Once the epicenter of all that was hip and cutting edge in fashion, Melrose -at least the part between La Brea and Fairfax- is now just a mish-mash of kinda-sorta trendy threads and Downtown LA fashion alley type shops. The punks are gone. The boho types are all on the Eastside. The rich bitches and celebs are on Robertson. And most of the tourists would rather see superheroes on Hollywood Blvd.

De la Barracuda (see previous post) is an exception, and there are a few others, but even vintage stalwarts like Wasteland and Slow have lost the raw electricity and wearable whimsy they used to have back in the old days. You used to see the coolest, most creative looks at these shops and not just on the racks, but on the sales people themselves.

We should know. We were what you might call a Melrose maven (as a gothed-out teen, we’d take the bus there practically every weekend to ogle hot rock dudes slacking behind the counters at stores like Flash Feet, Soap Plant and Retail Slut and later, we became a sales gal there ourselves, “working” day in and day out behind the counter at a myriad of shops over the years including Necromance (still there!), Terri King, The Slut (for a second) and Erica Courtney (now on 3rd and on Robertson).

But these days the only place we ever seem to drop any dough on the avenue is at Urban Outfitters. A chain! Telling…

Okay, we gotta admit, we might be a bit bitter after our recent Wasteland experience. It’d been years since we attempted to sell clothing there -i.e. endure the humiliation of having some snotty gal in bad ‘80s garb comb through our past fashion faves, and yes some faux pas too, only to –if we’re lucky- give us a fraction of the frock’s cost. After last week, we remember why.

Photo by Wild Don Lewis for a 2006 LA Weekly story about re-selling clothes. Click here to read it.

“Have you sold here before?,” the mismatched miss asks robotically as she starts pilfering our piles.

“Yes, but it's been a while,” we say.

“Well, were looking for designer stuff… she rattles off. “Juicy, Marc Jacobs, Diesel….”

We cut her off. “There’s a few things you might be into,” we say. “Lots of good vintage pieces.”

And there was. Anna Sui slides (with glitter hearts!). A brand new cream-colored Reebok track suit (Sundance swag from 2 years ago). Some totally cute flower covered slip dresses and ‘70’s mod minis… stuff we could easily sell on Ebay if we had the time and energy.

All were rejected. From a suit case and duffle bag filled with easily 60 pieces of clothing, the buyer took 3 things, and as has been our experience in the past, it was the sub-par stuff: a black 80’s era (shocker!) spandex skirt, a mustard colored 60s-style men’s shirt that was our hubby’s (okay that was a good one), and a pair of blah black shorts. We got 20 bucks for what felt like mercy buys.

As we perused the store, it shouldn’t have come as too much of a surprise. Gone was the eclectic mix of authentic retro wear we used to love about Wasteland (‘80’s is NOT vintage people!) and in its place, a bunch of designer labels and new stuff that already saturates other shops on the block (Dim Mak hoodies have a prominent display in the men’s section).

Some amazing dresses and sweaters we got from the original Wasteland in San Francisco back in the early ‘90’s still hang in our closets, and we can remember the excitement we felt the day the Melrose post first opened its doors. Along with Jet Rag (which has also lost its mojo unfortunately), the vintage options in LA were so bountiful in the ‘90’s. It’s too bad the later has turned into another label whore re-sale store. (We like designer stuff as much as the next gal, and paying less for it used is cool –we do it on Ebay all the time- but a recognizable label doesn’t always equal a stylish piece). And lets face it, most designers these days are just knocking off the older styles to begin with.

Grunge “marcs” a moment in Vogue circa '93

The nature of vintage is that there’s only so much of it out there. And our distain for ‘80’s threads aside, time changes not only taste but the feelings evoked by certain looks. Soon enough, the ‘80’s (nu) romance will falter and ‘90’s looks will rear their ugly heads. Yup, grunge is gonna be back in a big way, and we fully expect to see Wasteland lined with flannels and doc martins when it does. Of course, they’ll probably only take the Marc Jacobs ones.

LA Weekly