What makes up an outstanding find at the thrift store? Sometimes it is the color or pattern that strikes a chord. Sometimes it is the decade it was made. Sometimes it is the quality. In the case of my Stephen Sprouse finds, it was all three.
The first find was a bright lemon yellow jacket hanging on a rack at a northern Los Angeles Salvation Army. It was so bright as to almost be neon. Not cool during the fashion moment we were in at the time, where camel and grays were ruling the day.
But there was something about the well-crafted jacket I could not walk away from. I bought it knowing it would get some play when the weather warmed and folks were ready to have fun with Day-Glo clothes again. For $4.99 it was worth the fashion risk. And “Sprouse?” Why did that name scrawled across the label seem familiar?
I looked it up later and realized I had struck a bit of fashion gold. The late Stephen Sprouse was a top designer in the 1980s. He started as a design assistant to Halston, and went on to collaborate with artists (Andy Warhol, Keith Haring), musicians (Debbie Harry, Duran Duran), and produced “must see” couture shows. His designs have been described as “uptown sophistication with a downtown punk and pop sensibility.” For example, he brought us those Louis Vuitton bags with a bad attitude – the ones doused with graffiti. That’s why my blinding yellow jacket was irreverent and rich all at once. I was in love.
The next time I came across a Sprouse, also at a Salvation Army store, it was the quality I noticed immediately. Next came the full picture of what I was holding: A beautiful, expertly constructed jacket, covered in barbed wire print. Barbed wire? It was a jacket that made you say, “what the hell?” I opened the jacket, saw the label with that familiar name scrawled in a graffiti font, and just about screamed. I plunked down my $6.99 and just about electric slid out the store. My fashion geek was thrilled.
Out of all the pieces I have thrifted (and my closet it 99.9 percent thrifted) my two Sprouse finds are among those pieces I cherish more than wear. They are a fashion moment. Pieces of history. Collectible. Recently, on a whim, I looked on the internet to see if I could find my barbed wire beauty. I found the exact same jacket on sale for $1,999 on a fashion resale site. I found the matching skirt selling for $975.
Who says fashion isn’t an investment? If you know what you are looking for and how to spot quality, it surely can be. The takeaway: Know your designers.
— Report from Reise Moore