Fast-fashion retailers have been stocking their shelves with hordes of retro-reminiscent garments. Vintage-inspired ‘60s mini dresses, ‘70s bell sleeves and ‘90s mesh have all made recent reappearances on runways and racks alike. Milwaukeeans who prefer an original, one-of-a-kind vintage piece should head to Kinnickinnic Avenue, which has transformed into a vintage paradise, jam-packed with locally-owned brick-and-mortar stores.
There are more than a few reasons to begin shopping vintage. High quality, timeless style and affordable prices are some of the perks of buying used clothing that was crafted to last. There’s also the positive environmental impact (hello, recycling!) and the boost to our local economy. Here are some of our favorites.
Milwaukee’s most renowned vintage store is beloved for a reason. The bright purple paintjob and groovy orange lettering are hard to miss while cruising down KK. Even though the longstanding vintage clothier has recently met some competition, the shop’s method of madness is tried and true. Owners Sage Schwarm and Becky Heck purchase items from the public, and the clothes are complemented by a hefty collection of vinyl records. Bonus points for the adorable French bulldog who greets shoppers upon entry.
2649 S Kinnickinnic Ave.
Thanks to the convenience of eBay and Etsy, selling vintage has become less of a career and more of a hobby for some. Alive and Fine owner Ashley Smith has vintage dealing in her genes; she grew up watching her parents buy and sell vintage furniture. In 2016, Smith began to carry on the family legacy with Alive & Fine. Curated entirely by Smith, the shop features clothing for women, men and children. Smith’s experienced eye also spots furniture and other home goods, both of which are readily available for shoppers who may not be looking for clothes.
2652 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
For those seeking a kitschy thrill, Tip Top Atomic Shop is the cat’s pajamas. The tiny storefront is well-stocked with crisp bowling shirts, colorful Hawaiian garb and flattering fit-and-flare dresses. Unlike it’s contemporaries, Tip Top is certainly focused on a certain bygone era: the 1950s and 1960s. Accessories and knickknacks like martini shakers and lunchboxes line the shelves of this colorful store. For those who aren’t into true vintage, the store also carries new, vintage-inspired pieces from contemporary fashion designers.
2343 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
The most recent addition to the Kinnickinnic Ave. vintage vista is Plume, a boutique with countless years of selling experience. Like most young vintage dealers, owners Maggie Solveson and Sheila Teruty got their start hustling clothes online. The duo traded in their keyboards for floorboards in 2017 and have been curating the storefront ever since. Plume’s ever-changing stock receives an extra boost from a few of the ladies’ vintage-selling friends, many of whom are Milwaukee-based, too.
3001 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. #A
Don’t let the Cutting Group storefront fool you! Collected Goods may share real estate with the hairdresser chain, but after taking two steps to the right side of the door, you’ll forget all about the sound of razors and blow driers. The selection at this vintage boutique is huge, the prices are affordable and the owners are charming – what more could a vintage lover need?
2654 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.