When Penn students return to campus this August, they’ll no longer see the clearance signs, which seemed to have become a permanent fixture, in the windows of the American Apparel store on campus. Instead, they will see signs for a new vintage clothing store, Raxx Vintage West, which will open in its place just as school starts.
The opening of the new store comes after a long-time struggle for American Apparel to stay open. In January, American Apparel filed for bankruptcy and announced that all of its stores would close, including the one on Penn’s campus.
Raxx Vintage — founded by Amanda Saslow, who has been in vintage clothing for 19 years and who also runs a wholesale supplier warehouse called Bulk Vintage — has another store on South Street.
Store manager Lauren Thomas said the opportunity for Raxx Vintage to move in “just popped up about a month ago.”
“College kids and vintage clothing kind of go together amazingly,” Saslow said. “We already have a lot of Penn and Drexel students that come down to our store [on South Street].”
“We are great for theme parties,” she added, noting the popular demand for Hawaiian shirts, Halloween ensembles and Christmas sweaters.
Still, many students visit Saslow’s store for more than just a costume.
“We have a lot of students that – this is what they wear,” she said. “They don’t believe in fast fashion, they don’t believe in mall stores. They believe in recycling and they believe in quality goods.”
The store, which sits on 37th and Walnut Streets next to Pottruck Center, began its transformation during the second week of July. There was a soft-opening on Aug. 1st.
Raxx Vintage offers men’s and women’s clothing from the 1960s through the 1990s, which Thomas said appeals to college students today.
“Students are excited to get their hands on the real thing,” she said, adding that she thinks that the newfound accessibility to vintage clothing through online shopping has rekindled such interest.
Thomas noted a shift in attention from stores like American Apparel to stores with antique clothing. She said this is clear in campaigns like Urban Outfitters’ “Urban Renewal,” which offers vintage clothing but “not at the same volume” as Raxx Vintage.
Although this new store is an offshoot of the original, Thomas said that Raxx Vintage West will differ from the original store in several ways.
The space is a big factor. The location on Penn’s campus is six times the size of the South Street location, according to Thomas, with room for three changing rooms instead of just one.
Thomas said they plan on utilizing the extra space by bringing in local artists to showcase their work, “like a gallery wall exhibition.” She added that many of Raxx’s employees are also artists, and the store invites them to display their own art.
Raxx Vintage West plans to work with local antique dealers, artists and craftspeople to sell their work in the stores. This includes Philadelphia-centric ceramics, jewelry and home goods.
Saslow imagined that there be “cool collectibles for dorm rooms and small apartments, neat vintage prints and bar-wear and home goods like glasses from the 1970s and cocktail shakers from the 1950s.”
Raxx Vintage West plans to cater their merchandise towards college students’ tastes by making it more preppy. Saslow promised a “full wall of denim” and a lot of cool band T-shirts. However, Thomas said the pop-up will still stay true to the Raxx aesthetic.
“We’ll keep it young, keep it funky, and keep it affordable at price points younger kids can afford.”