Friday, 4 May 2012

Interview: Let's Get Filthy! - LA's Best Kept Fashion Secret

Don't be surprised (Londoners and anyone UK-based), if you haven't heard of Filth Mart in Los Angeles - the uber cool store that's like stumbling across an open treasure chest of original vintage fashion finds. Mainly frequented by hardcore vintage shoppers and fashwan insiders (who probably don't want us to know about their favourite place), its popularity has grown thanks to word of mouth among its hipsters fans, and to a whole heap of famous faces popping up on TV and in pap shots wearing their items.
The store, which was born on NYC's Lower East Side in 1997 and moved to WeHo (that's West Hollywood to you and I) in 2006, is the ultimate go-to for seekers of original vintage tees and denim for that all-year-round 'I'm with the music festival' look. I came across the store last year on a visit, and it's become a must-do every time I'm in L.A.

Run by husband and wife team, Mike Sportes (an artist) and Maggie Fox (a former stylist), the pair collect and curate the hottest mix of classic thrashed cotton 70s-edge rock tees (think Led Zep, Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd) and 80s-flashback tees (think any rock band with big hair). Their items stretch from the 50s right through to the 80s, covering every genre from military to moto/hotrod, surf and pop art.
As well as tees, they stock vintage vinyl, jewellery, shoes, hats, flannel shirts, fitted vests and denim (in every cut possible, from straightleg to bootcut and flare), along with classic rock and hippie staples such as old-skool Levis jackets, leather jackets and undersized army surplus jackets. 
Mike and Maggie also create their own military style jackets, as well as cutting, sewing and designing their own blank custom Filth Mart v-neck/round neck and pocket tees - all of which come with a well worn and well loved finish. Just style them up with a tribal/new wave-inspired statement necklace, denim cut-offs, a poncho and a cross body suede bag with fringe tassles....and you're good to go.

Custom Design Army Jacket © Filth Mart

Filth Mart Custom Tee © Filth Mart

And if you're wondering where the name 'Filth Mart' came from, it's a reference to "the hipsters cruisin' around at the time [2006], who were good looking and filthy. You know, the opposite, the waaaay opposite of clean cut", says Maggie. "We liked it, and wanted to dress them. So we named the store after them."
And that customer tends to be a mix of "Dudes and tomboys sprinkled with some celebs and musicians", says Maggie, as well as girls like me who love that worn-out jeans and rock tees boho vibe!

Images © Filth Mart

Speaking of celebs, Mike's artistry has extended the trademark retro feel of the store across collaborations with musicians including the band Uh Huh Her, and singer's Jackson Browne, Jonathan Wilson and Father John Misty - stamping his unique mystical and almost fantasy-inspired drawings across concert tees. The illustrations themselves could easily have come straight from an archive of dusty 70s vinyl art work. 

Singer Leisha Hailey from Uh Huh Her in a "Nocturnes" limited-edition tee © Filth Mart 
Uh Huh Her "Nocturnes" Limited-edition Tee © Filth Mart
Jonathan Wilson Concert Tee © Filth Mart 
Father John Misty Tee © Filth Mart

With its hot pink walls, black floors, and ornate silver tin ceilings, the eclectic aesthetic of the store fits perfectly with its fusion of old LA meets modern LA, boasting a hip visitor clientele that has included Lindsay Lohan, Ellen DeGeneres, Samantha Ronson and Johnny Depp, among others.
As Maggie adds, "We have a good amount of the famous folks, truth be told. I'm sure there are many that we don't recognise.. we are in Los Angeles, after all. We have a few really great clients that we always try and hook up with the sickest stuff because they love this vintage like we do. We are total dorks and get very excited about t-shirts. Usually when we get something new, we know exactly who the owner will be. Most of our people are definitely vintage t shirt connoisseurs".

So next time you're in L.A. (stylists I'm talking to you too, as the store loans from their showroom for shoots), make sure you head to 1038 N Fairfax, West Hollywood, to get your fix of the hottest vintage store this side of 1970-something.
As their website says, "No pretentions, no stares, just warmth, stories and smiles from a fervent Filth Mart". 
That's my kind of store.

For more info head to their official site HERE, and you can also follow them for all the latest news and updates via Twitter and Facebook.


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