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DESIGN : Dig the Far-Out Threads : The grunge and '60s styles are back. Vintage stores can make sure you're in step with the old.

April 02, 1993|JULIE RUBIN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

One looks like fashion from Woodstock, the other like fashion from hell.

But both the 1960s-inspired retro-hippie look and the anti-sartorial grunge style have spread faster than burning incense, and even main stream retailers have started peddling them. But for some die-hard hippie fans and gurus of grunge there's only one way to go: vintage.

"This is where it's at," said Jennifer Issa, 20, of Granada Hills, a frequent shopper at vintage stores. For Issa, who wears the retro-hippie look, vintage shops have several advantages over mainstream stores: "It's real here. And it's cheap. It's pointless to spend all this money on everything that's copying this."

Although a few vintage-store offerings are actually new replicas of old styles, most of the merchandise is authentic. From '60s mood rings and suede miniskirts to grungy jeans and battered vinyl jackets, San Fernando Valley-area vintage stores offer retro-hippie and grunge lovers just about anything they could desire.

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"Six months ago both grunge and hippie really started taking off," said Don Arenz, manager of Aaardvark's Odd Ark in Canoga Park. "We're selling 10 times as many flannels (shirts) as last year."

Well-worn flannels, de rigueur grunge since Seattle rock groups such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam popularized them, are usually thrown together with trashed jeans or cutoffs. The $4 to $8 shirts are "worn oversized, where your hands don't show," Arenz noted.

The hottest hippie items are bell-bottoms, coupled with long-collared polyester print shirts or Jimi Hendrix-style dashiki cotton shirts.

At Ragtime Cowboy in North Hollywood, everything oversized is big now, says co-owner Joe Yanello, especially corduroy pants and flannel shirts. "I have young kids who come in with 27-inch waists who buy 40-inch waist pants and belt them. And they look great."

The store also sells an assortment of Indian-print gauze scarves, starting at $3. Sixties vests are $8 to $12, and early '70s velvet jackets sell for $20.

For slightly more upscale vintage clothing, La Rue Costumes and Vintage Clothing in North Hollywood carries elegant mini-dresses in black crepe and colorful crushed velvets, as well as billowy poet shirts, suede mini-skirts, elephant-legged pant dresses and leather car coats, with prices ranging from $15 to $60.

For those who like the old look but don't want to wear used clothes, a number of area shops specialize in "new-old" merchandise--original items from the late '60s and early '70s that have never been worn.

ReRuns owner Pamela Holdridge estimates that about 75% of her hippie-era merchandise is "new-old."

"You're wearing the original stuff without wearing old clothes," she said.

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Among the store's "new-old" offerings: patent leather lace-up go-go boots, $20; patchwork leather platform clogs, $18; wide-wale corduroy hipsters and velvet bell-bottoms, $20 to $25, and love beads, $2 to $5.

Brand-new recreations of granny-style and John Lennon-style sunglasses are sold for $8.

Junk for Joy, a Burbank shop that sells what it calls "silly and ugly clothing of good and bad taste," carries both "new-old" and used merchandise.

Among the highest priced but more popular "new-old" items are the store's six-inch gold or silver sparkling platform shoes, priced at $85.

For retro-hippies on a budget, incense sticks, plastic bubble rings and peace symbol patches can be had for less than $5.

Thoroughly beaten up black combat boots and knit beanies are the two grunge bestsellers. As for the rest of the ensemble, "anything and everything toppled on top of each other," said salesperson Vanessa Alvino. The clothes are "messy and sloppy," she said, "especially for men; they like 'em really ugly."

WHERE TO GO

Aaardvark's Odd Ark, 21434 Sherman Way, Canoga Park. (818) 999-3211.

Junk for Joy, 3314 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank. (818) 569-4903.

La Rue Costumes and Vintage Clothing, 5316 Laurel Canyon Blvd., North Hollywood. (818) 762-2072.

Ragtime Cowboy, 5332 Lankershim Blvd. North Hollywood. (818) 769-6552.

ReRuns, 4625 Van Nuys Blvd., Sherman Oaks. (818) 990-9511.

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