It's almost fall, and in the fashion world that means glossy, phonebook-size magazines stocked full of ads telling us to buy, buy, buy the latest boots, coats, sweaters, earmuffs, and whatever else we need to keep ourselves stylish and toasty this coming season. While on the surface the East Bay may seem worlds away from the land of high fashion, we certainly have our own style. And this season, there will be plenty of events to demonstrate this fact.
If you live in the East Bay and you like fashion, there's a strong likelihood you're also a lover of vintage fashion. And no lover of vintage fashion should miss the twice-annual Vintage Fashion Faire (October 18-19). Organized by the same folks who bring you the monthly, monstrously sized Alameda Point Antiques Faire, the Vintage Fashion Faire started several years ago as a way for the apparel-oriented antique-fair vendors to sell some of their nicer items without having them exposed to the elements, said producer Sandra Michaan. Typically, the fashion fair has been held at the Albert H. DeWitt Officers' Club, but this edition will be held at Rock Wall Winery (2301 Monarch St., Alameda), which is housed inside an airplane hangar — a fact that Michaan said will add to the "party" atmosphere on Friday night. In addition to wines sold by the glass and bottle, the Friday-night event will also feature live music — period-appropriate, of course: The West Coast Ramblers will play hits from the Thirties and Forties.
Why is this fashion fair so great? For starters, said Michaan, it's the only one of its kind in the East Bay, and one of only two in the Bay Area. (The other, the Vintage Expo in San Francisco, will be held September 21-22.) But compared to the West Bay event, this fair is cheaper, easier to get to, and more fun, said Michaan. On that last note, each event has a theme — past ones have included "Pan Am" and "tiki" — and October's will be "vintage Halloween." Appropriately, there will be a costume contest on Friday, the winner of which will get a $100 voucher to spend at the event.
Also, vintage fashions are becoming scarcer, said Michaan. No longer can you walk into a thrift store and expect to find a dress from the Fifties. These days, shoppers — especially younger ones — have become savvier, and the popularity of TV shows like Mad Men and movies like The Great Gatsby have driven the demand for vintage fashions even higher (among women and men). Now, vintage dealers compete with shoppers at estate sales. And some vintage stores in San Francisco have been known to send employees to the fair to snatch up items by the bagful, said Michaan. In other words, here's your chance to buy vintage clothes without the middleman — and the extra mark-up.
More than fifty vendors from around the Bay Area will sell styles ranging from the Victorian era to the 1990s, and while prices vary, they start at $10. And yes, they take plastic (an ATM will also be on-site).
"It's like a wonderland of vintage," said Michaan. "If you have a hankering for it, I can't imagine anything better."
A shopping preview happens Friday, October 18 (6-9 p.m.) and Saturday, October 19. $10 admission gets you into Friday and Saturday. Saturday, October 19's event (11 a.m.-5 p.m.) costs $5. AlamedaPointAntiquesFaire.com/blog/vintage-fashion
Speaking of hard-to-find items, Mercy Vintage (4188 Piedmont Ave., Oakland) is hosting an online-only pop-up shop of items from the wardrobe of Kim Gordon. A founding member of Sonic Youth, Gordon is known for her funky, rock 'n' roll style. Expect items from her own X-Girl label, as well as from Pucci, Vivienne Westwood, Marc Jacobs, Alexander Wang, and more. Stage:Play, the Kim Gordon Collection, goes on sale Saturday, September 7 at 9 a.m. MercyVintage.com
If you're a fan of comfy, stylish T-shirts and sweatshirts and are equally at home skateboarding or hiking, check out the Blood & Bolts pop-up shop at Oak Common (3231 Grand Ave., Oakland) in September. Two Berkeley High School alumni, Ben Bloom and Geoff Mahley, started the company earlier this year. Meet them and check out their fall line (and drink free booze!) at the release party on Saturday, September 7. Noon-7 p.m., free. OakCommon.com
If you're hankering for more crafty items, head to Jack's Night Market on September 6 (the last night market of the year) at Jack London Square. Held on First Friday, the new event combines a farmers' market and shopping bazaar with entertainment. Some eight fashion-related vendors will be on hand, selling items such as Oaklandish T-shirts, handmade earrings, crocheted towels, cotton onesies, hand-painted wooden jewelry, and bottle-cap necklaces, according to Linda Meyer, marking director of Jack London Square Ventures. 6-10 p.m., free. JackLondonSquare.com
Another art bazaar and music fest worth checking out is the Art Beat Bazaar at the Starry Plough (3101 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley) on Sunday, September 8. Part of the Fifth Annual Mission Creek Oakland Festival (which, full disclosure, the Express is co-producing), the event will feature a pop-up indie craft mart in addition to live music (supplied by All My Pretty Ones, Agony Aunts, Moonshine Mabelline, Antonette Goroch) and readings (by Karen Finlay, The Bay Area Brit, and Jessi Phillips). 3-7 p.m., free. StarryPloughPub.com
Although there's no date set yet, Max Klineman of Oakland Surf Club (337 14th St., Oakland) tells us the boutique is planning a flea market at the shop sometime this fall, with vendors co-curated by label/blog/production company Wine & Bowties. Monitor OaklandSurfClub.com for details.
If you really feel like rummaging, head to Northern California's biggest rummage sale of the year on March 1-2, 2014. Housed in a massive warehouse (333 Lancaster St., Oakland) and organized by the Oakland Museum Women's Board, the 55th annual White Elephant Sale offers almost anything you could think of: books, furniture, appliances, fabric, bric-a-brac, clothing (yes, even vintage), shoes, and lots more. Get there early to avoid the crowds. Preview sale happens January 26, 2014. WhiteElephantSale.org
If you prefer your fashion hot (maybe even on fire) and one-of-a-kind, then you won't want to miss Hot Couture at The Crucible (1260 7th St., Oakland), January 10-11, 2014. Called a "dynamic fusion of fashion design and industrial art," the event promises "wearable art" complemented by "spectacular fire effects." Submissions will be accepted through September 15. For more info: TheCrucible.org