Tony "Breezy" Brown runs his fingers over the sleeve of a denim jacket, lingering where the fabric has been sunwashed.
"This is what gets me out of bed in the morning," he says. "This is beautiful to me."
Brown explains that this jacket, now for sale in his basement booth inside Boulevard Mercantile, was probably worn by someone who rode horses. He can tell by the places where the denim has been washed out; by sections that are more dirt-stained than others, by the lines that have yet to fade in the sleeves, showing they were often worn rolled up, with the elbows at a 90-degree angle.
Pieces like this, those with a storied past, are what get Brown excited.
Brown is a Spokane-based vintage clothing curator who specializes in denim, although workwear from the 1940s and '50s is his true love. He sells these worn wares under his brand Vagabond Soundtrack at Boulevard and at JUNK in midtown Coeur d'Alene.
"I like rugged, distressed clothing, which a lot of people don't even touch," he says. "For me, the more distressed, the more worn out, the better story it tells."
Denim jackets of all washes with varying degrees of distress, some lined with Sherpa, others with patches, line a whole side of his booth, while "grandma" sweatshirts line another. Overalls have their own section, and a glass case filled with silver and turquoise jewelry sits in the middle.
Cutoff denim shorts, one of his more popular items, are hung, folded and stacked in multiple places, sorted by waist measurement.
"It's American, it's classic, and it's timeless," Brown says of the denim he works with. "It looks good on everyone, it's stylish."
Brown has always been a fan of things past. After closing his former Spokane record shop, he turned to what he does best: shopping. He hits thrift stores and garage sales to find his pieces, along with having connections with pickers. Brown delivers to his spaces at least three times a week, a testament to his dedication to finding new inventory.
"I think of all the people in Spokane I'm the most aggressive picker," he says.
Brown has been "hardcore" curating and selling vintage for about six years. In this time, he's seen a rise in the popularity of vintage clothing, with more shops opening, and a wider variety of shoppers walking through the doors of the shops.
While he sees dressing vintage as a trend, he also thinks the popularity of it is here to stay.
"In this style, [the pieces are] one-offs," he says. "They're wearing something that they're not going to run into someone else wearing at a party. It's unique; it can be artful and artistic. It's an expression."
In addition to the uniqueness of his pieces, Brown says the fact that each has a past contributes to the popularity of vintage.
"When you go to a store and get a pair of distressed jeans, they're distressed in a factory," he says. "My distress is because someone worked in it, or wore it forever, or just loved it until it's threadbare. And I think there's a lot of people who don't want their clothes to look new, I'm one of them. I want my clothes to tell a story." ♦
Shop Vagabond Soundtrack at Boulevard Mercantile, 1905 N. Monroe; JUNK / Midtown Market, 811 N. Fourth St., Coeur d'Alene