Everyone knows Palm Springs as a destination for design, golf, and tennis, but it also overflows with vintage and contemporary resale clothing. The number of secondhand stores in the area continues to grow; today, at least 51 shops sell resale wear.
“Vintage has exploded,” says Mitchel Karp, proprietor of Mitchells, where almost 5,000 items of retro designer clothing and “groovy accessories” await another spin in the sun. Karp credits the sartorial surge to JetBlue’s debut of a nonstop flight from New York City to Palm Springs three years ago, a move duplicated by Alaska and United airlines. “My clientele is not local,” he says. “They come from Brooklyn, L.A., San Francisco, and Seattle.”
Karp has been in business for six years with an inventory of sought-after labels such as Lanvin, Jil Sander, Pucci, and Tom Ford and rarities including Holly Harp and the Spanish designer Cortefiel.
Diagonally across South Indian Canyon Drive is M, a designer vintage store that Monika Dickerson opened in late 2017 in the wake of her 40-year career as a stylist for music videos and fashion magazines. Her inventory of women’s couture includes garments from Vivienne Westwood, Issey Miyake, Jean Paul Gaultier, Bill Blass, and Norman Norell. “I watch all the collections, and if there’s a current trend, like small purses or jumpsuits, I can offer the original thing in vintage,” she shares.
The Fine Art of Design in Palm Desert also specializes in couture labels (and dynamic window displays!). Pristine ’60s and ’70s pieces from design houses such as Chanel, Missoni, and Courrèges go for a fraction of their original value.
Other Palm Springs stops include Gypsyland, the place for vintage T-shirts and bohemian looks; The Frippery, a boutiquelike setting with a focus on the 1950s through ’80s; and Iconic Atomic, with a trendy collection of retro wear that keeps track of what’s back on trend. Even Bazar, which primarily stocks new items reflecting the chic design sense of its Parisian owner, features a back section of intriguing and well-priced vintage garb.
And it would be a shame for any lover of throwbacks not to visit Dazzles, a 21-year-old Palm Springs mainstay brimming with antique jewelry. Owner Mike Sauls, who can spot a real Bakelite piece from 6 feet away, has a jaw-dropping collection of Pop flower pins from the ’60s, Eisenberg, Weiss, and of course, Bakelite. (Dazzles will open a second store in Borrego Springs later this year.)
PHOTOGRAPH BY @BEARLEADERCHRONICLE
The Fine Art of Design in Palm Desert specializes in couture labels.
One attribute that sets Greater Palm Springs apart is the top-notch resale shops filled with contemporary clothing. Longtime consignments Marga’s Repeat Boutique and Affordable Designer Consignments, both in Palm Desert, and the newer Lux in Rancho Mirage, are well-organized and offer women’s clothing ranging from premium department store brands to couture, some new with tags. All three vend glam dresses, jewelry, and furs, reflecting the valley’s formal philanthropic scene.
Nonprofit-run resale shops offer bargains that benefit the greater community. Desert Best Friend’s Closet in Palm Desert prices everything for $5 ($4 a piece if you buy five items), and owner Connie Graham Golds uses proceeds from the shop to fund a “dress for success” operation in the back, where job-seekers get guidance from stylists, free outfits, and resume help. Her outpost offers excellent brands at the lowest prices in the valley.
• See related story: Where to Shop in Cathedral City.
PHOTOGRAPH BY CHRISTINE HAHN
The Frippery in Palm Springs.
PHOTOGRAPH BY @BEARLEADERCHRONICLE
M in Palm Springs.
• See related story: Where to Shop in Palm Desert.
In Rancho Mirage, Collector’s Corner Premier Resale Shop, run by Eisenhower Health Auxiliary, and the American Cancer Society Discovery Shop also deliver picks at reasonable prices. The former is a large space filled with womenswear and a men’s shop upstairs. The latter excels in men’s Italian suits, dress shirts, and fine women’s brands.
Given this area’s donor base, even basic thrift shops yield amazing finds. Goodwill (in Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, and La Quinta), Angel View (with 10 stores valleywide), and Revivals (in Palm Springs, Cathedral City, and Palm Desert) are less picked-over than thrifts elsewhere in the country, and all turn up gems — the Rancho Mirage Goodwill once sold a Thierry Mugler jacket for only $3.
The latest trend in thrift stores is a rise in outlets, where unpriced items are piled in bins and given absurdly low rates at checkout. Angel View has a large outlet in Desert Hot Springs, and regulars know the bins often include boxes that have never been opened. If you’re willing to dig, you’ll be rewarded. Similarly, Revivals operates a clearance center behind its Palm Springs store on South Palm Canyon Drive. Clothing there is literally pennies on the dollar. Proof: A yellow wool Robert Riél blazer originally from Neiman Marcus went for 25 cents.
Affordable Designer Consignments
American Cancer Society Discovery Shop
Angel View Outlet
Desert Hot Springs
Collector’s Corner Premier Resale Shop
Desert Best Friend’s Closet
The Fine Art of Design
Marga’s Repeat Boutique
Revivals Clearance Center
Allison Engel is the co-author of ThriftStyle: The Ultimate Bargain Shopper’s Guide to Smart Fashion (Charlesbridge).