It's "in" for both men and women to collect and wear old clothes and accessories that date from the turn of the century to the '60s. This "out-of-sync" fashion idea has been around since 1968, when the flower children dressed up in Salvation Army hand-me- downs. The difference is that the new interest is coming all the way from the present teenagers to those who were born during the Roaring Twenties.
New York, Chicago, and some overseas cities, too, have caught the trend. In Los Angeles, the demand is being amply supplied by a specialized group of shops, mostly found along Melrose Avenue, and run from a cut above the charity thrift shop to the "high end," the Garment District's work for top quality.
Most of the clothes, incongruous with today's fashion, are sold in stores with equally incongruous names, such as Aaardvarks's, Flip, Paleeze, and Cowboys and Poodles.
Cowboys and Poodles is unique in that it offers only new merchandise from old stock sold in the '50s and '60s, such as women's capri pants, pedal pushers, miniskirts of plastic or fake fur, and men's pork pie hats, clam diggers, wraparound sunglasses, and brightly flowered surf jams. All of them delight young people who hadn't been born when these items were first manufactured.
The shop also carries brand new watches, wallets, and all of the shoes popular in that era, including men's blue suedes, bucks, and pointed toes, along with women's pastel-colored flats, low vamp baby dolls, patent loafers, and spike heels.
"Fashion makes a circle," says Phillip Heath, a partner in the shop. "These clothes blend with the current trend. They are high quality and better in the original. And they are still new."
All of the other stores must fumigate every piece of clothing before it can be offered for sale.