Vintage vendors bring sustainability and high-priced nostalgia to Ontario’s largest mall

“Something like that easily right now on eBay costs like $ 350,” says Clarendon Trading Co.’s Johnnel Francis as he pulls a vintage Rage Against the Machine t-shirt from a coat rack in the middle of Ontario’s largest mall.

Square One is not the place where you would expect to buy a shirt that was made 25 years ago, nor is it usually the most important thing when it comes to sustainability, but a group of vintage vendors are hoping to change that this weekend in Mississauga. .

“We have more than 17 suppliers, all small businesses here today that select the best in sustainable fashion,” says Harrison Snyder, who co-founded the vintage travel collective known as The Street Market.

Aerial view of shoppers at The Street Market inside Square One.
Shoppers at The Street Market inside Square One. Brandon Choghri / CityNews

It’s not the first time the team has brought shelves full of used clothing to the fast-fashion mecca. An earlier show at Scarborough Town Center drew huge crowds earlier this year.

On Saturday, hundreds of customers passed through the market set up in front of the Square One food court, which received thousands of dollars in transactions. Suppliers say the new love for favorite products is fueled by sustainability for many customers, but global superstars have pushed it to the limit in recent years.

“Kanye West is a huge influence on popular culture. They’ve seen him wearing classic Harley Davidson jerseys, ”says Snyder. “Travis Scott was spotted wearing a ‘mid-plaid’ Nike hoodie that recently sold online for around $ 3,000.”


Musician Travis Scott pictured in a beige Nike hoodie
Musician Travis Scott pictured in a beige Nike hoodie. Alyx Studio / Instagram

The connection between pop culture icons and fashion trends is nothing new, and the stronger the ties, the higher the price.

“A very iconic piece … actually made famous by Raekwon of the Wu-Tang Clan,” explains Bernard Manarin as he unzips a bright yellow ‘Snow Beach’ polo jacket. “Selling price for this piece, because it’s actually the rarest navy blue inner fleece … $ 5,000.”

Vintage Polo 'Snow Beach' jacket
Vintage Polo ‘Snow Beach’ jacket. Attire Co./Instagram

Seemingly insignificant details, like the color of a jacket’s lining, are important to this community of collectors. Labels, stitching, and trademark seals are crucial in pricing and authenticating these items, resulting in two shirts with identical graphics being very differently priced.

But not all vendors sell clothing for the price of a used sedan; most of them are simply looking to offer an alternative to fast-fashion staples like H&M and Zara.

“If you go to a mall retailer, you will spend roughly the same price,” says Colette Liburd while showing a black Harley Davidson t-shirt. “But with this, you are buying something that is sustainable, so you are saving it from a landfill and you are not spending an arm and a leg to get it.”

Much of The Street Market clothing was made in Canada or the United States. Some denim pieces are even adorned with binding labels.

“It’s still great quality … it was built a long time ago, so it’s built to last,” says Liburd.

However, it could still be an uphill battle for sellers participating in this weekend’s market. The pandemic has made many people more conscientious about their consumption and pushed others towards massive online retailers with low prices and instant shipping.

Still, Snyder remains bullish, backed by incredible corporate support.

“It’s really cool to see that these big corporations are now taking an interest in sustainable fashion,” he says.

“The fact that we sell used clothes, branded apparel, within a major mall competing with the same retailers … this could easily change the future and the face of retail as more people open up to buying used and sustainable products. “

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