I got here by the work actually. Seeking paper-thin ringer tees and flannel shirts, disco-era fur-lined suede jackets, 80s puffers, and worn-in denim that my older sister and I’d slit down the edges to make into flares with colourful cloth inserts, I spent a lot of my Philadelphia childhood frequenting the town’s huge community of Village Thrift shops. I used to be attracted each to the accessible costs—$5 objects marked ½ off relying on the colour of the paper tags (simply switched earlier than testing)—and the joys of the hunt for garments that have been thirty, and typically forty years handed their manufacturing date, with many years of historical past sewn into each sew. Even at 13, I discovered consolation within the camaraderie between different pickers roaming the aisles, the comfortable rock hits that cackle via outdated audio system, whether or not you’re at a Salvation Military in Whitefish, Montana or a Savers in Windfall, Rhode Island; the satisfaction of sorting via your haul once you get house, exhausted by the hassle and possibly just a little congested from the musty vapors of the previous.
I first arrived at Rag-O-Rama as a buyer after a rocky transition from the East Coast to the Midwest. Earlier than packing up a U-Haul and driving 15 hours with my father to my freshman orientation, I couldn’t even establish St. Louis on a map. Once I arrived, I used to be instantly homesick, not only for mates, household, and my boyfriend— who matriculated at Brown with the convenience of a liberal elite settling into an elite liberal establishment—however for the varied metropolis I grew up in, which I couldn’t discover within the manicured monoculture of freshman dormitories and fraternity events. When a number of makes an attempt to switch to an East Coast faculty proved unsuccessful, I spent my weekends driving up and down freeway 64/40 and Interstate 44, discovering solace in a well-researched route of St. Vincent De Pauls, Goodwills, and Worth Villages. I shopped for myself and to promote for a revenue, a small facet hustle that helped fill my days and my pockets. My roommate introduced her grandmother’s Singer stitching machine up from Springfield, Missouri and we minimize and re-fabricated outdated clothes into new ones, sipping beers beneath the fluorescent lights of our triple capability dorm room whereas our third roommate pledged a sorority. A few of these failed experiments discovered their technique to Rag-O-Rama, too.
These items weren’t significantly spectacular—a simple “cross,” if I’m being sincere—however there was one thing to the train of deconstruction and reconstruction, in taking one thing because it was, and respiration new life into it with out blotting out the place it got here from. I can’t let you know the identify of a single one in every of my professors from the 4 years I spent at Wash U, or reference the required studying lists from the lessons I took to earn my undergraduate diploma. However I can simply rattle off a few of my finest finds from my time at Rag-O-Rama: an impossibly comfortable, unique Peaches Information emblem child tee that I stupidly bought years later; a pair of high-waisted black, boot-cut Brittania denims that I nursed via a number of rips and patches; uncommon, unique Air Drive 1s that I nonetheless have (and put on!); and the Wrangler jacket, which outlasted my boyfriend from Brown, who memorably advised me that pursuing a profession in trend was a “waste of time.” That jacket has stored me heat and guarded—like a chunk of medium-blue denim armor—from St. Louis to New York, and finally London, Milan, and Paris. A small tear on the left elbow lately grew to become a a lot larger one, and I thought of making a restore earlier than pondering higher of it.