I'm from Indiana — a fact you'll learn about me within the first 30-minutes of nearly any conversation. As a born and bred midwesterner, I take great pride in my small town roots and will proudly admit that to anyone (often without being prompted). And among all the things that the great "Hoosier" state has to offer, is one of the best cities for vintage shopping. But at the risk of ruining one of fashion's best-kept secrets, I'm sharing some tips and tricks to keep in mind if you ever find yourself in anyone of the the centrally-located "flyover" states or are on the hunt for a major steal.
"What's in Indiana?" or "where is that, exactly" are two follow-up questions that I get a lot once people find out I'm from the Midwest. Though I typically have a cheeky response ready to go about the famed Indianapolis 500 or our affinity for corn, it's truly the untapped vintage fashion market that sets my little home state apart from the likes of New York or California.
With picked-over pricey vintage shops completely dominating the secondhand fashion industry in much bigger cities, it leaves less room for smaller boutiques and their thrift-store prices to thrive (these more well-known names are often sourcing product from thrift stores in bulk). Not to mention, you're more likely to find a rare gem, like an authentic vintage band tee, for nearly one-fourth of the price.
I've learned living in NYC, that vintage shopping at a highly-curated retailer can mean absorbent price tags and picked-over product. Though most of the time, this "finders' fee" is completely justified (especially if you're looking for something specific), for those hoping to simply expand their denim collection or stock up on cozy knitwear and well-tailored outerwear, these untapped markets are a great place to find your favorite brands at dirt cheap prices.
A prime example, these vintage '90s Levi jeans from an Ohio-based Etsy shop are going for $42.50, while in bigger cities you may be hard-pressed to find a pair that were less than $100. On the other end of the spectrum, eclectic Chicago-based shop, Kokorokoko Vintage (Instagram-darling, Susan Alexandra follows the brand on Instagram) is serving up epic outerwear finds, like this cropped faux leather blazer, $66, which is a fashion-girl staple in 2020. Regardless of what I'm looking for, I usually have the most success when I'm visiting family at home or returning to my Alma Mater, Miami of Ohio, for a weekend reunion.
So before floating over to your tried-and-true vintage boutique, I suggest perusing local thrift shops (location permitting, of course) but otherwise, Etsy is your best bet for the real deals. And to ensure you're getting the most bang for your buck you can even categorize shops according to city, state or zip code.
Just ahead, I'm offering up the all the vintage pieces from cities in the Midwest that I'm shopping right now and they are definitely worth a second glance.