Show’s popularity spurs local shop owners to rehab and sometimes even reproduce ’60s-era garments
July 28, 2010|By John-John Williams IV, The Baltimore Sun
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Angela Grube quickly combed through the clothing rack ignoring several pristine looking garments before the prized item caught her eye: a black dress with a torn zipper and holes in the underarms.
Grube was shopping in the basement of a vintage store in Hampden when she found the treasure: a three-quarter length, cocktail dress adorned with bluish glass beads atop embroidered trees. She basked in her good luck.
The damage to the dress would be a quick fix for the self taught seamstress and vintage clothing store owner. More importantly, the garment appeared to have originated from the “Mad Men” era, which are the most sought after items in Grube’s Hampden store, 9th Life.
“Mad Men”, AMC’s hit drama has captured fans not only for its Emmy-winning writing and acting, but for its fashion, which has inspired throngs of men to flock to a more tapered look, and has encouraged women to embrace their voluptuousness with simple designs, and high waists that accentuate curves. Although the show takes place in the ’60s, many of the characters wear clothing associated with the ’40s and ’50s, which was common at the time, according to fashion experts.
The style craze generated by the show has been both a blessing and a curse for vintage store owners such as Grube. Before the show became a critical success, Grube would have simply gone to estate sales, relied on “drop-in” customers to bring clothes and sell her items, or gone vintage shopping for garments to stock her shelves.
Now she finds herself going online to sites such as eBay.com and Etsy.com to find clothes, and making trips to neighboring stores to not only find clothes to resell but to make “reproductions,” a two- to three-day process that requires her to take an outfit apart seam by seam and then use the pattern to make a replica garment.
“We can’t hold it in the store long enough to advertise the items,” said Grube, who has owned her store for the past two years. “You barely get it on the rack and it’s gone.”
“Mad Men” joins “Sex and The City,” “Miami Vice,” and “Thirty something” as some of the more recent television shows to shape the fashion of the time, according to Robert J. Thompson, a professor of television and popular culture at Syracuse University.
“What is interesting here is that you have so many people who look so cool,” Thompson said. “You wear the clothes and you look like you are going to have dinner with Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr.”