How To Wear ’90s Vintage Streetwear This Fall
We take oversized, jewel-colored pieces to Bed-Stuy for a vintage study in style.
It's now officially fall, the season where we curl up into ourselves in preparation for the cold ahead. Layering up in clothes that make you feel good enough to forget the beach is crucial, and vintage is the way to go — pieces that are proven to make it through more than one winter without falling apart. We turned to vintage collector and stylist Jordan Page, who plucked pieces from his 400-item strong collection to realize the perfect fall mood board.
"I wanted to recreate classic silhouettes within '90s street and urban-wear, but with unorthodox color palettes," Page explained over the phone later, "mixing vintage gear from preppy brands like J. Crew and Structure with those more commonly repurposed Americana brands prevalent in hip-hop at that time."
While we had him, we couldn't resist asking Page for tips on on how to fill our wardrobes with vintage finds to see us through fall.
When did your interest in vintage streetwear collecting start?
It probably started in 2010, the year I moved to New York. I had a really bad situation where I got evicted from an apartment because of an untrustworthy roommate who was pocketing my rent money for ten months. When you get evicted, everything in the apartment becomes property of the management company. So I lost a large part of my wardrobe. Because of that, I started collecting; it was also cheaper than going out and buying new clothes at retail stores. So yeah, that's kind of how it started and then it just kind of grew from there.
“Use your best judgement, go with your personal taste. There are trends in vintage. Don’t go with the hype of what everyone’s getting.”
And where did you start out thrifting?
Honestly, the Goodwills, Salvation Armys. And then within six months of becoming serious, I started getting very active on eBay. Every city I'm in, I typically try to find a vintage or a thrift store. I usually also look for old skate shops and old sneaker shops and old streetwear stores that might have deadstock items. When you go into those stores, there could be attics or basements full of items that were never sold from the ‘80s and the ‘90s or the early ‘00s. They still have tags, they're still in plastic bags, and most of these guys just want to get rid of it, so they sell it for a very reasonable price. I've even had situations where people just give me stuff because they need the space.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start collecting?
I would say use your best judgement, go with your personal taste. There are trends in vintage. Don't go with the hype of what everyone's getting. Find a place to start that's of general self-interest. Like, I like this because I like it and it's not an influence from someone or something else. And then it'll eventually grow from there. I started collecting, like I said, because I was kind of in a financial situation, but I started noticing clothes that my older brother and his friends wore that I didn't have, and so it became a personal thing for me. These were items that I didn't have as a kid or I couldn't afford and now they're available to me and I can wear them.
How many pieces do you have in your collection now?
It probably fluctuates between maybe 350-400. That's across the board. That's t-shirts, jackets, pull-overs, pants, shorts. That's everything. And honestly, I'm on the smaller scale just cause I replenish quite a lot. I give away a lot of things to friends, I end up selling things, but I'm not a salesman. But yeah, I end up replenishing my collection a lot just because if I have an item and I know someone who would love it or it would have a much better home with them, I'll give it to them.
“I wanted to recreate classic silhouettes within ’90s street and urban-wear, but with unorthodox color palettes.”
What have you focused your collection on?
I used to get any and everything that I thought was cool, but now I've kind of focused to two lanes, sportswear and preppy wear, like your vintage J. Crew and Gap. I really love the aesthetic of those clothes from the ‘90s. That preppy vibe, I don't know, it's just something that really resonated with me. So in the last year or so, I really kind of dug my heels into vintage prep wear.
What's a deal breaker for you on a piece?
It just depends. I don't know what it is, it might be a personal tic, but missing buttons really turn me off. You can get a button replaced but it's never the same button that originally was. So that's kind of like a turn-off. If the piece is more or less a grail piece — which is like a highly sought-after rare piece of vintage — then of course I'll take it because a missing button isn't too much of a compromise in that situation.
When you go to a shop you've never been to before, what do you look for first?
I would say I usually talk to the owner or whoever is in the store at the time, and just say, "Hey, what do people typically bring in?" And I rattle off some brands I'm interested in, and if they say, "Yeah, we have those brands," or "we carry them," I start looking for them. If not, I just go in and just make a beeline for some racks and color is usually what pops off to me because I'm at the point now where I can pretty much tell what era a piece of clothing is from based on the color palette of it. You can break down certain eras where certain colors were more popular. So I can just look at certain color schemes and just kinda guess, like oh, this is from the mid ‘90s or from the late ‘80s or from the early 2000s. Just because that's what was popular, and that's what all the brands did, they followed suit with like popular color schemes within the fashion world.
What's an example of a holy grail piece?
Something Snow Beach Ralph Lauren Polo or like the Cold Wave collection — these are things that are highly sought after. Everyone knows them, but not everyone has them. Other items are becoming more and more grail-ish. I would say like Nike ACG apparel is becoming more and more rare just because people are picking it up more. It was something that people really didn't pay attention to five years ago. I would say anything like Air Jordan Flight Jumpsuit, any apparel or shoes from his first five releases that are released stuff are considered grails probably.