This coming Sunday, July 21, the city of Tacoma will play host to Northwest Thrift-Con, a vintage and streetwear clothing expo in the downtown’s historic Court House Square. Sporting over 40 vendors and featuring designers, educators, food, cocktails and DJ’s, Northwest Thrift-Con is part of a wider moment for vintage fashion happening right now around the world.

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In advance of the event, The Stranger is profiling pickers and vintage dealers who make the Pacific Northwest’s vintage scene special, both online and IRL. Last week we featured some of Tacoma’s best year-round vintage vendors, many of whom will be exhibiting at the show. To follow that up, we’re exploring the world of online vintage sellers set to pop-up at Thrift-Con.

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The internet, we all can agree, is awful right now, a statement to which there are very few exceptions. One happens to be the pursuit of vintage clothing and collectibles online. It’s a pastime experiencing its Golden Era here at the end of the Twenty-Teens, serviced by a zeal of digital marketplaces like Etsy, DePop, Poshmark, Instagram and Ebay, each offering a direct-sale platform impossible to imagine even 20 years ago. Whatever it is you’re looking for—almost without limit—you can find it online, and indeed, connect with a seller who is passionate not just about taking your money, but about the piece itself.

The sellers I spoke with for this piece have a love-hate relationship with vintage shopping on today’s internet. On one hand, it allows global discovery and fosters an international marketplace, allowing lifelong vintage sellers like John Schmidt (of Jolly Chimp Collectibles, profiled below) to connect with Made In The USA obsessed clothing shoppers in Thailand and Taiwan. The internet is also how a seller like Leta Troka (of Deja Vintage, also profiled below) can get connected with a dream material source—in her case, a retired San Francisco vintage vendor from the heydey of boutique bohemia, sitting on a clutch of deadstock hippy ware.

And yet for both these sellers, the opportunity to exhibit in-person at events like NW Thrift-Con remains enormously important. For Troka’s Deja Vintage, pop-up festivals offer a chance to play with her collection’s identity, expanding Deja Vintage’s 20th-century femme aesthetic with pieces of select menswear and even sports apparel. For Schmidt, who grew up steeped in the vintage boom of the 1990s (and now sells primarily to buyers born in that decade), fairs offer a more visceral, immediate connection to online sales. “I love the face-to-face feeling at these shows,” says Schmidt. “It reminds me of the flea markets, where this culture really started.”

From athleisure to workwear to band tees, pop ephemera, and vintage couture, these are five of the online vendors we’re most excited to check out at this weekend’s NW Thrift-Con.

SEA STREET FASHION
@seastreetfashion


A Snohomish, Washington-based account offering a tidy snapshot of today’s moment in hypebeast brand streetwear. Here you can find a generous assortment of back season clothes from brands like A Bathing Ape, the epochal Harajuku based streetwear brand (often stylized BAPE) founded in 1993 by mononymous Japanese designer Nigo, as well as other leading labels like Billionaire Boys Club and Supreme. Brand obsessives hunt and quest over these collections, and Sea Street’s Instagram is a catalogue of the weirdest and rarest shit alongside everyday apparel, from Supreme gardening gloves and Zippo lighters to BAPE’s infamous Rolex knock-off watch.

DEJA VINTAGE
@dejavintage


Based in Edmonds, Leta Troka’s Deja Vintage walks a fine line, sourcing deeply collectible mid-century clothing that also happens to be utterly wearable alongside more contemporary pieces. It’s not an easy balance—this is not costume garb—and the pursuit forms an ethos and you can see it in her collection (sold on both Instagram and Etsy). Online her pieces lean vintage femme, from 1980s Victor Costa dresses (above) to '70s wide leg nylon jumpsuits to 1940s taffeta boleros. “I’m trying to translate current trends with vintage in a sustainable, wearable wear,” she tells me.

Watch at NW Thrift-Con for Deja Vintage’s deeply rare collection of early 1970s tag-on deadstock counterculture garments, sourced from a collector who once owned a hippy shop in San Francisco. Far out!

SECOND HAND SEATTLE
@second_hand_seattle


Managed by founder Charlie Cahill, this account sources wearable 20th-century vintage pieces with a focus on sports and athleisure brands. Think '90s North Face shells, Ralph Lauren bear wear, a deep bench of vintage Nike jackets (including pieces from the sought after “gray tag” era and before) and '90s UW Huskies merch. Cahill’s style expands to also include a bit of '90s pop fashion, from Microsoft corporate-wave hats to highly sought after Simpsons shirts from the show’s early '90s licensing boom.

MAJOR LEAGUE 360
@majorleague360


Today’s modern vintage and hip hop cultures have long since fused; indeed, the relationship may be more symbiotic than anything, an ongoing narrative of inspiration and innovation stretching back to the roots of late 20th-century American sound and fashion. This is the playground for Major League 360, “a curated collection of hip-hop, jazz and R&B inspired clothing” drawing on reference points from hip hop, modern R&B, '80s and '90s digital soul, New Jack Swing, rock, grunge, and much much more.

Here you can find not just an authentic Janet Jackson “Rhythm Nation” tour shirt, but also the damned hat she’s wearing on the cover, plus a cassette copy of Janet’s 1989 masterpiece (produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, both original members of The Time). The collection leans hard into music history and encompasses a broad range of styles, with flawless authentic tour shirts ranging from Kriss Kross to Alicia Keys to System of a Down and Weezer (above).

For band shirts and wearable pop merch, the condition is often a major issue—few could have predicted, for example, that “Get Rich Or Die Trying” promotional clothing would be hotly sought after some 20 years later, but here we are. And so it’s worth mentioning that every piece in the Major League shop is, as they say, kitchen clean; just look at these stunning “Space Jam” basketball jerseys if you don’t believe.

JOLLY CHIMP COLLECTIBLES
@jollychimpcollectibles

I’m perhaps most excited to check out the festival exhibition from John Schmidt, whose Jolly Chimp Collectibles out of San Jose will be exhibiting in the Pacific Northwest for the very first time at Thrift-Con. “I love the 60s through the 90s, that’s my passion,” Schmidt tells me, and the overall effect of Schmidt’s Instagram is like a digital yard sale or flea market.

Jolly Chimp’s Instagram presence runs an impressive gamut of styles and modes, with clothes appearing alongside collectibles, comics, vinyl, toys, non-reproduction authentically retro band pins (look at this incredible Prince collection), and more. That wolf-print 1993 Northern Exposure promotional t-shirt? Yeah, he’s bringing it to Tacoma. You may have to fight me for it. But you can have the Freddy Krueger toy doll. That shit’s creepy!

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Schmidt’s collection is informed by a life spent thrifting and picking, stretching back to the pre-internet days and informed by a genuine love for pop culture, something Schmidt fell in love with as a Bay Area punk rock kid in the 1990s. “Back then it was a treasure hunt for us—you couldn’t buy anything online.”

“Of course, I wasn’t wearing anything from the '90s actually in '90s," Schmidt says laughing. “I was way more into the '70s stuff then.” And so it goes.

Northwest Thrift-Con happens this Sunday, July 21.