HARLINGEN — Downtown Harlingen is full of antique stores with knick-knacks and furniture. But in recent years, and more specifically last year, the craze of vintage clothing has increased. This allowed vintage sellers to grow and expand and has inspired other people to be immersed in this conscious way of shopping.
Mia Garza was used to vintage shopping and selling due to growing up around her parents’ store, Jackson Street Antiques.
Once she became a mother, she considered starting her own business venture. She started selling vintage clothing eight years ago.
“I have always worn vintage clothes and have always been drawn to it,” she said.
Garza asked her parents to have a small section in the store, and then got bigger, which she now considers to be overgrown.
Garza, 31, began to sell her clothing at her family’s antique store around age 23.
Garza realized through Market Days or Art Night that her section was full of people.
“Everyone was shoulder to shoulder,” she said.
Because it was gaining attention, four feet of space was added to her area. Garza knew there was a market but had no idea her clothing would sell the way it does now.
“Not everybody goes into antique stores, but if you are going to go in there you like and appreciate quality older pieces,” Garza said.
“I was confident we were going to do well, but it definitely surpassed my expectations,” she said.
In 2021, vintage shopping has become more of the norm, which has attracted a new audience.
“People have more time to think about fast fashion and the planet. It is also a hobby and a safe thing to do. You can shop online, and it is definitely a trend. I do see tons of people doing it now,” she said.
Garza believes there was always a crowd for vintage shopping, but it is now more acceptable.
“I think there used to be a little bit of a taboo that if you thrift, it means you are poor. But it is just affordable, and I do think it has always been here in Harlingen and there is more of it,” Garza said.
Though the vintage shopping craze has increased with Gen Z and millennials, Garza said she has clients who range from their 40s to 60s. She said people are looking for quality antique pieces, and there are people in every age group looking for something affordable that will never go out of style.
“I think a lot of people are taking it more seriously, and it is great. I get to work selling and decorating. I get to shop. I am going to do this for as long as I can,” she said.
When it comes to competition, Garza said it hasn’t affected her as much, which means more people are buying.
“Have fun with it. I have big old earrings, a colorful dress. This absolutely sparks my creativity, and that is a competition within myself. How weird can you look today? How fun can you make that outfit?” she said.
Inti Rocha, 26, who is also a Harlingen native like Garza, has been selling vintage clothing out of her own closet since 2018. Rocha also has a jewelry business.
She said she sold selected hand-picked items. Now, she does her research and looks for pieces she can bring back to the Valley.
“My mom and I would always go to garage sales, consignment shops and thrift stores. She was my biggest influence,” Rocha said.
“At first, I was like, ‘Mom, I don’t want to shop old, I want new,’ but we would find really good things. I would find better things than at stores,” she said.
Rocha agrees with vintage being a rare find, and she believes more people are gravitating toward that kind of shopping.
“It is rare you will find it anywhere else. That is one thing I love about it like this skirt. I don’t know anyone else who has it,” she said.
At the same time, Rocha agreed there is a social consciousness of how detrimental fast fashion can be to the environment, and people are able to be creative and explore as many outfit combinations as possible.
“There are so many factors to it people do not realize. Also, prices have gone up for everything so they probably think they might as well save and still look cute,” Rocha said.
As someone who sells vintage clothing, she hopes it continues to be something people opt for and is not just a momentary trend.
“I don’t think it is going to die down. I think it is the opposite,” she said.
Rocha wants people to buy second hand but also encourages expressing themselves through fashion.
Rocha also hosts a market where she features only women entrepreneurs and believes in supporting small businesses.
This Harlingen market is called “Mercadito De Mujeres.”
“I encourage people to help us, those who take our time to curate and find pieces to sell.
There is some kind of freedom in being yourself and doing your part in keeping clothes from filling a landfill. I think that is the best part about vintage,” Rocha said.