Go Retro With Vintage Finds

Go Retro With Vintage Finds


The Alameda Point Vintage Fashion Faire celebrates 10 years and kicks off a second decade and pays homage to the ’80s. Get ready to show your fashion creativity.

Ready to get your retro fashion on? 2020 marks the 10-year anniversary of the Alameda Point Vintage Fashion Faire, and its two-day celebration is gonna rock. On Friday, March 13, and Saturday, March 14, over 70 vintage vendors will set up inside Michaan’s Auction Annex in Alameda for one of the Bay Area’s largest vintage shopping event.

Friday, from 6 to 10 p.m., there’s a cocktail party with DJ Raul Castro spinning ’80s vinyl, a fashion contest (with a “Back to the ’80s” theme), and early shopping for serious style lovers. Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., the shopping fair continues. Both days will have food trucks on site. Expect to find high-quality pieces ranging from Victorian era vintage to present day designs, plus couture, accessories, and even vintage home decor and vanities.

Local vintage queen Sandra Michaan is the driving force behind the biannual, fashion-oriented vintage fair (as well as the much-loved monthly Alameda Point Antiques Faire).

“You’ll never see so much fashion under one roof,” said Michaan about the upcoming fair. “But you don’t have to collect vintage to enjoy it. As long as you like fashion, you’ll love the show.” Shoppers will find everything from ’90s neon to historical costuming.

“We have re-enactment clothing, period-correct clothes, military. We have hoop skirts, corsets, vintage jewelry, accessories, belts, Chanel bags, lots of neon, ’80s sleeves, mom jeans — we have it all.”

The notion that all vintage clothing is petite doesn’t apply here, where, Michaan explained, there is a big range of plus size garments. A lot of vintage clothing is smaller in the waist, she said, “because people wore undergarments that sucked them in hardcore, but we have clothes in all sizes. All bodies can find clothing here.”

People who want custom suits will also score big, because there are several vendors who specialize in men’s clothing and vintage suits.

Even if the guys don’t like to shop, Michaan suggested inviting them along: “We have a lot of people who bring their husbands, and they listen to the band and have a great time. The Friday night party is a great date night.”

People are encouraged to bring their kids (16 and under are free with an adult), because Michaan wants young people to appreciate vintage styles. And good news for everyone: There will be legitimate dressing rooms for trying on your finds in private. It is, as Michaan said, all very civilized.

Here’s what else Michaan shared about the fair, why younger generations love vintage, current trends in fashion, and other topics.

What can shoppers expect from the vintage fair?

It’s a vintage wonderland. The vendors make outstanding displays. They bring mannequins and accessories, luggage, and record players, plus vintage-related goods like, bar ware, vintage vanities, hampers, so much cool stuff. They decorate their booths perfectly.

It’s not all period clothing, although you’ll definitely find that, too. There are also vendors with modern-looking, on-trend clothes. But instead of being fast fashion, it’s all part of the reuse economy and a green way to shop.

Our vintage dealers come from all over, including Washington, Oregon, Nevada, and Arizona. There are a lot of vendors from Los Angeles, and, of course, all over the Bay Area from Santa Cruz to Sonoma. It’s a big range. Vendors save up their best merchandise for this show.

Most of our customers are from California, but we have had people come from Tokyo and Australia for the event. There are a lot of people who come just to find unique items for their closet, but we also have stylists who come and buy red carpet items and high-end stuff for their clients. That said, there are great deals. Even if you are on a budget you can find things here.


How does vintage play into the reuse economy?

Vintage is not disposable fashion. The hand-sewn construction of vintage clothing stands the test of time. More and more young people are coming to our vintage shows because they are interested in sustainable clothing. When I was first collecting vintage in high school, people did not think it was cool. I do all of our social media, and I see that our monthly and semi-annual shows are having younger and younger engagement. I see groups of friends talking online about reuse.

On that note, I encourage everyone to get their prom dresses here. No one else will have the same dress as you. You will be one of a kind.

I am 100 percent all about reusing, recycling, and repurposing. I do this with all my stuff. If one of my vintage pieces falls apart, I can use the parts in a new way. I’ll take the buttons and move them to another coat. These clothes can live forever. One of our vendors, The Window Lady, repurposes doilies into dresses and reuses everything. She makes vests out of old ties. Her prices are fantastic.


Tell us about the “Back to the ’80s” theme.

At each fair, we have a themed fashion contest with three local judges who are fashion and design experts. The grand prize is a $100 voucher for the fair, plus we have really good prizes for finalists. We have a great time with the fashion show. You don’t have to dress ’80s, but often people go with the theme. It’s a lot of fun; there’s a light show, a DJ, everyone has a good time. It’s a great time to show off your fashion creativity.


What vintage fashion trends are you seeing?

I love that big sleeves are back. The ’80s are happening. Big sleeves are official. Victorian sleeves, leg ’o mutton sleeves, balloon sleeves. It’s all so Dynasty. So perfect with our theme. Other themes I’m seeing are vintage T-shirts; ’90s chunky boots with the square toe; babydoll dresses; floral; Laura Ashley dresses; mom jeans and crop tops; pastel bucket hats (like the Kangols from the ’90s); and neon colors in both fashion and makeup (you’ll see tons of neon from the vendors at this event).


How did the vintage fair start?

I started collecting vintage in high school (in Petaluma) because I was a theater actress. I was watching old films and doing theater and I needed things that were period correct. So I researched and did costuming and started sewing. That’s how I started having a passion for collecting. Later, in 1998, we started the Alameda Point Antiques Faire. We had (and still have) vintage clothes dealers at the antiques fair, but they started to ask me to produce an indoor show. You see, vintage clothing is delicate. The vendors wanted a place to bring their really special, high-end couture pieces. Things they didn’t want outside at a flea market.

In 2010 we started the indoor show and kept outgrowing our spaces, we would have to waitlist vendors. Now we have the vintage show in a huge warehouse twice a year. There are so many vendors that we take over an entire airplane hangar. It’s a community. It’s a big celebration. We have vendors who have never missed a show and customers who have never missed a show. And of course we are always getting in new and different goods and vendors so the inventory is always changing.

Alameda Point Vintage Fashion Faire, Fri., March 13, 6-10 p.m., early buy shopping; 6 p.m. cocktail party and 7:30 p.m. fashion contest,  $15 advance, $20 at the door; Sat., March 14, 11a.m.- 5 p.m., general admission $5. Michaan’s Annex Auction Showroom, 2701 Monarch St., Alameda, buy tickets at BrownPaperTickets.


Tips for Buying Vintage

If you’re new to vintage, start with something that’s easy and then ease your way into collecting. Get a high quality item — a coat is a great place to start — that’s special. Then go from there and build around it.

Consider buying for your body type. Which fashion eras best accent your unique shape? As an example, if you’re curvy, dresses from the 1950s will accentuate your curves.

Try everything on. If you are attracted to an item, if you think it looks cool, give it a go. Vintage knitwear, for example, doesn’t look great on the hanger, but it looks fabulous on. You never know what will suit you until you put it on.

Wear something that’s easy to take on and off if you plan on doing a lot of shopping. If you plan to attend an event that won’t have dressing rooms, wear a stretchy bodysuit or leggings and tank top that you can layer things over.

When buying for an event (wedding, prom, anniversary), shop in the same undergarments that you will wear to the event, so you know how the garment will fit. When buying for daily life, wear similar undergarments to the ones you’ll wear day-to-day.

Faces of the East Bay