Young Hillcrest style is funky and edgyEntertainment Feature Thursday, July 5th, 2012
I’m about to make one of the biggest understatements I’ve made in a long time; I love writing about fashion, and as a photographer I love shooting hot new styles even more. However, these “hot new styles” typically come at ridiculously high marked-up prices. They also come with some uncaring faux bohemian in the store trying to tell you why the clothes are so hip. It’s like an alternate hipster version of that famous scene with Julia Roberts in the movie Pretty Woman, when she’s shopping at a high-end boutique and is bullied by the salespeople.
For those of you that hate that type of thing, and need more space and freedom when shopping, I have a solution that will please not only you, but also those fashion gurus that don’t mind being a bit adventurous. The solution: Buffalo Exchange and Flashbacks, two very different styles of second-hand stores in Hillcrest that cater to the free-spirited in fashion.
Both stores buy and sell second-hand clothing; each store also has a different edge in the fashion world. Buffalo Exchange has a little of everything in relation to current styles and trends. However, Flashbacks tends to focus more on crazy unique styles from the past.
Hillcrest, is one of those areas in San Diego that inspire people of creativity to be at their most bold. It is there that you will not only see new fashion trends by people walking on University Avenue, but also see the trends on a rack before they even hit the streets. Just walk through the doors of the Buffalo Exchange, and you will encounter something similar to a luggage screening at Lindbergh Field. Customers, with suitcases full of clothes, pack the store in Hillcrest eager to sell their unwanted clothing. “We buy all styles of clothing and try to accommodate all shapes and sizes,” Kristen Vehrs, manager of Buffalo Exchange explained. “We offer cash for clothes as well as credit for in-store purchases.” It is clear that those waiting in line were mostly looking for store credit, so they could get some new styles in their closets. That alone is testament to the unique vision of this long beloved store.
Walk around the shop, and pick through the racks of carefully organized clothing, and you would have to take a second or two to confirm that you were actually in a second-hand store. Sneakers, with clean white soles and shirts that don’t look a single day old are just a few of the many things you will find here. “I love shopping here because the quality is amazing for clothes that are used,” Michelle Nguyen said as her girlfriend picked through a rack of vintage-looking shirts, trying to discover her next crazy outfit.
Those who have never been here before, would be amazed at the deals to be found. For example, your every day pair of Levi jeans that are selling for $9.50 at Buffalo Exchange, easily sell for $50 in a department store. If you think that’s value, they also had BCBG sandals for only $19.50, and they did not have a speck of dirt on them.
Buffalo Exchange is truly one of those places in which you will see the same brands you would see in a high-priced department store, for a fraction of the cost. “I used to just dream about having the money to look like I was on the cover of a magazine; I never imagined any thrift store carrying these brands,” Michelle Nguyen commented while she showed me a designer T-shirt, which was selling for just under $10.
“We get a wide range of people that come here,” Andrew Ryan said. “Many even come on their lunch breaks looking for some deals.” It was clear that the store’s clientele ranged from teenage hipsters to local nurses or doctors.
Impressed by the prices and quality at Buffalo Exchange, I headed across the street to see what Flashbacks was all about. I’ve seen these guys on TV, while the Real World San Diego was filming, and I couldn’t wait to check out what they had to offer. I grabbed my model, Brittany Saenz, to see what madness was in store for us, as we embarked on the creation of another hot trendy look.
When in Flashbacks, you will feel as if you were in an episode of That ’70s Show, and that Jackie and Kelso are going to pop out at anytime. Eclectic, retro and funky are just a few words that come to mind when considering the multitude of fashion choices which are contained in this store. “Flashbacks is very unique; there is a lot of funk and edge to the clothes here,” Ariana Marie, a local fashion stylist, said as she held on to an arm full of clothing. With the help of my newly befriended fashion stylist, as well as Jessica Estevez, who is the manager of Flashbacks, we began to dig through bright unique-style colored shirts, jackets, pants, body suits, etc to see what we would find.
Now, though there are some big name brands in Flashbacks, this is truly a store where you can forget about “who you’re wearing” and start focusing instead on “what you’re wearing.” The combinations and possibilities of mixing and matching in this store are endless and truly mind-boggling. Whether you’re shopping for a hot new look to go to the club in, or just want to be a bit more adventurous with your style, Flashbacks has you covered from head to toe.
Francisco Medavog, owner and well-established designer of Medavog Couture Studio, whose vintage designer couture collection has spanned more than 20 years, has also acquired pieces at second-hand clothing stores such as these two. Many of his works have been exhibited at Saks and other high-end venues. “I love the idea to reconstruct old fun pieces and making them modern,” says Medavog, “I love it when I find old fitted-blazers by famous Parisian designers and add embroideries and make them rock n’ roll!” Medavog, and others that I’ve spoken to in the clothing industry, all agree that women, now more than ever, are looking “unique” and more “fashion forward thinking” than ever.
There’s an art to shopping second-hand; you can’t be afraid to mix and match different styles to create a one-of-a-kind outfit. Be a bit daring on your next shopping adventure, and check out the Buffalo Exchange and Flashbacks, both located on the 3800 block of Fifth and University. Second-hand clothing can be glamorous and fun, but it may just take some creativity and a bit of imagination to get the best out of what you got. Francisco Medavog’s Medavog Couture Studio can also be visited at 4015 Park Blvd., suite 209.
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