Bell bottoms, blouses and bags: Boone’s thrifting scene


Darcy Sluder

Miles Cole, a senior apparel design major, pictured at Anna Banana’s Fine Consignment on King Street.

Jaclyn Bartlett, Reporter

The slide and clink of hangers, the lingering mothball smell, textures ranging from itchy to velvety … this is thrifting. Whether it’s the search for classic bell bottoms, a nicely broken in leather jacket, baggy grandparent-esque sweaters or the perfect Levi’s, Boone has been taken over by its thrifting scene. 

The trends are so apparent that university apparel design majors say thrifted and vintage clothing has certainly grown, owing this to the university’s distinct style and culture. 

Senior apparel design and merchandising major, Miles Cole, has a front row seat to App State’s unique fashion with his experience co-running the university’s student-run fashion magazine, The Collective.

Cole fell in love with fashion because of how it provides an outlet for self expression.

“It’s fun to me, essentially playing dress up,” Cole said. “I always say becoming how you see yourself in your head or visually representing that gives you a boost of confidence.”

Cole works at Anna Banana’s, going through items people bring and pricing them. Cole describes university students as creative and willing to experiment with clothing, and because of this, always up to date on fashion trends.

“First of all, I think we’re ahead of the game in terms of everything, like trendy fashion now,” Cole said.

Junior apparel design and merchandising major Katie Bridges credits this trendiness to the university’s population from diverse backgrounds, referring to the fashion as a “snowball effect” where students come to the university with their own distinct styles and build off one another to create a completely new aesthetic. 

“Entering college, I saw so many styles that I’ve never seen that I really liked, and now that I include that into my fashion,” Bridges said. 

Bridges partly owes App State’s creative style to thrifted and vintage clothing.

“I think people have really utilized the shops like Anna Banana’s and Goodwill to find unique pieces, and it’s very evident,” Bridges said. “Even walking on campus, you can see how people’s styles are just so different.”

Junior apparel design major Claire Brantley agrees thrifting and buying vintage allows students to express their individual styles and distinguish themselves from their peers.

“I think that especially at App State people just really enjoy being unique,” Brantley said. 

Brantley said when someone buys clothes from a store like American Eagle, people can easily recognize where they came from as opposed to the individualized items found at thrift stores.

“If you go find a cool vintage pair of jeans from a thrift store, nobody’s going to know where you got them,” Brantley said.

Brantley recently switched her major from nursing to apparel design because she said she has always had an interest in fashion and didn’t feel nursing allowed her to express her creativity.

Apparel design major Claire Brantley using a sewing machine in the design studio.
(Darcy Sluder)

Brantley hopes to design lingerie while promoting body positivity, inclusivity and sustainability. 

“That’s a big part of what I want to do in my designs and stuff is be more inclusive with whatever brand I work with,” Brantley said. “But I’m also interested in being sustainable and not producing more clothes, just like learning how to reuse all of the materials that we already have.”

Brantley isn’t alone in her desire for sustainable clothing. University students have set up pop-up shops on King Street, selling thrifted and upcycled clothes, and some have even created their own businesses.

Thrifted clothing has also grown as a trend on social media, with numerous viral TikToks of thrift store and vintage clothing hauls.

With such vast popularity in thrifted and vintage clothes, it’s no wonder small businesses from around the country come together for the Boone Vintage Market. On Oct. 22, Appalachian Mountain Brewery hosted their third market, with over 45 vendors present to sell their unique vintage clothing. 

A market attendee, freshman sustainable development and religious studies major Angela Kirchoff said another appeal of buying vintage for students, and something setting our students apart from other colleges, is the freedom for the LBGTQ+ population to express themselves with their fashion.

Vendors and shoppers gather at Appalachian Mountain Brewery to buy and sell clothes at the vintage market Oct. 22, 2022.
(Hiatt Ellis)

“It’s just the freedom, I think,” Kirchoff said. “I will say a lot of queer people go here, and a lot of queer culture is centered around fashion.”

Another attendee, junior apparel design and merchandising major André Edwards said the appeal has to do with affordability. 

“I hate buying things brand new,” Edwards said. “If I see something and it’s cheap, why not get it? Instead of paying, like, $75 at Urban Outfitters.” 

Edwards recycles fabrics and repurposes them into his own designs for his fashion brand, “Andre Archive.”

One of the vendors, Jackson Underwood, runs the fashion company, Despise Gossip, with his brother, Timothy Underwood. He said they named the company after the parts of the fast fashion industry they despise. 

“It also promotes sustainability and is green friendly,” Underwood said. “We really despise fast fashion, the Sheins and stuff like that.”

Underwood described what they sell as “true vintage” with clothes from the ‘60s through ‘80s.

He said it’s important for them to keep their prices low to give people access to timeless styles.

“It goes into our philosophy of clothes are meant to be worn, not stored somewhere, and so we try to keep prices as low as possible to make the barrier of entry low,” Underwood said.

Another vendor, Tyler Troyler, said he began collecting vintage clothing around four years ago, and when his closet started overflowing and he decided to sell some items, he realized there was a large market for people who wanted sustainable, vintage clothing. Troyler made a Depop account and created a brand to start selling from his large collection.

Nick Pianovich, of Alley-Oop Culture Exchange, poses in front of his merchandise at the vintage market at Appalachian Mountain Brewery on Oct. 22, 2022.
(Hiatt Ellis)

Troyler said his clothes appeal to a younger demographic.

“I think my biggest demographic is going to be college students,” Troyler said. “I even had some high school students getting into it, but I just think it’s a generational thing. It’s becoming more popular.”

Troyler also feels the sustainability of buying vintage plays into college students’ interest.

“I definitely think that the younger generation just has gravitated towards it for sustainability,” Troyler said. “You know, saving the planet, not using up resources to make clothing, but recognizing that there’s plenty of clothing out there.”

Whether the appeal is individuality, affordability or sustainability, most seem to agree that thrifting and vintage clothing provide a way for young people to express their identities through their unique style.

“Most people who buy stuff are college students, looking to kind of, like, find themselves and their identity,” Underwood said. 

There will be another Boone Vintage Market Dec. 4 at Watauga Recreation Center.