designers or The Future Past’s collection of revamped vintage pieces, ranging from jeans with sashiko stitching (a Japanese mending technique with white geometric threads on indigo background) to flour sacks. turned into shirts. Customers can choose a piece from the rack to customize or bring in a heritage piece that they would like to have repaired, modified or reworked for a more modern fit or style. Custom jobs can range from $5-$10 to fix a button up to $300 to rework an entire pair of jeans.

Lindsey Hansen poses for a portrait at The Future Past studio in the Richmond district. | Camille Cohen/The Norm

The seamstress, designer and owner hopes to one day lead sewing classes at the store. But until then, she wants her customers to feel comfortable in the store and in their wardrobe.

“I want people to feel like they can be themselves,” Hansen said. “That’s exactly the kind of experience I’m trying to really hone and nurture.”


3608 19th Street, San Francisco
(415) 865-0969

Likewise, sustainability has been the mission of Marie Biscarra and Ivy Chan’s boutique, Isso, for 15 years.

ISSO Creative Director Marie Biscarra (right) and ISSO Chief Designer Ivy Chan (left) pose for a portrait at their Mission District clothing store in San Francisco, Calif., Monday, Aug. 15, 2022 .| Camille Cohen/The Norm

The funky and colorful boutique on the corner of Guerrero and 19th Street not only sells “made, found or designed in the Bay Area” items, but has made its mark on the hyperlocal fashion scene with its upcycling vendor most popular over the past two years—a high-low two-piece set of oversized men’s polo shirts cut in half. Biscarra took inspiration from halter tops and two-piece outfits from Frankie Avalon’s 1960s “beach party movies” to transform polo shirts into cropped tops and sporty skirts.

“It just became a hot thing, and so we never quit,” Biscarra said. (Biscarra handles designs and merchandising, while Chan focuses on tailoring.)

Sophie Faustinelli, Camilla Faustinelli and Maria Garcia admire the outdoor racks of the ISSO clothing store on Monday August 15, 2022. | Camille Cohen/The Norm

Other items with a tailored twist in the store include vintage jackets with San Francisco-themed patches made by a local artist and ruffled popcorn blouses cut into cropped or bandeau tops. (If the popcorn tops don’t sell, Biscarra doesn’t mind cutting them into little scarves or scrunchies so the material isn’t wasted.)

“Our planet needs us to be more aware of what we are doing. So it’s just one thing we try to do ourselves to try to help“, said Biscarre.

Ultimately, Biscarra hopes Isso can inspire shoppers to not be “intimidated” by vintage fashion or second-hand clothing and to be inspired by it. “I like to think of what we wear in our shop as classics with a twist,” Biscarra said. “So all of these vintage pieces are timeless because they’ve already traveled back in time and they’re still here. Now the twist comes because each of us is going to wear this item in a different way, and we’re there to help you imagine it.

Interiors of the ISSO clothing store in the Mission district. | Camille Cohen/The Norm


Comfort and durability are also at the heart of WRN FRSH, the brainchild of Gene Duven and Michael Falsetto-Mapp. From their Castro apartment, the married couple produce lines or “lots” of unisex jackets, sweatshirts, pants and dresses sewn from “deconstructed vintage clothing” and sell their upcycled clothes in pop-ups, online or local stores, such as The Futur Passé. Falsetto-Mapp finds and collects vintage clothes and fabrics (sometimes the couple receives donations), washes them, sorts them by type of fabric, and then the “deconstruction” process begins.

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The couple cut the garments into panels, which Duven then sorts, sews and assembles into WRN FRSH garments. The end products are unique quilts with subtle variations in panel size and hue that are intentionally non-binary and bespoke in their own way.

“The panels are always different,” says Falseto-Mapp. It’s basically one-on-one even though it’s part of a collection.

“They get some… individuality, but they also get something that they understand,” added Duven, who feels free to “manipulate the sizes” and “gender-blind” in her work and to be able to share this comfort with others. .

Models wear WRN FRSH’s first “batch” of unisex styles in San Francisco’s Sunset District. | Michael Lyon/Courtesy of WRN FRSH

“It’s not binary, it’s really at the heart of our cut,” added Falseto-Mapp. We do not have a men’s and women’s section. We have never. It was always intentional as a physical way to gain control and regain power.”

Duven will personalize the piece even more if, for example, the client does not want the material to be worn, have holes or be more monochromatic.

“There is a bit of flexibility,” Falseto-Mapp explained. “Because it’s just the two of us, and Gene does it by hand, we can make those adjustments.

Ultimately, the couple hope their “wire-to-table” work, as Falsetto-Mapp describes it, is an antidote to the heavy environmental impact of fast fashion.

“The way we do it is for most people a bit crazy because it takes a long time. We call it slow fashion,” Falsetto-Mapp said. “It’s very meticulous and requires a lot of determination.


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