Blame the economy, politics, ugly contemporary clothing (UGGS and leggings),etc. The fact is that consumers are turning away from the runway and fashion weeks around the world to celebrate their reclamation of style. Chicago resident Trent Marinelli, co-owner of Knee Deep Vintage store, had the opportunity to catch up with Remezcla and shed some light into a sometimes hidden past that is the art of vintage clothing and style. In January of 2008 Trent Marinelli and Carlos Lourenco founded Knee Deep Vintage in the heart of Pilsen.
“We had been working jobs we didn’t like for a few years and in the meantime selling vintage house ware and clothes on eBay,” says Marinelli. Lourenco and Marinelli both lived in Brighton Park at the time and their vision matched the locale. Marinelli says, “ We decided that as soon as we had enough clothing we would look for a space, quit our jobs, and open the store. [Pilsen] is unique, affordable, and creative.”
Over the years the revival of vintage clothing has resurrected into inspirational pieces down the catwalks around the world for major fashion houses, but it has also found its way into our own back yard. Knee Deep is one example of the organic development of such trend here in the city of Chicago. Vintage clothing can be subjectively defined as quality clothing (sometimes limited) that was produced between the 1920’s and 1970’s. When asked about his essential list for clothing he says, “A.P.C New Standard Jeans, distressed/destroy color vintage t-shirts, rock shirts, black Chuck Taylor shoes, and hoodies.” Marinelli has his personal style based on what he finds comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. “ I’m a t-shirt and jeans kind of guy, but I always look for a particular feel and cut in my clothing. New Standards fit my body type very well, made with raw denim, and there is no branding and embellishment on the pocket. I feel like it’s okay to spend a little more on jeans because I wear them everyday.” His mind set on quality is what many believe to be the true gem behind vintage clothing.
“We pick the majority of our inventory piece by piece, be it from thrift stores, estates, private calls, or buy at stores.”
At Knee Deep there have been very special pieces from all over the spectrum ranging from Yves Saint Laurent all the way to novelty Members Only jackets.
“It’s going to sound a little cheesy, but we really take our inspiration from crisscrossing the country. Every place has a different look and feel to it. It really helps if you see what people are wearing and making in different places and taking the best from that.” The style hunters trek regions of Montana, New Mexico, and California to name a few, but they have their heart set on Chicago. “ Chicago is unpretentious, straight-forward, melting pot kind of city, and all of that is reflected in our store. It is the quintessential American city, and our penchant for iconic American fashion like Levi’s and Gunne Sax as well as our commitment to affordable prices is definitely influenced by the city.” The shop is in the loop with style and they cover various trends such as letterman jackets and denim jackets that have started a resurgence in the mainstream fashion world.
Marinelli speaks about fashion and style as something that raised him throughout his life. “It’s something I’ve always loved and appreciated. I would go to garage sales and thrift stores as a kid and continued to do so as an adult and moved to Chicago. I lived in Wicker Park and became friends with people that influenced my personal sense of style there too.” Marinelli lives in the moment of style every day and his endeavors have led him to such great heights so far, but it has not stopped him from continuing his business. Soon he plans to go into collecting furniture pieces and plans to open a shop in the West Loop for furniture shoppers by appointment. Marinelli says to his fans:
“ I’d like to tell everyone to support all of the wonderful vintage stores all over Chicago. The city has some great places like Deliciously Vintage, Preservation Society, Kokorocko, Very Best, and Seek.”
Although Chicago continues to be the fashion locale for Knee Deep there are many more style havens around the country that foster the same nature; look good, feel good.