Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Vintage Look More Affordable These Days Asia's Economic Woes Are Even Trickling Down to Price of Old Clothes

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Vintage Look More Affordable These Days Asia's Economic Woes Are Even Trickling Down to Price of Old Clothes

Article excerpt

It was just a couple of years ago that the word got out. Old athletic shoes and vintage jeans were worth lots of money.

The Japanese, in love with the American culture of James Dean and Michael Jordan, were paying hundreds of dollars for the right Air Jordans and the right button-fly Levi's.

The good news is that there's still money in those old clothes. The bad news is that there isn't as much as there used to be. It has to do with the stock market, of course, and the international money market, what with exchange rates and all.

Pretty heady company for old jeans. But the financial troubles in Asia haven't just affected the big important products like crude oil and paper. They've played hell with the price of old Air Jordans, vintage Levi's and those really tacky rayon Hawaiian shirts from the 1940s.

It was, after all, the Japanese who were paying the really big prices and they just don't have as many dollars as they used to.

Curtis Chariton, owner of Hypnotique in Five Points, said he's seen some prices drop by as much as two-thirds. A late 1940s rayon Hawaiian-print shirt, for example, may have gone for $300 a year or two ago. Now it's more like $100.

It's still not a bad price for an old shirt. He's got a pre-World War II Levi's denim jacket that is still worth a hefty $600. But the value last year was about $1,100, Chariton said.

He's been in the vintage clothes business for 10 years, so he's seen it rise and fall.

In the late 1980s, when it first started growing, people were finding old stashes of clothes that had been in warehouses for years. Companies were forming left and right to get into the business. And when word of hundreds of dollars for old tennis shoes and jeans started getting publicity, everyone started digging through their closets.

It really skewed supply and demand, he said. Everything was saturated, the Asian crisis hit and lots of vintage companies went under.

Now, he said, most of his buyers are Americans. …

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