With Black Market coming up this Sunday, we wanted to introduce you to some of the kind folks who will be bringing their wares for your purchase, amusement, and bemusement. Ally and Ollie Vintage is a bi-coastal vintage shop that got its start out in Oakland, CA when cousins Alex-Chelsea Patterson and Olivia Dantes finally had enough of shitty sales-clerk attitudes and realized they could curate a better collection than anybody. I had a chance to talk with owner Alex-Chelsea about the roots of her vintage love and being the only sellers to have Jello Biafra’s personal collection.
What got you started in vintage?
We both grew up in the punk scene and were influenced by the fashion of our rock idols. The two of us have spent our whole lives hunting for vintage pieces to add to our personal collections and to bring us just a little aesthetically closer to our heroes – people like Joey Ramone, Marc Bolan, Jello Biafra, Debbie Harry, Billy Idol, Posion Ivy and Bettie Page. My mother is a personal friend of Alice Cooper and I know for me that my mum was a huge influence in my style and taste. Flash forward some years, and Olivia and I were living together in Oakland and spending every day shopping on Telegraph Avenue or Haight Street for vintage clothes. We had friends asking us for style advice and photographers asking us to pick out wardrobes for their models. So it hit us that we should start selling our finds as a full time gig. We also got sick of ridiculously high markups and rude sales people so we decided to create an affordable selection with a welcoming atmosphere.
Why do you think vintage is so attractive to people?
I think vintage clothes connect us right to what we always wanted to be as kids. I know that I personally idolized the Ramones growing up and I think my closet resembles what could be the outfits of a missing female piece to the legendary band. Olivia is an internationally published pinup model and she certainly encompasses that gorgeous Bettie Page style. You just can’t get those kinds of looks genuinely with new clothes.Moreover, vintage clothes are one of a kind. We live in a mass produced generation. It’s nice to own something that is authentically your own. You’re never gonna show up at a party and see someone wearing the same vintage 1940s cocktail dress as you.
Going through your shop, which has such an awesome collection, I get the sense of a very eclectic California. Was that intentional at all or just happen based on where you source the clothing? Do you notice a difference region by region in the US of what’s available?
I recently relocated to the East Coast and we decided to keep the shop running from both sides of the country. Being that both of us are from the Bay Area, our personal tastes are California eclectic naturally. It’s great having a buyer on each side of the country because the selection definitely differs from coast to coast. Out here in Massachusetts, there are a lot more hidden gems to explore while in California places tend to be discovered by the masses earlier on. But it’s all about having an eye for it.
You’ve mentioned being the only sellers with Jello Biafra’s personal vintage. How did you receive that honor?
I was an intern at Jello Biafra’s record label, Alternative Tentacles, last year. One day all the interns were going through boxes of records and reorganizing, when a fellow intern and I discovered several boxes full of Jello’s personal clothing. He had asked that we get rid of them so I suggested to him that I buy the clothes off of him to sell in my vintage store. Jello is happy to see the clothes go to his fans.
Jello is an avid vintage collector himself!!
You can catch Ally and Ollie Vintage along with over 90 other vendors this Sunday at the Cambridge Community Center from 11-5