Nob Hill has long been a destination for people on the hunt for vintage clothing. But behind every great outfit from the past is the person who found it, saw its fashion potential and put it up in a store window for you to buy. Carlos Vargas and girlfriend, Selah Ryan, got started on Avenger’s Vintage LLC after being laid off from their jobs due to the pandemic. Marquis Martinez, along with co-owner Isaiah Abeyta, of Nob Hill Vintage Boutique, recently relocated across the street from Slice Parlor in Nob Hill and will be opening soon. Four years ago they were trying to decide on lucrative ways to incentivize consumers who were looking to dress in unique ways at cheaper prices.
Vargas itemizes several focus areas when selecting items that grab his attention. Items must be authentic in terms of both style and time period, and they have to have high quality in terms of material and style. Martinez often shops with other people in mind when deciding attention grabbers. “I curate the store and find stuff I find unique, that bring back memories. And I’ve gotten a feel for my customers and what they are looking for in a piece.”
Vargas prefers to buy pieces from private sellers which he acquires by advertising through his store’s website (avengersvintage.com/). Sometimes he is also able to make connections in the shop with private sellers. Both of these ways of purchasing pieces allow for optimal curation of each piece. One of Vargas’ favorite private sellers, “Carrie Rockstar” as he refers to her, brought in a pair of 501 Levi’s Jeans with Elvis printed on them. Carrie Rockstar used to own a venue where she would house big-name bands, including the Smashing Pumpkins and the Rolling Stones. Part of the rock star vibe during that time included smoking, and some of the pieces have that authentic smokey smell that no matter how many times you wash you can not seem to get the smell of that time period off. Vargas states, “It’s super cool to bring back a little bit of that culture and have that piece of clothing carry that culture through the eras by making the piece come back to life.” Martinez similarly recalls receiving some interesting pieces through Johnny Tapia’s promoter. He was given boxing shirts and says that he instantly regretted selling those shirts, because they sold like hotcakes and he wished he’d kept some.
One of the greatest aspects of Nob Hill is its vintage clothing scene. Avid shoppers of vintage and secondhand clothing will understand and appreciate the stories behind some of the curated pieces. If you have never shopped second-hand or vintage clothing, check out any of the Nob Hill vintage stores. The Paper. wants to give a shout-out to those stores: Off Broadway Vintage Clothing and Costumes, Buffalo Exchange (who got me looking fly through undergrad), Purple Pink Rhino (who dressed me for all those late nights out partying the night away), Frock Star Vintage, Little Things Vintage Clothing, Toad Road, Cowboys & Indians Antiques (an amazing female-led staple in the Nob Hill community), Colibri Clothing Revival, A Resale Boutique, Andy & Edie and Antique Specialty Mall.