The first Vintage Fashion Expo took place in January, 1988 in Oakland – conceived by three partners at a time when there was only one other vintage show in the country, in Massachusetts. These three noticed the intense interest in the older fashions, clothes and accessories on the part of many women (and men), often in connection with antique dolls and other old toys. Just one year later it had grown to be the largest vintage clothing show in the nation (more eastern shows had begun). It continues today as one of the nation’s largest and most varied vintage fashion shows, and the longest running, two-day vintage fashion show in the country.
Five weekend Expos are staged annually in California, two in San Francisco at The Concourse Exhibition Center on 8th and Brannan Streets, and three in Santa Monica at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium at Main and Pico. These shows are an integral part of California’s fashion scene and draw celebrities who love vintage, fashion designers who appreciate and utilize vintage, movie costumers and costume designers, and youngsters and oldsters who appreciate the uniqueness and quality of these vintage fashions.
Each Expo includes 75 to 100 dealers from across the country and the clothing, textiles, jewelry, and accessories they offer for sale cover a span of more than 125 years as diverse as the repressed Victorian era, the Roaring Twenties, the humorous platform-shoe/hip-hugging era of the 1970s and the more recent Retro Styles sought by today’s fashion-conscious teens and twenty-somethings.
The great interest in vintage clothing generated by the Expos has prompted many of the top names on the American fashion scene to make use of many “old” ideas as inspirations for their present day creations. These shows have also proven to be a virtual treasure trove for those in the film industry searching for authentic clothing and accessories for period movies.
While a majority of exhibitors in each show carry women’s clothing and accessories, a few of them offer expanded selections of hard-to-find men’s and children’s clothing.
Shopping hours at all Expos run from 10:30 am to 6 pm on Saturdays and from 11 am to 5 pm on Sundays. Admission is $10. An Early Buying session runs from 9 to 10:30 am on Saturday and carries a $20 admission. Free Sunday return for all admissions.
The Expos are produced and managed by Vintage Expositions, Inc. - made up of four "partners" including John Maxwell (the only original, founding partner), Lis Normoyle and Fred Dueball whose vintage business LUXE has been active for twenty years with Vintage Clothing, Accessories and Jewelry and Art Deco furniture, Robert and Kristi Alvarez owners of Blue Moon Antiques specializing in Vintage Clothing, Accessories and Estate Jewelry, and Doris Raymond - owner of The Way We Wore whose warehouse holds more than one half million vintage fashion items with which she serves many movie costumers and costume designers.
The shows are co-sponsored by the Federation of Vintage Fashion, a national non-profit, educational association of collectors, dealers and students of fashion.