On a cold Saturday morning not too long ago, I almost passed over a rack packed with polyester sweaters.
Luckily I didn’t. I flipped through the hangers and caught my breath when Kenny Rogers’ face appeared.
Here were two vintage T-shirts, one from The Gambler 1979 tour and the other from his American tour of 1980. They both were the perfect cotton-poly blend and well-worn enough to be super-soft. For a dollar, they both were mine.
Later, I realized they were way too big. These T-shirts could become a sewing project or a side hustle. So I listed them on Etsy and waited.
I ended up selling one of the T-shirts for $80 to a woman in Colorado. That’s enough to fund my estate sale budget. But my sale was nothing compared to the deals on “Slobby’s World.” This show on Netflix is like “American Pickers” and “Pawn Stars.” Instead of dealing with vintage motorcycles or weapons, Slobby Robby hunts for vintage clothing from the 1980s and 1990s.
I’ll admit, Robby is a character that takes a few episodes to take seriously. But this show is a highly bingeable combination of the business of flipping secondhand, a history of Gen X gear along with what’s the difference between fakes and bootlegs.
I’ve been a dedicated secondhand shopper since high school. Buying clothes this way saves a ton of money. The hunt makes shopping fun. Plus what you find is different from the same things hanging in every store. Often the thrifted version is made to last a lot longer than today’s fast fashion.
Sure, these are clothes, but there are stories behind each item. Just like Miranda Priestly said in “The Devil Wears Prada,” a blue sweater is not just a blue sweater.
Occasionally, accessories or clothing will show up on a show like “American Pickers,” but that’s rare.
There have been a few shows about vintage clothing over the past decade, but they’ve been short-lived and hard to find. One of my favorites so far was “L.A. Frock Stars.” This show originally aired on the Smithsonian Channel and follows Doris Raymond, owner of “The Way We Wore.” She’s sent her vintage finds to shows like “Boardwalk Empire” and movies like “Titanic.” The show follows her as she searches for vintage pieces and helps people find the perfect look, often a vintage dress. Raymond weaves in details about designers and why clothes were made differently way back when.
If “Frock Stars” dresses actress Debi Mazar and burlesque dancer Dita Von Teese, “Slobby’s World” dresses their kids.
Robby started with a store, “Generation Cool,” in Tuscon, Arizona. He deals more in jerseys, sneakers and menswear than vintage dresses, but I’m still watching.
It’s fascinating to see people covet things I remember growing up, like color-blocked track suits and oversized Kriss Kross Looney Tunes tees.
Even if I’m not into the logo-billboard clothing that fills his store, it’s still a treat watching Robby and his team remake a pair of shoes by painting them and adding a raccoon tail. Voila! Mario Brothers shoes.
And if I thought my Kenny Rogers flip was a coup, you should see Robby’s prices.
With his show, you can get a little vintage fix and not even need the hand sanitizer.