If you love dressing like your grand and great-grand parents, but get the feeling that most vintage stores are gimmicky simulacra, the U has something for you. At lot of somethings, actually, expertly culled from what owner Melissa Howard refers to as "early American workwear. " It's easy enough to walk by Stock Vintage (143 East 13th St), unless you bother to peek through the grilled windows and double wooden doors. Curiosity pays off; the smallish, Americana-strewn space is crammed with racks of well-worn leather jackets and barn coats, stacks of weathered Carharts and striped overalls, faded button downs and thread bare tees, brass-buckled leather belts, canvas army and navy duffels, and bucket-loads of boots, all scuffed and beaten. Most of it dates from the turn of the last century, although Howard has a penchant for 1970's custom leather jackets.
Howard grew up in in the antique industry --her mother ran a store in the Midwest, and branched out to apparel at 19, when she became a business partner with a vintage store. She took to scouring the country's flea markets, selling her findings at the flea market on 26th and 6th where she established a still-loyal customer base (including a myriad of prestigious designers --Ralph Lauren uses her pieces for inspiration as well as resale for his RL line).
Stock Vintage itself has only been around for two years, and was originally intended to be a show room, but has become "a real destination" for discerning relic seekers as well as high-end purveyors. Most of the offerings were originally worn by men --but fret not ladies, they were smaller back in the day.
For all of you half-pints, Howard has also started seeking out boys' clothing and sturdier women's victorian-era pieces --think pintucked blouses and slim tweed vests. Don't expect frills and lace; Howard says she's "always been attracted to men's wear," particularly pieces from the 1920's through the 1940's, as well as those leather jackets, naming Gandalf, East West Musical Instruments, and Block Bilt as her favorites. If they're yours too, or you think they could be, head over. Howard is knowledgeable and bereft of the superiority complex brandished by so many of her peers, plus in the unlikely event that she doesn't have the object of your desires, she'll know which stores will.