Mothfood Vintage

Photography: Timothy Mahoney

Interview: Camille Bavera

Although it’s known on the LA scene as ‘Mothfood,’ the vintage menswear store curated by Tommy Dorr is nothing like the scene of moth-eaten fabric we conjure up in our minds. Instead it’s nothing short of a vintage menswear Mecca. What started as a business out of his trunk became a warehouse-esque establishment in Detroit (where Dorr is originally from) and has evolved over the course of twenty years to become a highly sought after, appointment-only showroom in Los Angeles known for well-tailored men’s trousers, tees and unique workwear dating back to the 1940’s.

Dorr lives in the best of both worlds; having retained his flagship location in Michigan in addition to opening a second, more niche showroom out west in (LA) 2013. Not only does this mean selling to two different sets of clientele (all of which he says are similarly-minded) but is inspired by a wide variety of consumers, too. There’s nothing better than having to dig through piles of old coveralls and race car t-shirts, but as Dorr points out, he gets a big thrill helping production teams build characters for movies and television through clothing, working as consultant as well as curator.

Ultimately for Dorr, it’s all about bringing the clothing to the consumer, and not vice versa. If you want to get away from the fastest fashion and into a world of fine things that predate an oversaturated market of new clothing, then this isn’t a bad place to get some great men’s cords or khakis. You haven’t lived until you’ve walked a mile in some man’s trousers.


BSC: Is it a busy day? In terms of appointments?

TD: Yeah. We're just starting to book everybody - like the non industry types pretty much throughout the whole week. Monday and Tuesday is mostly industry  stuff, you get a lot of returns from rentals or retro pulls for TV shows and movies. And then design teams, when they're in town, they come for inspiration too.

BSC: What kind of movies and TV clients do you get? Because I know your selection is mostly vintage menswear. Is it more period for pieces, or are they trying to achieve that same aesthetic today?

TD: It's a little bit of both. I mean, it's funny because I feel like there was a lot more period stuff a few years ago, but lately, it's been a lot of 'main character' type stuff. There's just so much in production here, right? So a lot of times we don't even ask, but if it's a big thing, and it's early on in the production, we'll get moodboards to source for specific characters, which is really fun. I actually really enjoy that part.

BSC: Yeah, I really like to see how people are putting vintage much more on the main stage nowadays. I feel like that's come a lot from Tik Tok influencers and Instagram influencers that are making vintage, more fashionable, for lack of a better word.

TD: I mean I've had a store for like, 20 years, in Michigan, too. And I think it's just the overall popularity of intake. I feel like Michigan and the Midwest is a very telltale sign of what's happening in the whole United States and not just on a coastal, more fashionable side of it. It's not just alternative kids either (in Michigan), it's the mainstream mall shoppers. It's so different from what it used to be when I first started, and I think that's what's translating into the main movies and on TV.

BSC: That checks out. I feel like the majority of America is 'Middle America'. It's not just coastline cities. Granted, we have more people in our two cities than anywhere else, but -

TD: Yeah, that's why I can kind of gauge what's going on more with my Michigan store than versus the things I'm sourcing for here in LA.

BSC: Do you still have the other one? It's in Detroit? Right?

TD: Yeah, I moved out here about eight years ago, but that store is still doing well. It's really fun out here to work for my own interest level, but I think as a whole it's more fulfilling to influence young kids who maybe never really had the chance to shop anywhere but the mall. And for them to see, you know, just weird styles that are something different, less cookie-cutter than what you see at the mall.

BSC: Yeah, I agree. Because there's this perception that teenagers today just want to look like what they see in a magazine or to look like everyone else. I went to school for fashion design and there are tons of 'fashion kids' there, you know what I mean? That aesthetic. So it's nice to see that style actually getting out of an art school setting or a big city setting and into the Midwest.

TD:  I just feel like kids have way more individual style than they used to as a whole because of the internet or like social media or whatever. Kids are way cooler than they were when I was their age.

“What is the point of creating more stuff if it's not serving a useful purpose?”

BSC: Maybe part of it is because kids today can look at something vintage, maybe their mom's, but cut it up or wear it totally different and suddenly it's no longer just what was square or regular back then. It's taking that and elevating it. That's definitely a social media thing, I think.

TD: I was gonna say, being here in LA,there's so much already flooding the industry, and I don't know, what is the point of creating more stuff if it's not serving a useful purpose?

BSC: It's just so true. Heathermary and I were talking about the new Fendi Baguette campaign for the 25th anniversary. And how I watched Linda Evangelista close the show and then now she's doing the campaign for the bag redesign. The images have this totally glazed over plasticated look that doesn't speak to the times whatsoever, and doesn't recognize anything happening in our society. We looked at each other and we said, what is that team even doing? Brownstone, uses vintage fashion as a platform for foraying into politics and important foreign issues without sacrificing our aesthetic in either fashion or politics. You take fashion with you, but you're not just focusing on that and totally glazing over the rest of the world that is so much more important.

TD: Yeah. I mean, my favorite clients are by appointment. And you know, I feel good because the Michigan store still gives me this opportunity to really take it slow as far as acquiring a kind of 'like-minded clientele.’ Most of my favorite clients just understand what Mothfood actually is; it's the people who used to buy designer clothing. And, for instance, in the past two or three months, I've sold so many 1940s, ‘50s, and ‘60s men's trousers. They're super nice and obviously way better material that you can get now. And they look like designer pants that you'd go into some store on Melrose and pay $750 for. While that stuff (vintage) is already there, you know? So I feel like this is something that I find really fulfilling in filling that gap for people who are just so over the whole designer cycle.

BSC: You said, people who know what Mothfood is - that's how you define Mothfood: the space where people who are 'over it' and who want quality, but aren't going to go and play the designer game?

TD: Yeah, that's good. Plus it's kind of easy to vet people just because some people don't understand what Mothfood is, you know, a joke, a little tongue in cheek, and it's kind of anti-fashion in a way.

BSC: Kind of like its own oxymoron. Just a little bit.

TD: Probably the favorite people that I've met here in LA are people that are over that whole institution, the runway shows and the high end retail stores - just the whole experience. People who want something a little more real by getting the quality of designer clothing and more well-made clothing that's already been made.

BSC: And how do you feel about these menswear/vintage influencers from, well, Tik Tok specifically, but in general how do you think that they've influenced people when it comes to buying vintage?

TD: I'm not that familiar with Tik Tok. I've been on the edge of getting started, still finding my angle for it.

BSC: No I know, it's a tough market to crack now.

TD: I definitely have noticed for, specifically men... it's surprising, their knowledge of actual vintage at this point. To me, a lot of it has to do with the difference between a nineties sweatshirt and a forties sweatshirt. There's way more people now that are into those details. And when I was in my twenties doing this, there were only a handful of menswear dealers all over the country, but now everybody knows what a reverse weave is, what a single stitch t-shirt is or what a pair of selvedge jeans are. I think the interest level is way higher than it used to be and I think it's probably because there's so much more information online than there used to be.

BSC: And is that across your two stores? You'd say most people that come in with all that information? Or still more in LA than Detroit.

TD: Definitely more here in LA. Detroit, you know, it's not really known for fashion, but even the people that are shopping there know what they're talking about and they're willing to spend just as much as people out here. Yeah. So it's definitely not just a coastal thing, because I get a good view from both having a general old fashioned, giant, Midwest vintage store and a specialized by appointment showroom.

BSC: Those are the best ends of the stick, seeing how it functions on both sides of the industry.

TD: Yeah, it's super interesting to me.

BSC: So when you opened, did you have a target market? I mean, even me personally, you know, women or girls my age are wearing men's clothes all the time. Like, I own five pairs of men's khakis and cords. Versus years ago when it was menswear for men and womenswear for women So were you wanting to specifically source older menswear just because that's your niche, or because you wanted to bring that to a certain population? I love to ask this.

TD: Well in the early 2000s, I was just filling my car with old workwear every day because nobody else was doing it, and I sold a lot to Japanese customers. And then maybe somebody from a design team who was from Michigan would come to my store and I'd show them rare or utilitarian stuff from wartime. In 2014, me and my girlfriend at the time moved here on a whim. She had run a Barneys in Philly for ten years and I had been running my store for maybe twelve. I really had no idea about real designer clothing and she kind of knew nothing about collectible clothing. So when we moved here, we ended up opening up a store that took her strengths from the design world and then helped me to learn more about fashion. Kind of like a really cool crash course in being here and cultivating clientele for just good clothing. Period. Early clothing, designer clothing, antique clothing, and kind of modernizing it. It was for people who don't want to look dated but want to wear something cool.

“To me, a lot of it has to do with the difference between a nineties sweatshirt and a forties sweatshirt. There's way more people now that are into those details.”

Tommy Dorr, Mothfood Vintage

Photography: Timothy Mahoney

Interview: Camille Bavera

Mothfood Vintage

Brownstone Cowboys Magazine A Shirt Tale main image

Photography: Timothy Mahoney

Interview: Camille Bavera

Although it’s known on the LA scene as ‘Mothfood,’ the vintage menswear store curated by Tommy Dorr is nothing like the scene of moth-eaten fabric we conjure up in our minds. Instead it’s nothing short of a vintage menswear Mecca. What started as a business out of his trunk became a warehouse-esque establishment in Detroit (where Dorr is originally from) and has evolved over the course of twenty years to become a highly sought after, appointment-only showroom in Los Angeles known for well-tailored men’s trousers, tees and unique workwear dating back to the 1940’s.

Dorr lives in the best of both worlds; having retained his flagship location in Michigan in addition to opening a second, more niche showroom out west in (LA) 2013. Not only does this mean selling to two different sets of clientele (all of which he says are similarly-minded) but is inspired by a wide variety of consumers, too. There’s nothing better than having to dig through piles of old coveralls and race car t-shirts, but as Dorr points out, he gets a big thrill helping production teams build characters for movies and television through clothing, working as consultant as well as curator.

Ultimately for Dorr, it’s all about bringing the clothing to the consumer, and not vice versa. If you want to get away from the fastest fashion and into a world of fine things that predate an oversaturated market of new clothing, then this isn’t a bad place to get some great men’s cords or khakis. You haven’t lived until you’ve walked a mile in some man’s trousers.

No items found.

Tommy Dorr, Mothfood Vintage

Photography: Timothy Mahoney

Interview: Camille Bavera

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Mothfood Vintage

Mothfood is the new LA menswear diet we're eating up

Photography: Timothy Mahoney

Interview: Camille Bavera

Although it’s known on the LA scene as ‘Mothfood,’ the vintage menswear store curated by Tommy Dorr is nothing like the scene of moth-eaten fabric we conjure up in our minds. Instead it’s nothing short of a vintage menswear Mecca. What started as a business out of his trunk became a warehouse-esque establishment in Detroit (where Dorr is originally from) and has evolved over the course of twenty years to become a highly sought after, appointment-only showroom in Los Angeles known for well-tailored men’s trousers, tees and unique workwear dating back to the 1940’s.

Dorr lives in the best of both worlds; having retained his flagship location in Michigan in addition to opening a second, more niche showroom out west in (LA) 2013. Not only does this mean selling to two different sets of clientele (all of which he says are similarly-minded) but is inspired by a wide variety of consumers, too. There’s nothing better than having to dig through piles of old coveralls and race car t-shirts, but as Dorr points out, he gets a big thrill helping production teams build characters for movies and television through clothing, working as consultant as well as curator.

Ultimately for Dorr, it’s all about bringing the clothing to the consumer, and not vice versa. If you want to get away from the fastest fashion and into a world of fine things that predate an oversaturated market of new clothing, then this isn’t a bad place to get some great men’s cords or khakis. You haven’t lived until you’ve walked a mile in some man’s trousers.


BSC: Is it a busy day? In terms of appointments?

TD: Yeah. We're just starting to book everybody - like the non industry types pretty much throughout the whole week. Monday and Tuesday is mostly industry  stuff, you get a lot of returns from rentals or retro pulls for TV shows and movies. And then design teams, when they're in town, they come for inspiration too.

BSC: What kind of movies and TV clients do you get? Because I know your selection is mostly vintage menswear. Is it more period for pieces, or are they trying to achieve that same aesthetic today?

TD: It's a little bit of both. I mean, it's funny because I feel like there was a lot more period stuff a few years ago, but lately, it's been a lot of 'main character' type stuff. There's just so much in production here, right? So a lot of times we don't even ask, but if it's a big thing, and it's early on in the production, we'll get moodboards to source for specific characters, which is really fun. I actually really enjoy that part.

BSC: Yeah, I really like to see how people are putting vintage much more on the main stage nowadays. I feel like that's come a lot from Tik Tok influencers and Instagram influencers that are making vintage, more fashionable, for lack of a better word.

TD: I mean I've had a store for like, 20 years, in Michigan, too. And I think it's just the overall popularity of intake. I feel like Michigan and the Midwest is a very telltale sign of what's happening in the whole United States and not just on a coastal, more fashionable side of it. It's not just alternative kids either (in Michigan), it's the mainstream mall shoppers. It's so different from what it used to be when I first started, and I think that's what's translating into the main movies and on TV.

BSC: That checks out. I feel like the majority of America is 'Middle America'. It's not just coastline cities. Granted, we have more people in our two cities than anywhere else, but -

TD: Yeah, that's why I can kind of gauge what's going on more with my Michigan store than versus the things I'm sourcing for here in LA.

BSC: Do you still have the other one? It's in Detroit? Right?

TD: Yeah, I moved out here about eight years ago, but that store is still doing well. It's really fun out here to work for my own interest level, but I think as a whole it's more fulfilling to influence young kids who maybe never really had the chance to shop anywhere but the mall. And for them to see, you know, just weird styles that are something different, less cookie-cutter than what you see at the mall.

BSC: Yeah, I agree. Because there's this perception that teenagers today just want to look like what they see in a magazine or to look like everyone else. I went to school for fashion design and there are tons of 'fashion kids' there, you know what I mean? That aesthetic. So it's nice to see that style actually getting out of an art school setting or a big city setting and into the Midwest.

TD:  I just feel like kids have way more individual style than they used to as a whole because of the internet or like social media or whatever. Kids are way cooler than they were when I was their age.

BSC: Maybe part of it is because kids today can look at something vintage, maybe their mom's, but cut it up or wear it totally different and suddenly it's no longer just what was square or regular back then. It's taking that and elevating it. That's definitely a social media thing, I think.

TD: I was gonna say, being here in LA,there's so much already flooding the industry, and I don't know, what is the point of creating more stuff if it's not serving a useful purpose?

BSC: It's just so true. Heathermary and I were talking about the new Fendi Baguette campaign for the 25th anniversary. And how I watched Linda Evangelista close the show and then now she's doing the campaign for the bag redesign. The images have this totally glazed over plasticated look that doesn't speak to the times whatsoever, and doesn't recognize anything happening in our society. We looked at each other and we said, what is that team even doing? Brownstone, uses vintage fashion as a platform for foraying into politics and important foreign issues without sacrificing our aesthetic in either fashion or politics. You take fashion with you, but you're not just focusing on that and totally glazing over the rest of the world that is so much more important.

TD: Yeah. I mean, my favorite clients are by appointment. And you know, I feel good because the Michigan store still gives me this opportunity to really take it slow as far as acquiring a kind of 'like-minded clientele.’ Most of my favorite clients just understand what Mothfood actually is; it's the people who used to buy designer clothing. And, for instance, in the past two or three months, I've sold so many 1940s, ‘50s, and ‘60s men's trousers. They're super nice and obviously way better material that you can get now. And they look like designer pants that you'd go into some store on Melrose and pay $750 for. While that stuff (vintage) is already there, you know? So I feel like this is something that I find really fulfilling in filling that gap for people who are just so over the whole designer cycle.

BSC: You said, people who know what Mothfood is - that's how you define Mothfood: the space where people who are 'over it' and who want quality, but aren't going to go and play the designer game?

TD: Yeah, that's good. Plus it's kind of easy to vet people just because some people don't understand what Mothfood is, you know, a joke, a little tongue in cheek, and it's kind of anti-fashion in a way.

BSC: Kind of like its own oxymoron. Just a little bit.

TD: Probably the favorite people that I've met here in LA are people that are over that whole institution, the runway shows and the high end retail stores - just the whole experience. People who want something a little more real by getting the quality of designer clothing and more well-made clothing that's already been made.

BSC: And how do you feel about these menswear/vintage influencers from, well, Tik Tok specifically, but in general how do you think that they've influenced people when it comes to buying vintage?

TD: I'm not that familiar with Tik Tok. I've been on the edge of getting started, still finding my angle for it.

BSC: No I know, it's a tough market to crack now.

TD: I definitely have noticed for, specifically men... it's surprising, their knowledge of actual vintage at this point. To me, a lot of it has to do with the difference between a nineties sweatshirt and a forties sweatshirt. There's way more people now that are into those details. And when I was in my twenties doing this, there were only a handful of menswear dealers all over the country, but now everybody knows what a reverse weave is, what a single stitch t-shirt is or what a pair of selvedge jeans are. I think the interest level is way higher than it used to be and I think it's probably because there's so much more information online than there used to be.

BSC: And is that across your two stores? You'd say most people that come in with all that information? Or still more in LA than Detroit.

TD: Definitely more here in LA. Detroit, you know, it's not really known for fashion, but even the people that are shopping there know what they're talking about and they're willing to spend just as much as people out here. Yeah. So it's definitely not just a coastal thing, because I get a good view from both having a general old fashioned, giant, Midwest vintage store and a specialized by appointment showroom.

BSC: Those are the best ends of the stick, seeing how it functions on both sides of the industry.

TD: Yeah, it's super interesting to me.

BSC: So when you opened, did you have a target market? I mean, even me personally, you know, women or girls my age are wearing men's clothes all the time. Like, I own five pairs of men's khakis and cords. Versus years ago when it was menswear for men and womenswear for women So were you wanting to specifically source older menswear just because that's your niche, or because you wanted to bring that to a certain population? I love to ask this.

TD: Well in the early 2000s, I was just filling my car with old workwear every day because nobody else was doing it, and I sold a lot to Japanese customers. And then maybe somebody from a design team who was from Michigan would come to my store and I'd show them rare or utilitarian stuff from wartime. In 2014, me and my girlfriend at the time moved here on a whim. She had run a Barneys in Philly for ten years and I had been running my store for maybe twelve. I really had no idea about real designer clothing and she kind of knew nothing about collectible clothing. So when we moved here, we ended up opening up a store that took her strengths from the design world and then helped me to learn more about fashion. Kind of like a really cool crash course in being here and cultivating clientele for just good clothing. Period. Early clothing, designer clothing, antique clothing, and kind of modernizing it. It was for people who don't want to look dated but want to wear something cool.

Tommy Dorr, Mothfood Vintage

Photography: Timothy Mahoney

Interview: Camille Bavera

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Mothfood Vintage

Mothfood is the new LA menswear diet we're eating up

HASSON

Photography: Timothy Mahoney

Interview: Camille Bavera

“What is the point of creating more stuff if it's not serving a useful purpose?”

Although it’s known on the LA scene as ‘Mothfood,’ the vintage menswear store curated by Tommy Dorr is nothing like the scene of moth-eaten fabric we conjure up in our minds. Instead it’s nothing short of a vintage menswear Mecca. What started as a business out of his trunk became a warehouse-esque establishment in Detroit (where Dorr is originally from) and has evolved over the course of twenty years to become a highly sought after, appointment-only showroom in Los Angeles known for well-tailored men’s trousers, tees and unique workwear dating back to the 1940’s.

Dorr lives in the best of both worlds; having retained his flagship location in Michigan in addition to opening a second, more niche showroom out west in (LA) 2013. Not only does this mean selling to two different sets of clientele (all of which he says are similarly-minded) but is inspired by a wide variety of consumers, too. There’s nothing better than having to dig through piles of old coveralls and race car t-shirts, but as Dorr points out, he gets a big thrill helping production teams build characters for movies and television through clothing, working as consultant as well as curator.

Ultimately for Dorr, it’s all about bringing the clothing to the consumer, and not vice versa. If you want to get away from the fastest fashion and into a world of fine things that predate an oversaturated market of new clothing, then this isn’t a bad place to get some great men’s cords or khakis. You haven’t lived until you’ve walked a mile in some man’s trousers.

No items found.

Tommy Dorr, Mothfood Vintage

Photography: Timothy Mahoney

Interview: Camille Bavera

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Mothfood Vintage

Photography: Timothy Mahoney

Interview: Camille Bavera

No items found.

Although it’s known on the LA scene as ‘Mothfood,’ the vintage menswear store curated by Tommy Dorr is nothing like the scene of moth-eaten fabric we conjure up in our minds. Instead it’s nothing short of a vintage menswear Mecca. What started as a business out of his trunk became a warehouse-esque establishment in Detroit (where Dorr is originally from) and has evolved over the course of twenty years to become a highly sought after, appointment-only showroom in Los Angeles known for well-tailored men’s trousers, tees and unique workwear dating back to the 1940’s.

Dorr lives in the best of both worlds; having retained his flagship location in Michigan in addition to opening a second, more niche showroom out west in (LA) 2013. Not only does this mean selling to two different sets of clientele (all of which he says are similarly-minded) but is inspired by a wide variety of consumers, too. There’s nothing better than having to dig through piles of old coveralls and race car t-shirts, but as Dorr points out, he gets a big thrill helping production teams build characters for movies and television through clothing, working as consultant as well as curator.

Ultimately for Dorr, it’s all about bringing the clothing to the consumer, and not vice versa. If you want to get away from the fastest fashion and into a world of fine things that predate an oversaturated market of new clothing, then this isn’t a bad place to get some great men’s cords or khakis. You haven’t lived until you’ve walked a mile in some man’s trousers.

Tommy Dorr, Mothfood Vintage

Photography: Timothy Mahoney

Interview: Camille Bavera

Mothfood Vintage

Mothfood is the new LA menswear diet we're eating up

Photography: Timothy Mahoney

Interview: Camille Bavera

Although it’s known on the LA scene as ‘Mothfood,’ the vintage menswear store curated by Tommy Dorr is nothing like the scene of moth-eaten fabric we conjure up in our minds. Instead it’s nothing short of a vintage menswear Mecca. What started as a business out of his trunk became a warehouse-esque establishment in Detroit (where Dorr is originally from) and has evolved over the course of twenty years to become a highly sought after, appointment-only showroom in Los Angeles known for well-tailored men’s trousers, tees and unique workwear dating back to the 1940’s.

Dorr lives in the best of both worlds; having retained his flagship location in Michigan in addition to opening a second, more niche showroom out west in (LA) 2013. Not only does this mean selling to two different sets of clientele (all of which he says are similarly-minded) but is inspired by a wide variety of consumers, too. There’s nothing better than having to dig through piles of old coveralls and race car t-shirts, but as Dorr points out, he gets a big thrill helping production teams build characters for movies and television through clothing, working as consultant as well as curator.

Ultimately for Dorr, it’s all about bringing the clothing to the consumer, and not vice versa. If you want to get away from the fastest fashion and into a world of fine things that predate an oversaturated market of new clothing, then this isn’t a bad place to get some great men’s cords or khakis. You haven’t lived until you’ve walked a mile in some man’s trousers.


BSC: Is it a busy day? In terms of appointments?

TD: Yeah. We're just starting to book everybody - like the non industry types pretty much throughout the whole week. Monday and Tuesday is mostly industry  stuff, you get a lot of returns from rentals or retro pulls for TV shows and movies. And then design teams, when they're in town, they come for inspiration too.

BSC: What kind of movies and TV clients do you get? Because I know your selection is mostly vintage menswear. Is it more period for pieces, or are they trying to achieve that same aesthetic today?

TD: It's a little bit of both. I mean, it's funny because I feel like there was a lot more period stuff a few years ago, but lately, it's been a lot of 'main character' type stuff. There's just so much in production here, right? So a lot of times we don't even ask, but if it's a big thing, and it's early on in the production, we'll get moodboards to source for specific characters, which is really fun. I actually really enjoy that part.

BSC: Yeah, I really like to see how people are putting vintage much more on the main stage nowadays. I feel like that's come a lot from Tik Tok influencers and Instagram influencers that are making vintage, more fashionable, for lack of a better word.

TD: I mean I've had a store for like, 20 years, in Michigan, too. And I think it's just the overall popularity of intake. I feel like Michigan and the Midwest is a very telltale sign of what's happening in the whole United States and not just on a coastal, more fashionable side of it. It's not just alternative kids either (in Michigan), it's the mainstream mall shoppers. It's so different from what it used to be when I first started, and I think that's what's translating into the main movies and on TV.

BSC: That checks out. I feel like the majority of America is 'Middle America'. It's not just coastline cities. Granted, we have more people in our two cities than anywhere else, but -

TD: Yeah, that's why I can kind of gauge what's going on more with my Michigan store than versus the things I'm sourcing for here in LA.

BSC: Do you still have the other one? It's in Detroit? Right?

TD: Yeah, I moved out here about eight years ago, but that store is still doing well. It's really fun out here to work for my own interest level, but I think as a whole it's more fulfilling to influence young kids who maybe never really had the chance to shop anywhere but the mall. And for them to see, you know, just weird styles that are something different, less cookie-cutter than what you see at the mall.

BSC: Yeah, I agree. Because there's this perception that teenagers today just want to look like what they see in a magazine or to look like everyone else. I went to school for fashion design and there are tons of 'fashion kids' there, you know what I mean? That aesthetic. So it's nice to see that style actually getting out of an art school setting or a big city setting and into the Midwest.

TD:  I just feel like kids have way more individual style than they used to as a whole because of the internet or like social media or whatever. Kids are way cooler than they were when I was their age.

BSC: Maybe part of it is because kids today can look at something vintage, maybe their mom's, but cut it up or wear it totally different and suddenly it's no longer just what was square or regular back then. It's taking that and elevating it. That's definitely a social media thing, I think.

TD: I was gonna say, being here in LA,there's so much already flooding the industry, and I don't know, what is the point of creating more stuff if it's not serving a useful purpose?

BSC: It's just so true. Heathermary and I were talking about the new Fendi Baguette campaign for the 25th anniversary. And how I watched Linda Evangelista close the show and then now she's doing the campaign for the bag redesign. The images have this totally glazed over plasticated look that doesn't speak to the times whatsoever, and doesn't recognize anything happening in our society. We looked at each other and we said, what is that team even doing? Brownstone, uses vintage fashion as a platform for foraying into politics and important foreign issues without sacrificing our aesthetic in either fashion or politics. You take fashion with you, but you're not just focusing on that and totally glazing over the rest of the world that is so much more important.

TD: Yeah. I mean, my favorite clients are by appointment. And you know, I feel good because the Michigan store still gives me this opportunity to really take it slow as far as acquiring a kind of 'like-minded clientele.’ Most of my favorite clients just understand what Mothfood actually is; it's the people who used to buy designer clothing. And, for instance, in the past two or three months, I've sold so many 1940s, ‘50s, and ‘60s men's trousers. They're super nice and obviously way better material that you can get now. And they look like designer pants that you'd go into some store on Melrose and pay $750 for. While that stuff (vintage) is already there, you know? So I feel like this is something that I find really fulfilling in filling that gap for people who are just so over the whole designer cycle.

BSC: You said, people who know what Mothfood is - that's how you define Mothfood: the space where people who are 'over it' and who want quality, but aren't going to go and play the designer game?

TD: Yeah, that's good. Plus it's kind of easy to vet people just because some people don't understand what Mothfood is, you know, a joke, a little tongue in cheek, and it's kind of anti-fashion in a way.

BSC: Kind of like its own oxymoron. Just a little bit.

TD: Probably the favorite people that I've met here in LA are people that are over that whole institution, the runway shows and the high end retail stores - just the whole experience. People who want something a little more real by getting the quality of designer clothing and more well-made clothing that's already been made.

BSC: And how do you feel about these menswear/vintage influencers from, well, Tik Tok specifically, but in general how do you think that they've influenced people when it comes to buying vintage?

TD: I'm not that familiar with Tik Tok. I've been on the edge of getting started, still finding my angle for it.

BSC: No I know, it's a tough market to crack now.

TD: I definitely have noticed for, specifically men... it's surprising, their knowledge of actual vintage at this point. To me, a lot of it has to do with the difference between a nineties sweatshirt and a forties sweatshirt. There's way more people now that are into those details. And when I was in my twenties doing this, there were only a handful of menswear dealers all over the country, but now everybody knows what a reverse weave is, what a single stitch t-shirt is or what a pair of selvedge jeans are. I think the interest level is way higher than it used to be and I think it's probably because there's so much more information online than there used to be.

BSC: And is that across your two stores? You'd say most people that come in with all that information? Or still more in LA than Detroit.

TD: Definitely more here in LA. Detroit, you know, it's not really known for fashion, but even the people that are shopping there know what they're talking about and they're willing to spend just as much as people out here. Yeah. So it's definitely not just a coastal thing, because I get a good view from both having a general old fashioned, giant, Midwest vintage store and a specialized by appointment showroom.

BSC: Those are the best ends of the stick, seeing how it functions on both sides of the industry.

TD: Yeah, it's super interesting to me.

BSC: So when you opened, did you have a target market? I mean, even me personally, you know, women or girls my age are wearing men's clothes all the time. Like, I own five pairs of men's khakis and cords. Versus years ago when it was menswear for men and womenswear for women So were you wanting to specifically source older menswear just because that's your niche, or because you wanted to bring that to a certain population? I love to ask this.

TD: Well in the early 2000s, I was just filling my car with old workwear every day because nobody else was doing it, and I sold a lot to Japanese customers. And then maybe somebody from a design team who was from Michigan would come to my store and I'd show them rare or utilitarian stuff from wartime. In 2014, me and my girlfriend at the time moved here on a whim. She had run a Barneys in Philly for ten years and I had been running my store for maybe twelve. I really had no idea about real designer clothing and she kind of knew nothing about collectible clothing. So when we moved here, we ended up opening up a store that took her strengths from the design world and then helped me to learn more about fashion. Kind of like a really cool crash course in being here and cultivating clientele for just good clothing. Period. Early clothing, designer clothing, antique clothing, and kind of modernizing it. It was for people who don't want to look dated but want to wear something cool.

Tommy Dorr, Mothfood Vintage

Photography: Timothy Mahoney

Interview: Camille Bavera

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Pink

frost

Thistle

brown

Photography: Timothy Mahoney

Interview: Camille Bavera

Super talented stylist-turned-photographer Thistle Browne and stylist Heathermary Jackson — both in New Zealand during COVID-19 lockdowns — traveled to Rangitoto Island, a dormant volcano off the coast of Central Auckland, to shoot the new campaign for New Zealand jewelry designer Jasmin Sparrow. The shoot showcases Sparrow’s timeless gold and silver jewelry, and a beautiful collection of hand-beaded bras and skull caps designed with Glen Prentice. Models wore mainly vintage from Search and Destroy and Brownstone Cowboys’ collection, combined with some local, sustainable brands and New Zealand gumboots (rainboots).

Mothfood Vintage

Photography: Timothy Mahoney

Interview: Camille Bavera

Although it’s known on the LA scene as ‘Mothfood,’ the vintage menswear store curated by Tommy Dorr is nothing like the scene of moth-eaten fabric we conjure up in our minds. Instead it’s nothing short of a vintage menswear Mecca. What started as a business out of his trunk became a warehouse-esque establishment in Detroit (where Dorr is originally from) and has evolved over the course of twenty years to become a highly sought after, appointment-only showroom in Los Angeles known for well-tailored men’s trousers, tees and unique workwear dating back to the 1940’s.

Dorr lives in the best of both worlds; having retained his flagship location in Michigan in addition to opening a second, more niche showroom out west in (LA) 2013. Not only does this mean selling to two different sets of clientele (all of which he says are similarly-minded) but is inspired by a wide variety of consumers, too. There’s nothing better than having to dig through piles of old coveralls and race car t-shirts, but as Dorr points out, he gets a big thrill helping production teams build characters for movies and television through clothing, working as consultant as well as curator.

Ultimately for Dorr, it’s all about bringing the clothing to the consumer, and not vice versa. If you want to get away from the fastest fashion and into a world of fine things that predate an oversaturated market of new clothing, then this isn’t a bad place to get some great men’s cords or khakis. You haven’t lived until you’ve walked a mile in some man’s trousers.


BSC: Is it a busy day? In terms of appointments?

TD: Yeah. We're just starting to book everybody - like the non industry types pretty much throughout the whole week. Monday and Tuesday is mostly industry  stuff, you get a lot of returns from rentals or retro pulls for TV shows and movies. And then design teams, when they're in town, they come for inspiration too.

BSC: What kind of movies and TV clients do you get? Because I know your selection is mostly vintage menswear. Is it more period for pieces, or are they trying to achieve that same aesthetic today?

TD: It's a little bit of both. I mean, it's funny because I feel like there was a lot more period stuff a few years ago, but lately, it's been a lot of 'main character' type stuff. There's just so much in production here, right? So a lot of times we don't even ask, but if it's a big thing, and it's early on in the production, we'll get moodboards to source for specific characters, which is really fun. I actually really enjoy that part.

BSC: Yeah, I really like to see how people are putting vintage much more on the main stage nowadays. I feel like that's come a lot from Tik Tok influencers and Instagram influencers that are making vintage, more fashionable, for lack of a better word.

TD: I mean I've had a store for like, 20 years, in Michigan, too. And I think it's just the overall popularity of intake. I feel like Michigan and the Midwest is a very telltale sign of what's happening in the whole United States and not just on a coastal, more fashionable side of it. It's not just alternative kids either (in Michigan), it's the mainstream mall shoppers. It's so different from what it used to be when I first started, and I think that's what's translating into the main movies and on TV.

BSC: That checks out. I feel like the majority of America is 'Middle America'. It's not just coastline cities. Granted, we have more people in our two cities than anywhere else, but -

TD: Yeah, that's why I can kind of gauge what's going on more with my Michigan store than versus the things I'm sourcing for here in LA.

BSC: Do you still have the other one? It's in Detroit? Right?

TD: Yeah, I moved out here about eight years ago, but that store is still doing well. It's really fun out here to work for my own interest level, but I think as a whole it's more fulfilling to influence young kids who maybe never really had the chance to shop anywhere but the mall. And for them to see, you know, just weird styles that are something different, less cookie-cutter than what you see at the mall.

BSC: Yeah, I agree. Because there's this perception that teenagers today just want to look like what they see in a magazine or to look like everyone else. I went to school for fashion design and there are tons of 'fashion kids' there, you know what I mean? That aesthetic. So it's nice to see that style actually getting out of an art school setting or a big city setting and into the Midwest.

TD:  I just feel like kids have way more individual style than they used to as a whole because of the internet or like social media or whatever. Kids are way cooler than they were when I was their age.

“What is the point of creating more stuff if it's not serving a useful purpose?”

BSC: Maybe part of it is because kids today can look at something vintage, maybe their mom's, but cut it up or wear it totally different and suddenly it's no longer just what was square or regular back then. It's taking that and elevating it. That's definitely a social media thing, I think.

TD: I was gonna say, being here in LA,there's so much already flooding the industry, and I don't know, what is the point of creating more stuff if it's not serving a useful purpose?

BSC: It's just so true. Heathermary and I were talking about the new Fendi Baguette campaign for the 25th anniversary. And how I watched Linda Evangelista close the show and then now she's doing the campaign for the bag redesign. The images have this totally glazed over plasticated look that doesn't speak to the times whatsoever, and doesn't recognize anything happening in our society. We looked at each other and we said, what is that team even doing? Brownstone, uses vintage fashion as a platform for foraying into politics and important foreign issues without sacrificing our aesthetic in either fashion or politics. You take fashion with you, but you're not just focusing on that and totally glazing over the rest of the world that is so much more important.

TD: Yeah. I mean, my favorite clients are by appointment. And you know, I feel good because the Michigan store still gives me this opportunity to really take it slow as far as acquiring a kind of 'like-minded clientele.’ Most of my favorite clients just understand what Mothfood actually is; it's the people who used to buy designer clothing. And, for instance, in the past two or three months, I've sold so many 1940s, ‘50s, and ‘60s men's trousers. They're super nice and obviously way better material that you can get now. And they look like designer pants that you'd go into some store on Melrose and pay $750 for. While that stuff (vintage) is already there, you know? So I feel like this is something that I find really fulfilling in filling that gap for people who are just so over the whole designer cycle.

BSC: You said, people who know what Mothfood is - that's how you define Mothfood: the space where people who are 'over it' and who want quality, but aren't going to go and play the designer game?

TD: Yeah, that's good. Plus it's kind of easy to vet people just because some people don't understand what Mothfood is, you know, a joke, a little tongue in cheek, and it's kind of anti-fashion in a way.

BSC: Kind of like its own oxymoron. Just a little bit.

TD: Probably the favorite people that I've met here in LA are people that are over that whole institution, the runway shows and the high end retail stores - just the whole experience. People who want something a little more real by getting the quality of designer clothing and more well-made clothing that's already been made.

BSC: And how do you feel about these menswear/vintage influencers from, well, Tik Tok specifically, but in general how do you think that they've influenced people when it comes to buying vintage?

TD: I'm not that familiar with Tik Tok. I've been on the edge of getting started, still finding my angle for it.

BSC: No I know, it's a tough market to crack now.

TD: I definitely have noticed for, specifically men... it's surprising, their knowledge of actual vintage at this point. To me, a lot of it has to do with the difference between a nineties sweatshirt and a forties sweatshirt. There's way more people now that are into those details. And when I was in my twenties doing this, there were only a handful of menswear dealers all over the country, but now everybody knows what a reverse weave is, what a single stitch t-shirt is or what a pair of selvedge jeans are. I think the interest level is way higher than it used to be and I think it's probably because there's so much more information online than there used to be.

BSC: And is that across your two stores? You'd say most people that come in with all that information? Or still more in LA than Detroit.

TD: Definitely more here in LA. Detroit, you know, it's not really known for fashion, but even the people that are shopping there know what they're talking about and they're willing to spend just as much as people out here. Yeah. So it's definitely not just a coastal thing, because I get a good view from both having a general old fashioned, giant, Midwest vintage store and a specialized by appointment showroom.

BSC: Those are the best ends of the stick, seeing how it functions on both sides of the industry.

TD: Yeah, it's super interesting to me.

BSC: So when you opened, did you have a target market? I mean, even me personally, you know, women or girls my age are wearing men's clothes all the time. Like, I own five pairs of men's khakis and cords. Versus years ago when it was menswear for men and womenswear for women So were you wanting to specifically source older menswear just because that's your niche, or because you wanted to bring that to a certain population? I love to ask this.

TD: Well in the early 2000s, I was just filling my car with old workwear every day because nobody else was doing it, and I sold a lot to Japanese customers. And then maybe somebody from a design team who was from Michigan would come to my store and I'd show them rare or utilitarian stuff from wartime. In 2014, me and my girlfriend at the time moved here on a whim. She had run a Barneys in Philly for ten years and I had been running my store for maybe twelve. I really had no idea about real designer clothing and she kind of knew nothing about collectible clothing. So when we moved here, we ended up opening up a store that took her strengths from the design world and then helped me to learn more about fashion. Kind of like a really cool crash course in being here and cultivating clientele for just good clothing. Period. Early clothing, designer clothing, antique clothing, and kind of modernizing it. It was for people who don't want to look dated but want to wear something cool.

“To me, a lot of it has to do with the difference between a nineties sweatshirt and a forties sweatshirt. There's way more people now that are into those details.”

BSC: Do you guys rework any of the pieces as well? Or do brand collaborations?

TD: Well, the Michigan store is just like a straight up vintage store; it's lower price point and we carry everything from period clothing to trendy race car T-shirts. But here, I've done original pieces a couple of times. I just don't really invest much time into the idea because I keep going back and forth about making things - I'm just so anti buying anything new at this point.

BSC: I'm sure it's great to look back now, twenty years down the road and see where you are now in LA versus when you were still filling up your trunk.

TD: Oh yeah, I was a psychotic buyer back then

BSC: It's like, 'hey man, I've got something cool to show you in my trunk. Let me give that to you...'

TD: Haha yeah it's a fun trajectory

BSC: Did you ever think about what you're doing in terms of sustainability? Or did you think about it more in terms of aesthetic or even just the durability aspect of workwear?

TD: The durability back then was very much at the forefront of what I liked about older clothing and I think sustainability has always been in the back of my mind. It''s not even a talking point for me at this point, it's a lifestyle. There's no way in hell I'm gonna go to say, J Crew, and buy a pair of pants. But I don't really think about it. For some people though, they're still in the greenwashing state but then you have all of these apparel brands trying to act like they're saving the world by STILL producing bad clothes.

BSC: It's ironic. It's so ironic.

“For some people though, they're still in the greenwashing state but then you have all of these apparel brands trying to act like they're saving the world by STILL producing bad clothes.”

TD: Yeah. But it's all about trying to save face.

BSC: And yet no one is. It's interesting to see actual people come into the industry that are true activists. For instance, do you know of Quannah Chasinghorse? She's an Alaska Native American model, but she seems to be a pioneer in a bigger call for real sustainability now. Plus not endorsing fast fashion anymore and calling for models and creatives to think deeply about brands they're willing to associate with. So hopefully, a top down change is coming more than from the bottom up.

TD: You know, I think especially with the pandemic, I think people just want something more real. My space? It's not flashy but it's also not some minimal art installation. It is what it is, where I can talk to you about each piece of clothing there, but it's not super Instagrammable. And it's funny, because when I first started, I was really self conscious of that. Looking at social media, anybody with a retail store keeps it so polished and clean and nice - and I'm not saying my place wasn't clean, but it's very basic. And it's been surprising to me, some of the clients who come to me who you would think would've never stepped foot in a place like that. I think it shows how much people just want something real. Something authentic.

BSC: You have a good time stamp with the pandemic, and the amount of people wanting to come out of that time period a changed person. And you're definitely not wrong - I feel like probably 50% of consumers at this point, especially Gen Z and younger people can go to a place just to post on their story or tag them on Instagram.

“It's been surprising to me, some of the clients who come to me who you would think would've never stepped foot in a place like that. I think it shows how much people just want something real.”

TD: Yeah. One hundred percent.

BSC: But I'm guilty of that, too, occasionally going somewhere and thinking 'Oh, I know how good this is going to look. But it's about people totally reevaluating their lifestyle now. I mean going out and being seen doesn't mean what it used to.

TD: I see that with shopping in general. I think there's definitely a yearning for there to be places (like mine) that are a destination. I think people really want an experience like that. Everything is so blown out. I mean, what's the world like now? Nobody's excited about anything because everything's been seen, you know? I think there's definitely something in having a private space - I think it's where the future is going; I just don't think social media is going to have the influence it did forever.

BSC: Yeah, I think Tik Tok hit its peak and Instagram hit its peak. And now who knows what with Twitter, but it's definitely not peaking.

TD: I think people want something private, you know?

BSC: Yeah, one on one. Or to feel like they're valued after a time where everyone has felt that we were just getting the short end of the stick, stuck in our houses for years on years. So how does it work for you to translate that feeling onto social media?

TD: Through stuff that I post - very homemade things, you know, little alterations or repairs that make something one of a kind. Rarely is it a designer piece or a rare piece of menswear. It's just all of the stuff in between that really wasn't supposed to be saved or worn out in a cool way. And I feel that's how I use social media to attract people who appreciate that too. There's not many places to shop if you're looking for that kind of stuff here in LA.

BSC: I mean you can go to Filth Mart for the great T-shirts, but then again, that's a totally different clientele than what you have. It's more holy grail and less just good quality, great print tees.

TD: Yeah, it's cool to find a Jimi Hendrix t-shirt from like, 1970, but I really get off more on having someone's name hand-embroidered.

BSC: And if you're not interested in it, then it's not going to translate the way you want it to.

TD: You don't want to appeal to everybody, either. It's really funny but when I do shows, a lot of people will look at the name of my business and say ' that's so disgusting' or 'I can't believe somebody would name their business that' and it makes me so happy because yeah, you're definitely not gonna shop with me or understand what I have. Kind of weeds people out.

Tommy Dorr, Mothfood Vintage

Photography: Timothy Mahoney

Interview: Camille Bavera

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
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Mothfood Vintage

Mothfood is the new LA menswear diet we're eating up

Photography: Timothy Mahoney

Interview: Camille Bavera

Although it’s known on the LA scene as ‘Mothfood,’ the vintage menswear store curated by Tommy Dorr is nothing like the scene of moth-eaten fabric we conjure up in our minds. Instead it’s nothing short of a vintage menswear Mecca. What started as a business out of his trunk became a warehouse-esque establishment in Detroit (where Dorr is originally from) and has evolved over the course of twenty years to become a highly sought after, appointment-only showroom in Los Angeles known for well-tailored men’s trousers, tees and unique workwear dating back to the 1940’s.

Dorr lives in the best of both worlds; having retained his flagship location in Michigan in addition to opening a second, more niche showroom out west in (LA) 2013. Not only does this mean selling to two different sets of clientele (all of which he says are similarly-minded) but is inspired by a wide variety of consumers, too. There’s nothing better than having to dig through piles of old coveralls and race car t-shirts, but as Dorr points out, he gets a big thrill helping production teams build characters for movies and television through clothing, working as consultant as well as curator.

Ultimately for Dorr, it’s all about bringing the clothing to the consumer, and not vice versa. If you want to get away from the fastest fashion and into a world of fine things that predate an oversaturated market of new clothing, then this isn’t a bad place to get some great men’s cords or khakis. You haven’t lived until you’ve walked a mile in some man’s trousers.


BSC: Is it a busy day? In terms of appointments?

TD: Yeah. We're just starting to book everybody - like the non industry types pretty much throughout the whole week. Monday and Tuesday is mostly industry  stuff, you get a lot of returns from rentals or retro pulls for TV shows and movies. And then design teams, when they're in town, they come for inspiration too.

BSC: What kind of movies and TV clients do you get? Because I know your selection is mostly vintage menswear. Is it more period for pieces, or are they trying to achieve that same aesthetic today?

TD: It's a little bit of both. I mean, it's funny because I feel like there was a lot more period stuff a few years ago, but lately, it's been a lot of 'main character' type stuff. There's just so much in production here, right? So a lot of times we don't even ask, but if it's a big thing, and it's early on in the production, we'll get moodboards to source for specific characters, which is really fun. I actually really enjoy that part.

BSC: Yeah, I really like to see how people are putting vintage much more on the main stage nowadays. I feel like that's come a lot from Tik Tok influencers and Instagram influencers that are making vintage, more fashionable, for lack of a better word.

TD: I mean I've had a store for like, 20 years, in Michigan, too. And I think it's just the overall popularity of intake. I feel like Michigan and the Midwest is a very telltale sign of what's happening in the whole United States and not just on a coastal, more fashionable side of it. It's not just alternative kids either (in Michigan), it's the mainstream mall shoppers. It's so different from what it used to be when I first started, and I think that's what's translating into the main movies and on TV.

BSC: That checks out. I feel like the majority of America is 'Middle America'. It's not just coastline cities. Granted, we have more people in our two cities than anywhere else, but -

TD: Yeah, that's why I can kind of gauge what's going on more with my Michigan store than versus the things I'm sourcing for here in LA.

BSC: Do you still have the other one? It's in Detroit? Right?

TD: Yeah, I moved out here about eight years ago, but that store is still doing well. It's really fun out here to work for my own interest level, but I think as a whole it's more fulfilling to influence young kids who maybe never really had the chance to shop anywhere but the mall. And for them to see, you know, just weird styles that are something different, less cookie-cutter than what you see at the mall.

BSC: Yeah, I agree. Because there's this perception that teenagers today just want to look like what they see in a magazine or to look like everyone else. I went to school for fashion design and there are tons of 'fashion kids' there, you know what I mean? That aesthetic. So it's nice to see that style actually getting out of an art school setting or a big city setting and into the Midwest.

TD:  I just feel like kids have way more individual style than they used to as a whole because of the internet or like social media or whatever. Kids are way cooler than they were when I was their age.

BSC: Maybe part of it is because kids today can look at something vintage, maybe their mom's, but cut it up or wear it totally different and suddenly it's no longer just what was square or regular back then. It's taking that and elevating it. That's definitely a social media thing, I think.

TD: I was gonna say, being here in LA,there's so much already flooding the industry, and I don't know, what is the point of creating more stuff if it's not serving a useful purpose?

BSC: It's just so true. Heathermary and I were talking about the new Fendi Baguette campaign for the 25th anniversary. And how I watched Linda Evangelista close the show and then now she's doing the campaign for the bag redesign. The images have this totally glazed over plasticated look that doesn't speak to the times whatsoever, and doesn't recognize anything happening in our society. We looked at each other and we said, what is that team even doing? Brownstone, uses vintage fashion as a platform for foraying into politics and important foreign issues without sacrificing our aesthetic in either fashion or politics. You take fashion with you, but you're not just focusing on that and totally glazing over the rest of the world that is so much more important.

TD: Yeah. I mean, my favorite clients are by appointment. And you know, I feel good because the Michigan store still gives me this opportunity to really take it slow as far as acquiring a kind of 'like-minded clientele.’ Most of my favorite clients just understand what Mothfood actually is; it's the people who used to buy designer clothing. And, for instance, in the past two or three months, I've sold so many 1940s, ‘50s, and ‘60s men's trousers. They're super nice and obviously way better material that you can get now. And they look like designer pants that you'd go into some store on Melrose and pay $750 for. While that stuff (vintage) is already there, you know? So I feel like this is something that I find really fulfilling in filling that gap for people who are just so over the whole designer cycle.

BSC: You said, people who know what Mothfood is - that's how you define Mothfood: the space where people who are 'over it' and who want quality, but aren't going to go and play the designer game?

TD: Yeah, that's good. Plus it's kind of easy to vet people just because some people don't understand what Mothfood is, you know, a joke, a little tongue in cheek, and it's kind of anti-fashion in a way.

BSC: Kind of like its own oxymoron. Just a little bit.

TD: Probably the favorite people that I've met here in LA are people that are over that whole institution, the runway shows and the high end retail stores - just the whole experience. People who want something a little more real by getting the quality of designer clothing and more well-made clothing that's already been made.

BSC: And how do you feel about these menswear/vintage influencers from, well, Tik Tok specifically, but in general how do you think that they've influenced people when it comes to buying vintage?

TD: I'm not that familiar with Tik Tok. I've been on the edge of getting started, still finding my angle for it.

BSC: No I know, it's a tough market to crack now.

TD: I definitely have noticed for, specifically men... it's surprising, their knowledge of actual vintage at this point. To me, a lot of it has to do with the difference between a nineties sweatshirt and a forties sweatshirt. There's way more people now that are into those details. And when I was in my twenties doing this, there were only a handful of menswear dealers all over the country, but now everybody knows what a reverse weave is, what a single stitch t-shirt is or what a pair of selvedge jeans are. I think the interest level is way higher than it used to be and I think it's probably because there's so much more information online than there used to be.

BSC: And is that across your two stores? You'd say most people that come in with all that information? Or still more in LA than Detroit.

TD: Definitely more here in LA. Detroit, you know, it's not really known for fashion, but even the people that are shopping there know what they're talking about and they're willing to spend just as much as people out here. Yeah. So it's definitely not just a coastal thing, because I get a good view from both having a general old fashioned, giant, Midwest vintage store and a specialized by appointment showroom.

BSC: Those are the best ends of the stick, seeing how it functions on both sides of the industry.

TD: Yeah, it's super interesting to me.

BSC: So when you opened, did you have a target market? I mean, even me personally, you know, women or girls my age are wearing men's clothes all the time. Like, I own five pairs of men's khakis and cords. Versus years ago when it was menswear for men and womenswear for women So were you wanting to specifically source older menswear just because that's your niche, or because you wanted to bring that to a certain population? I love to ask this.

TD: Well in the early 2000s, I was just filling my car with old workwear every day because nobody else was doing it, and I sold a lot to Japanese customers. And then maybe somebody from a design team who was from Michigan would come to my store and I'd show them rare or utilitarian stuff from wartime. In 2014, me and my girlfriend at the time moved here on a whim. She had run a Barneys in Philly for ten years and I had been running my store for maybe twelve. I really had no idea about real designer clothing and she kind of knew nothing about collectible clothing. So when we moved here, we ended up opening up a store that took her strengths from the design world and then helped me to learn more about fashion. Kind of like a really cool crash course in being here and cultivating clientele for just good clothing. Period. Early clothing, designer clothing, antique clothing, and kind of modernizing it. It was for people who don't want to look dated but want to wear something cool.

BSC: Do you guys rework any of the pieces as well? Or do brand collaborations?

TD: Well, the Michigan store is just like a straight up vintage store; it's lower price point and we carry everything from period clothing to trendy race car T-shirts. But here, I've done original pieces a couple of times. I just don't really invest much time into the idea because I keep going back and forth about making things - I'm just so anti buying anything new at this point.

BSC: I'm sure it's great to look back now, twenty years down the road and see where you are now in LA versus when you were still filling up your trunk.

TD: Oh yeah, I was a psychotic buyer back then

BSC: It's like, 'hey man, I've got something cool to show you in my trunk. Let me give that to you...'

TD: Haha yeah it's a fun trajectory

BSC: Did you ever think about what you're doing in terms of sustainability? Or did you think about it more in terms of aesthetic or even just the durability aspect of workwear?

TD: The durability back then was very much at the forefront of what I liked about older clothing and I think sustainability has always been in the back of my mind. It''s not even a talking point for me at this point, it's a lifestyle. There's no way in hell I'm gonna go to say, J Crew, and buy a pair of pants. But I don't really think about it. For some people though, they're still in the greenwashing state but then you have all of these apparel brands trying to act like they're saving the world by STILL producing bad clothes.

BSC: It's ironic. It's so ironic.

“For some people though, they're still in the greenwashing state but then you have all of these apparel brands trying to act like they're saving the world by STILL producing bad clothes.”

TD: Yeah. But it's all about trying to save face.

BSC: And yet no one is. It's interesting to see actual people come into the industry that are true activists. For instance, do you know of Quannah Chasinghorse? She's an Alaska Native American model, but she seems to be a pioneer in a bigger call for real sustainability now. Plus not endorsing fast fashion anymore and calling for models and creatives to think deeply about brands they're willing to associate with. So hopefully, a top down change is coming more than from the bottom up.

TD: You know, I think especially with the pandemic, I think people just want something more real. My space? It's not flashy but it's also not some minimal art installation. It is what it is, where I can talk to you about each piece of clothing there, but it's not super Instagrammable. And it's funny, because when I first started, I was really self conscious of that. Looking at social media, anybody with a retail store keeps it so polished and clean and nice - and I'm not saying my place wasn't clean, but it's very basic. And it's been surprising to me, some of the clients who come to me who you would think would've never stepped foot in a place like that. I think it shows how much people just want something real. Something authentic.

BSC: You have a good time stamp with the pandemic, and the amount of people wanting to come out of that time period a changed person. And you're definitely not wrong - I feel like probably 50% of consumers at this point, especially Gen Z and younger people can go to a place just to post on their story or tag them on Instagram.

“It's been surprising to me, some of the clients who come to me who you would think would've never stepped foot in a place like that. I think it shows how much people just want something real.”

TD: Yeah. One hundred percent.

BSC: But I'm guilty of that, too, occasionally going somewhere and thinking 'Oh, I know how good this is going to look. But it's about people totally reevaluating their lifestyle now. I mean going out and being seen doesn't mean what it used to.

TD: I see that with shopping in general. I think there's definitely a yearning for there to be places (like mine) that are a destination. I think people really want an experience like that. Everything is so blown out. I mean, what's the world like now? Nobody's excited about anything because everything's been seen, you know? I think there's definitely something in having a private space - I think it's where the future is going; I just don't think social media is going to have the influence it did forever.

BSC: Yeah, I think Tik Tok hit its peak and Instagram hit its peak. And now who knows what with Twitter, but it's definitely not peaking.

TD: I think people want something private, you know?

BSC: Yeah, one on one. Or to feel like they're valued after a time where everyone has felt that we were just getting the short end of the stick, stuck in our houses for years on years. So how does it work for you to translate that feeling onto social media?

TD: Through stuff that I post - very homemade things, you know, little alterations or repairs that make something one of a kind. Rarely is it a designer piece or a rare piece of menswear. It's just all of the stuff in between that really wasn't supposed to be saved or worn out in a cool way. And I feel that's how I use social media to attract people who appreciate that too. There's not many places to shop if you're looking for that kind of stuff here in LA.

BSC: I mean you can go to Filth Mart for the great T-shirts, but then again, that's a totally different clientele than what you have. It's more holy grail and less just good quality, great print tees.

TD: Yeah, it's cool to find a Jimi Hendrix t-shirt from like, 1970, but I really get off more on having someone's name hand-embroidered.

BSC: And if you're not interested in it, then it's not going to translate the way you want it to.

TD: You don't want to appeal to everybody, either. It's really funny but when I do shows, a lot of people will look at the name of my business and say ' that's so disgusting' or 'I can't believe somebody would name their business that' and it makes me so happy because yeah, you're definitely not gonna shop with me or understand what I have. Kind of weeds people out.

Tommy Dorr, Mothfood Vintage

Photography: Timothy Mahoney

Interview: Camille Bavera

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Mothfood Vintage

Mothfood is the new LA menswear diet we're eating up

Photography: Timothy Mahoney

Interview: Camille Bavera

Although it’s known on the LA scene as ‘Mothfood,’ the vintage menswear store curated by Tommy Dorr is nothing like the scene of moth-eaten fabric we conjure up in our minds. Instead it’s nothing short of a vintage menswear Mecca. What started as a business out of his trunk became a warehouse-esque establishment in Detroit (where Dorr is originally from) and has evolved over the course of twenty years to become a highly sought after, appointment-only showroom in Los Angeles known for well-tailored men’s trousers, tees and unique workwear dating back to the 1940’s.

Dorr lives in the best of both worlds; having retained his flagship location in Michigan in addition to opening a second, more niche showroom out west in (LA) 2013. Not only does this mean selling to two different sets of clientele (all of which he says are similarly-minded) but is inspired by a wide variety of consumers, too. There’s nothing better than having to dig through piles of old coveralls and race car t-shirts, but as Dorr points out, he gets a big thrill helping production teams build characters for movies and television through clothing, working as consultant as well as curator.

Ultimately for Dorr, it’s all about bringing the clothing to the consumer, and not vice versa. If you want to get away from the fastest fashion and into a world of fine things that predate an oversaturated market of new clothing, then this isn’t a bad place to get some great men’s cords or khakis. You haven’t lived until you’ve walked a mile in some man’s trousers.


BSC: Is it a busy day? In terms of appointments?

TD: Yeah. We're just starting to book everybody - like the non industry types pretty much throughout the whole week. Monday and Tuesday is mostly industry  stuff, you get a lot of returns from rentals or retro pulls for TV shows and movies. And then design teams, when they're in town, they come for inspiration too.

BSC: What kind of movies and TV clients do you get? Because I know your selection is mostly vintage menswear. Is it more period for pieces, or are they trying to achieve that same aesthetic today?

TD: It's a little bit of both. I mean, it's funny because I feel like there was a lot more period stuff a few years ago, but lately, it's been a lot of 'main character' type stuff. There's just so much in production here, right? So a lot of times we don't even ask, but if it's a big thing, and it's early on in the production, we'll get moodboards to source for specific characters, which is really fun. I actually really enjoy that part.

BSC: Yeah, I really like to see how people are putting vintage much more on the main stage nowadays. I feel like that's come a lot from Tik Tok influencers and Instagram influencers that are making vintage, more fashionable, for lack of a better word.

TD: I mean I've had a store for like, 20 years, in Michigan, too. And I think it's just the overall popularity of intake. I feel like Michigan and the Midwest is a very telltale sign of what's happening in the whole United States and not just on a coastal, more fashionable side of it. It's not just alternative kids either (in Michigan), it's the mainstream mall shoppers. It's so different from what it used to be when I first started, and I think that's what's translating into the main movies and on TV.

BSC: That checks out. I feel like the majority of America is 'Middle America'. It's not just coastline cities. Granted, we have more people in our two cities than anywhere else, but -

TD: Yeah, that's why I can kind of gauge what's going on more with my Michigan store than versus the things I'm sourcing for here in LA.

BSC: Do you still have the other one? It's in Detroit? Right?

TD: Yeah, I moved out here about eight years ago, but that store is still doing well. It's really fun out here to work for my own interest level, but I think as a whole it's more fulfilling to influence young kids who maybe never really had the chance to shop anywhere but the mall. And for them to see, you know, just weird styles that are something different, less cookie-cutter than what you see at the mall.

BSC: Yeah, I agree. Because there's this perception that teenagers today just want to look like what they see in a magazine or to look like everyone else. I went to school for fashion design and there are tons of 'fashion kids' there, you know what I mean? That aesthetic. So it's nice to see that style actually getting out of an art school setting or a big city setting and into the Midwest.

TD:  I just feel like kids have way more individual style than they used to as a whole because of the internet or like social media or whatever. Kids are way cooler than they were when I was their age.

BSC: Maybe part of it is because kids today can look at something vintage, maybe their mom's, but cut it up or wear it totally different and suddenly it's no longer just what was square or regular back then. It's taking that and elevating it. That's definitely a social media thing, I think.

TD: I was gonna say, being here in LA,there's so much already flooding the industry, and I don't know, what is the point of creating more stuff if it's not serving a useful purpose?

BSC: It's just so true. Heathermary and I were talking about the new Fendi Baguette campaign for the 25th anniversary. And how I watched Linda Evangelista close the show and then now she's doing the campaign for the bag redesign. The images have this totally glazed over plasticated look that doesn't speak to the times whatsoever, and doesn't recognize anything happening in our society. We looked at each other and we said, what is that team even doing? Brownstone, uses vintage fashion as a platform for foraying into politics and important foreign issues without sacrificing our aesthetic in either fashion or politics. You take fashion with you, but you're not just focusing on that and totally glazing over the rest of the world that is so much more important.

TD: Yeah. I mean, my favorite clients are by appointment. And you know, I feel good because the Michigan store still gives me this opportunity to really take it slow as far as acquiring a kind of 'like-minded clientele.’ Most of my favorite clients just understand what Mothfood actually is; it's the people who used to buy designer clothing. And, for instance, in the past two or three months, I've sold so many 1940s, ‘50s, and ‘60s men's trousers. They're super nice and obviously way better material that you can get now. And they look like designer pants that you'd go into some store on Melrose and pay $750 for. While that stuff (vintage) is already there, you know? So I feel like this is something that I find really fulfilling in filling that gap for people who are just so over the whole designer cycle.

BSC: You said, people who know what Mothfood is - that's how you define Mothfood: the space where people who are 'over it' and who want quality, but aren't going to go and play the designer game?

TD: Yeah, that's good. Plus it's kind of easy to vet people just because some people don't understand what Mothfood is, you know, a joke, a little tongue in cheek, and it's kind of anti-fashion in a way.

BSC: Kind of like its own oxymoron. Just a little bit.

TD: Probably the favorite people that I've met here in LA are people that are over that whole institution, the runway shows and the high end retail stores - just the whole experience. People who want something a little more real by getting the quality of designer clothing and more well-made clothing that's already been made.

BSC: And how do you feel about these menswear/vintage influencers from, well, Tik Tok specifically, but in general how do you think that they've influenced people when it comes to buying vintage?

TD: I'm not that familiar with Tik Tok. I've been on the edge of getting started, still finding my angle for it.

BSC: No I know, it's a tough market to crack now.

TD: I definitely have noticed for, specifically men... it's surprising, their knowledge of actual vintage at this point. To me, a lot of it has to do with the difference between a nineties sweatshirt and a forties sweatshirt. There's way more people now that are into those details. And when I was in my twenties doing this, there were only a handful of menswear dealers all over the country, but now everybody knows what a reverse weave is, what a single stitch t-shirt is or what a pair of selvedge jeans are. I think the interest level is way higher than it used to be and I think it's probably because there's so much more information online than there used to be.

BSC: And is that across your two stores? You'd say most people that come in with all that information? Or still more in LA than Detroit.

TD: Definitely more here in LA. Detroit, you know, it's not really known for fashion, but even the people that are shopping there know what they're talking about and they're willing to spend just as much as people out here. Yeah. So it's definitely not just a coastal thing, because I get a good view from both having a general old fashioned, giant, Midwest vintage store and a specialized by appointment showroom.

BSC: Those are the best ends of the stick, seeing how it functions on both sides of the industry.

TD: Yeah, it's super interesting to me.

BSC: So when you opened, did you have a target market? I mean, even me personally, you know, women or girls my age are wearing men's clothes all the time. Like, I own five pairs of men's khakis and cords. Versus years ago when it was menswear for men and womenswear for women So were you wanting to specifically source older menswear just because that's your niche, or because you wanted to bring that to a certain population? I love to ask this.

TD: Well in the early 2000s, I was just filling my car with old workwear every day because nobody else was doing it, and I sold a lot to Japanese customers. And then maybe somebody from a design team who was from Michigan would come to my store and I'd show them rare or utilitarian stuff from wartime. In 2014, me and my girlfriend at the time moved here on a whim. She had run a Barneys in Philly for ten years and I had been running my store for maybe twelve. I really had no idea about real designer clothing and she kind of knew nothing about collectible clothing. So when we moved here, we ended up opening up a store that took her strengths from the design world and then helped me to learn more about fashion. Kind of like a really cool crash course in being here and cultivating clientele for just good clothing. Period. Early clothing, designer clothing, antique clothing, and kind of modernizing it. It was for people who don't want to look dated but want to wear something cool.

Tommy Dorr, Mothfood Vintage

Photography: Timothy Mahoney

Interview: Camille Bavera

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Mothfood Vintage

Brownstone Cowboys Magazine CONSCIOUS GIVING Main Image

Photography: Timothy Mahoney

Interview: Camille Bavera

Although it’s known on the LA scene as ‘Mothfood,’ the vintage menswear store curated by Tommy Dorr is nothing like the scene of moth-eaten fabric we conjure up in our minds. Instead it’s nothing short of a vintage menswear Mecca. What started as a business out of his trunk became a warehouse-esque establishment in Detroit (where Dorr is originally from) and has evolved over the course of twenty years to become a highly sought after, appointment-only showroom in Los Angeles known for well-tailored men’s trousers, tees and unique workwear dating back to the 1940’s.

Dorr lives in the best of both worlds; having retained his flagship location in Michigan in addition to opening a second, more niche showroom out west in (LA) 2013. Not only does this mean selling to two different sets of clientele (all of which he says are similarly-minded) but is inspired by a wide variety of consumers, too. There’s nothing better than having to dig through piles of old coveralls and race car t-shirts, but as Dorr points out, he gets a big thrill helping production teams build characters for movies and television through clothing, working as consultant as well as curator.

Ultimately for Dorr, it’s all about bringing the clothing to the consumer, and not vice versa. If you want to get away from the fastest fashion and into a world of fine things that predate an oversaturated market of new clothing, then this isn’t a bad place to get some great men’s cords or khakis. You haven’t lived until you’ve walked a mile in some man’s trousers.


BSC: Is it a busy day? In terms of appointments?

TD: Yeah. We're just starting to book everybody - like the non industry types pretty much throughout the whole week. Monday and Tuesday is mostly industry  stuff, you get a lot of returns from rentals or retro pulls for TV shows and movies. And then design teams, when they're in town, they come for inspiration too.

BSC: What kind of movies and TV clients do you get? Because I know your selection is mostly vintage menswear. Is it more period for pieces, or are they trying to achieve that same aesthetic today?

TD: It's a little bit of both. I mean, it's funny because I feel like there was a lot more period stuff a few years ago, but lately, it's been a lot of 'main character' type stuff. There's just so much in production here, right? So a lot of times we don't even ask, but if it's a big thing, and it's early on in the production, we'll get moodboards to source for specific characters, which is really fun. I actually really enjoy that part.

BSC: Yeah, I really like to see how people are putting vintage much more on the main stage nowadays. I feel like that's come a lot from Tik Tok influencers and Instagram influencers that are making vintage, more fashionable, for lack of a better word.

TD: I mean I've had a store for like, 20 years, in Michigan, too. And I think it's just the overall popularity of intake. I feel like Michigan and the Midwest is a very telltale sign of what's happening in the whole United States and not just on a coastal, more fashionable side of it. It's not just alternative kids either (in Michigan), it's the mainstream mall shoppers. It's so different from what it used to be when I first started, and I think that's what's translating into the main movies and on TV.

BSC: That checks out. I feel like the majority of America is 'Middle America'. It's not just coastline cities. Granted, we have more people in our two cities than anywhere else, but -

TD: Yeah, that's why I can kind of gauge what's going on more with my Michigan store than versus the things I'm sourcing for here in LA.

BSC: Do you still have the other one? It's in Detroit? Right?

TD: Yeah, I moved out here about eight years ago, but that store is still doing well. It's really fun out here to work for my own interest level, but I think as a whole it's more fulfilling to influence young kids who maybe never really had the chance to shop anywhere but the mall. And for them to see, you know, just weird styles that are something different, less cookie-cutter than what you see at the mall.

BSC: Yeah, I agree. Because there's this perception that teenagers today just want to look like what they see in a magazine or to look like everyone else. I went to school for fashion design and there are tons of 'fashion kids' there, you know what I mean? That aesthetic. So it's nice to see that style actually getting out of an art school setting or a big city setting and into the Midwest.

TD:  I just feel like kids have way more individual style than they used to as a whole because of the internet or like social media or whatever. Kids are way cooler than they were when I was their age.

BSC: Maybe part of it is because kids today can look at something vintage, maybe their mom's, but cut it up or wear it totally different and suddenly it's no longer just what was square or regular back then. It's taking that and elevating it. That's definitely a social media thing, I think.

TD: I was gonna say, being here in LA,there's so much already flooding the industry, and I don't know, what is the point of creating more stuff if it's not serving a useful purpose?

BSC: It's just so true. Heathermary and I were talking about the new Fendi Baguette campaign for the 25th anniversary. And how I watched Linda Evangelista close the show and then now she's doing the campaign for the bag redesign. The images have this totally glazed over plasticated look that doesn't speak to the times whatsoever, and doesn't recognize anything happening in our society. We looked at each other and we said, what is that team even doing? Brownstone, uses vintage fashion as a platform for foraying into politics and important foreign issues without sacrificing our aesthetic in either fashion or politics. You take fashion with you, but you're not just focusing on that and totally glazing over the rest of the world that is so much more important.

TD: Yeah. I mean, my favorite clients are by appointment. And you know, I feel good because the Michigan store still gives me this opportunity to really take it slow as far as acquiring a kind of 'like-minded clientele.’ Most of my favorite clients just understand what Mothfood actually is; it's the people who used to buy designer clothing. And, for instance, in the past two or three months, I've sold so many 1940s, ‘50s, and ‘60s men's trousers. They're super nice and obviously way better material that you can get now. And they look like designer pants that you'd go into some store on Melrose and pay $750 for. While that stuff (vintage) is already there, you know? So I feel like this is something that I find really fulfilling in filling that gap for people who are just so over the whole designer cycle.

BSC: You said, people who know what Mothfood is - that's how you define Mothfood: the space where people who are 'over it' and who want quality, but aren't going to go and play the designer game?

TD: Yeah, that's good. Plus it's kind of easy to vet people just because some people don't understand what Mothfood is, you know, a joke, a little tongue in cheek, and it's kind of anti-fashion in a way.

BSC: Kind of like its own oxymoron. Just a little bit.

TD: Probably the favorite people that I've met here in LA are people that are over that whole institution, the runway shows and the high end retail stores - just the whole experience. People who want something a little more real by getting the quality of designer clothing and more well-made clothing that's already been made.

BSC: And how do you feel about these menswear/vintage influencers from, well, Tik Tok specifically, but in general how do you think that they've influenced people when it comes to buying vintage?

TD: I'm not that familiar with Tik Tok. I've been on the edge of getting started, still finding my angle for it.

BSC: No I know, it's a tough market to crack now.

TD: I definitely have noticed for, specifically men... it's surprising, their knowledge of actual vintage at this point. To me, a lot of it has to do with the difference between a nineties sweatshirt and a forties sweatshirt. There's way more people now that are into those details. And when I was in my twenties doing this, there were only a handful of menswear dealers all over the country, but now everybody knows what a reverse weave is, what a single stitch t-shirt is or what a pair of selvedge jeans are. I think the interest level is way higher than it used to be and I think it's probably because there's so much more information online than there used to be.

BSC: And is that across your two stores? You'd say most people that come in with all that information? Or still more in LA than Detroit.

TD: Definitely more here in LA. Detroit, you know, it's not really known for fashion, but even the people that are shopping there know what they're talking about and they're willing to spend just as much as people out here. Yeah. So it's definitely not just a coastal thing, because I get a good view from both having a general old fashioned, giant, Midwest vintage store and a specialized by appointment showroom.

BSC: Those are the best ends of the stick, seeing how it functions on both sides of the industry.

TD: Yeah, it's super interesting to me.

BSC: So when you opened, did you have a target market? I mean, even me personally, you know, women or girls my age are wearing men's clothes all the time. Like, I own five pairs of men's khakis and cords. Versus years ago when it was menswear for men and womenswear for women So were you wanting to specifically source older menswear just because that's your niche, or because you wanted to bring that to a certain population? I love to ask this.

TD: Well in the early 2000s, I was just filling my car with old workwear every day because nobody else was doing it, and I sold a lot to Japanese customers. And then maybe somebody from a design team who was from Michigan would come to my store and I'd show them rare or utilitarian stuff from wartime. In 2014, me and my girlfriend at the time moved here on a whim. She had run a Barneys in Philly for ten years and I had been running my store for maybe twelve. I really had no idea about real designer clothing and she kind of knew nothing about collectible clothing. So when we moved here, we ended up opening up a store that took her strengths from the design world and then helped me to learn more about fashion. Kind of like a really cool crash course in being here and cultivating clientele for just good clothing. Period. Early clothing, designer clothing, antique clothing, and kind of modernizing it. It was for people who don't want to look dated but want to wear something cool.

BSC: Do you guys rework any of the pieces as well? Or do brand collaborations?

TD: Well, the Michigan store is just like a straight up vintage store; it's lower price point and we carry everything from period clothing to trendy race car T-shirts. But here, I've done original pieces a couple of times. I just don't really invest much time into the idea because I keep going back and forth about making things - I'm just so anti buying anything new at this point.

BSC: I'm sure it's great to look back now, twenty years down the road and see where you are now in LA versus when you were still filling up your trunk.

TD: Oh yeah, I was a psychotic buyer back then

BSC: It's like, 'hey man, I've got something cool to show you in my trunk. Let me give that to you...'

TD: Haha yeah it's a fun trajectory

BSC: Did you ever think about what you're doing in terms of sustainability? Or did you think about it more in terms of aesthetic or even just the durability aspect of workwear?

TD: The durability back then was very much at the forefront of what I liked about older clothing and I think sustainability has always been in the back of my mind. It''s not even a talking point for me at this point, it's a lifestyle. There's no way in hell I'm gonna go to say, J Crew, and buy a pair of pants. But I don't really think about it. For some people though, they're still in the greenwashing state but then you have all of these apparel brands trying to act like they're saving the world by STILL producing bad clothes.

BSC: It's ironic. It's so ironic.

“For some people though, they're still in the greenwashing state but then you have all of these apparel brands trying to act like they're saving the world by STILL producing bad clothes.”

TD: Yeah. But it's all about trying to save face.

BSC: And yet no one is. It's interesting to see actual people come into the industry that are true activists. For instance, do you know of Quannah Chasinghorse? She's an Alaska Native American model, but she seems to be a pioneer in a bigger call for real sustainability now. Plus not endorsing fast fashion anymore and calling for models and creatives to think deeply about brands they're willing to associate with. So hopefully, a top down change is coming more than from the bottom up.

TD: You know, I think especially with the pandemic, I think people just want something more real. My space? It's not flashy but it's also not some minimal art installation. It is what it is, where I can talk to you about each piece of clothing there, but it's not super Instagrammable. And it's funny, because when I first started, I was really self conscious of that. Looking at social media, anybody with a retail store keeps it so polished and clean and nice - and I'm not saying my place wasn't clean, but it's very basic. And it's been surprising to me, some of the clients who come to me who you would think would've never stepped foot in a place like that. I think it shows how much people just want something real. Something authentic.

BSC: You have a good time stamp with the pandemic, and the amount of people wanting to come out of that time period a changed person. And you're definitely not wrong - I feel like probably 50% of consumers at this point, especially Gen Z and younger people can go to a place just to post on their story or tag them on Instagram.

“It's been surprising to me, some of the clients who come to me who you would think would've never stepped foot in a place like that. I think it shows how much people just want something real.”

TD: Yeah. One hundred percent.

BSC: But I'm guilty of that, too, occasionally going somewhere and thinking 'Oh, I know how good this is going to look. But it's about people totally reevaluating their lifestyle now. I mean going out and being seen doesn't mean what it used to.

TD: I see that with shopping in general. I think there's definitely a yearning for there to be places (like mine) that are a destination. I think people really want an experience like that. Everything is so blown out. I mean, what's the world like now? Nobody's excited about anything because everything's been seen, you know? I think there's definitely something in having a private space - I think it's where the future is going; I just don't think social media is going to have the influence it did forever.

BSC: Yeah, I think Tik Tok hit its peak and Instagram hit its peak. And now who knows what with Twitter, but it's definitely not peaking.

TD: I think people want something private, you know?

BSC: Yeah, one on one. Or to feel like they're valued after a time where everyone has felt that we were just getting the short end of the stick, stuck in our houses for years on years. So how does it work for you to translate that feeling onto social media?

TD: Through stuff that I post - very homemade things, you know, little alterations or repairs that make something one of a kind. Rarely is it a designer piece or a rare piece of menswear. It's just all of the stuff in between that really wasn't supposed to be saved or worn out in a cool way. And I feel that's how I use social media to attract people who appreciate that too. There's not many places to shop if you're looking for that kind of stuff here in LA.

BSC: I mean you can go to Filth Mart for the great T-shirts, but then again, that's a totally different clientele than what you have. It's more holy grail and less just good quality, great print tees.

TD: Yeah, it's cool to find a Jimi Hendrix t-shirt from like, 1970, but I really get off more on having someone's name hand-embroidered.

BSC: And if you're not interested in it, then it's not going to translate the way you want it to.

TD: You don't want to appeal to everybody, either. It's really funny but when I do shows, a lot of people will look at the name of my business and say ' that's so disgusting' or 'I can't believe somebody would name their business that' and it makes me so happy because yeah, you're definitely not gonna shop with me or understand what I have. Kind of weeds people out.

Tommy Dorr, Mothfood Vintage

Photography: Timothy Mahoney

Interview: Camille Bavera

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Mothfood Vintage

Although it’s known on the LA scene as ‘Mothfood,’ the vintage menswear store curated by Tommy Dorr is nothing like the scene of moth-eaten fabric we conjure up in our minds. Instead it’s nothing short of a vintage menswear Mecca. What started as a business out of his trunk became a warehouse-esque establishment in Detroit (where Dorr is originally from) and has evolved over the course of twenty years to become a highly sought after, appointment-only showroom in Los Angeles known for well-tailored men’s trousers, tees and unique workwear dating back to the 1940’s.

Dorr lives in the best of both worlds; having retained his flagship location in Michigan in addition to opening a second, more niche showroom out west in (LA) 2013. Not only does this mean selling to two different sets of clientele (all of which he says are similarly-minded) but is inspired by a wide variety of consumers, too. There’s nothing better than having to dig through piles of old coveralls and race car t-shirts, but as Dorr points out, he gets a big thrill helping production teams build characters for movies and television through clothing, working as consultant as well as curator.

Ultimately for Dorr, it’s all about bringing the clothing to the consumer, and not vice versa. If you want to get away from the fastest fashion and into a world of fine things that predate an oversaturated market of new clothing, then this isn’t a bad place to get some great men’s cords or khakis. You haven’t lived until you’ve walked a mile in some man’s trousers.

Tommy Dorr, Mothfood Vintage

Photography: Timothy Mahoney

Interview: Camille Bavera

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Mothfood Vintage

Fashion & Beauty

Photography: Timothy Mahoney

Interview: Camille Bavera

Although it’s known on the LA scene as ‘Mothfood,’ the vintage menswear store curated by Tommy Dorr is nothing like the scene of moth-eaten fabric we conjure up in our minds. Instead it’s nothing short of a vintage menswear Mecca. What started as a business out of his trunk became a warehouse-esque establishment in Detroit (where Dorr is originally from) and has evolved over the course of twenty years to become a highly sought after, appointment-only showroom in Los Angeles known for well-tailored men’s trousers, tees and unique workwear dating back to the 1940’s.

Dorr lives in the best of both worlds; having retained his flagship location in Michigan in addition to opening a second, more niche showroom out west in (LA) 2013. Not only does this mean selling to two different sets of clientele (all of which he says are similarly-minded) but is inspired by a wide variety of consumers, too. There’s nothing better than having to dig through piles of old coveralls and race car t-shirts, but as Dorr points out, he gets a big thrill helping production teams build characters for movies and television through clothing, working as consultant as well as curator.

Ultimately for Dorr, it’s all about bringing the clothing to the consumer, and not vice versa. If you want to get away from the fastest fashion and into a world of fine things that predate an oversaturated market of new clothing, then this isn’t a bad place to get some great men’s cords or khakis. You haven’t lived until you’ve walked a mile in some man’s trousers.


BSC: Is it a busy day? In terms of appointments?

TD: Yeah. We're just starting to book everybody - like the non industry types pretty much throughout the whole week. Monday and Tuesday is mostly industry  stuff, you get a lot of returns from rentals or retro pulls for TV shows and movies. And then design teams, when they're in town, they come for inspiration too.

BSC: What kind of movies and TV clients do you get? Because I know your selection is mostly vintage menswear. Is it more period for pieces, or are they trying to achieve that same aesthetic today?

TD: It's a little bit of both. I mean, it's funny because I feel like there was a lot more period stuff a few years ago, but lately, it's been a lot of 'main character' type stuff. There's just so much in production here, right? So a lot of times we don't even ask, but if it's a big thing, and it's early on in the production, we'll get moodboards to source for specific characters, which is really fun. I actually really enjoy that part.

BSC: Yeah, I really like to see how people are putting vintage much more on the main stage nowadays. I feel like that's come a lot from Tik Tok influencers and Instagram influencers that are making vintage, more fashionable, for lack of a better word.

TD: I mean I've had a store for like, 20 years, in Michigan, too. And I think it's just the overall popularity of intake. I feel like Michigan and the Midwest is a very telltale sign of what's happening in the whole United States and not just on a coastal, more fashionable side of it. It's not just alternative kids either (in Michigan), it's the mainstream mall shoppers. It's so different from what it used to be when I first started, and I think that's what's translating into the main movies and on TV.

BSC: That checks out. I feel like the majority of America is 'Middle America'. It's not just coastline cities. Granted, we have more people in our two cities than anywhere else, but -

TD: Yeah, that's why I can kind of gauge what's going on more with my Michigan store than versus the things I'm sourcing for here in LA.

BSC: Do you still have the other one? It's in Detroit? Right?

TD: Yeah, I moved out here about eight years ago, but that store is still doing well. It's really fun out here to work for my own interest level, but I think as a whole it's more fulfilling to influence young kids who maybe never really had the chance to shop anywhere but the mall. And for them to see, you know, just weird styles that are something different, less cookie-cutter than what you see at the mall.

BSC: Yeah, I agree. Because there's this perception that teenagers today just want to look like what they see in a magazine or to look like everyone else. I went to school for fashion design and there are tons of 'fashion kids' there, you know what I mean? That aesthetic. So it's nice to see that style actually getting out of an art school setting or a big city setting and into the Midwest.

TD:  I just feel like kids have way more individual style than they used to as a whole because of the internet or like social media or whatever. Kids are way cooler than they were when I was their age.

“What is the point of creating more stuff if it's not serving a useful purpose?”

BSC: Maybe part of it is because kids today can look at something vintage, maybe their mom's, but cut it up or wear it totally different and suddenly it's no longer just what was square or regular back then. It's taking that and elevating it. That's definitely a social media thing, I think.

TD: I was gonna say, being here in LA,there's so much already flooding the industry, and I don't know, what is the point of creating more stuff if it's not serving a useful purpose?

BSC: It's just so true. Heathermary and I were talking about the new Fendi Baguette campaign for the 25th anniversary. And how I watched Linda Evangelista close the show and then now she's doing the campaign for the bag redesign. The images have this totally glazed over plasticated look that doesn't speak to the times whatsoever, and doesn't recognize anything happening in our society. We looked at each other and we said, what is that team even doing? Brownstone, uses vintage fashion as a platform for foraying into politics and important foreign issues without sacrificing our aesthetic in either fashion or politics. You take fashion with you, but you're not just focusing on that and totally glazing over the rest of the world that is so much more important.

TD: Yeah. I mean, my favorite clients are by appointment. And you know, I feel good because the Michigan store still gives me this opportunity to really take it slow as far as acquiring a kind of 'like-minded clientele.’ Most of my favorite clients just understand what Mothfood actually is; it's the people who used to buy designer clothing. And, for instance, in the past two or three months, I've sold so many 1940s, ‘50s, and ‘60s men's trousers. They're super nice and obviously way better material that you can get now. And they look like designer pants that you'd go into some store on Melrose and pay $750 for. While that stuff (vintage) is already there, you know? So I feel like this is something that I find really fulfilling in filling that gap for people who are just so over the whole designer cycle.

BSC: You said, people who know what Mothfood is - that's how you define Mothfood: the space where people who are 'over it' and who want quality, but aren't going to go and play the designer game?

TD: Yeah, that's good. Plus it's kind of easy to vet people just because some people don't understand what Mothfood is, you know, a joke, a little tongue in cheek, and it's kind of anti-fashion in a way.

BSC: Kind of like its own oxymoron. Just a little bit.

TD: Probably the favorite people that I've met here in LA are people that are over that whole institution, the runway shows and the high end retail stores - just the whole experience. People who want something a little more real by getting the quality of designer clothing and more well-made clothing that's already been made.

BSC: And how do you feel about these menswear/vintage influencers from, well, Tik Tok specifically, but in general how do you think that they've influenced people when it comes to buying vintage?

TD: I'm not that familiar with Tik Tok. I've been on the edge of getting started, still finding my angle for it.

BSC: No I know, it's a tough market to crack now.

TD: I definitely have noticed for, specifically men... it's surprising, their knowledge of actual vintage at this point. To me, a lot of it has to do with the difference between a nineties sweatshirt and a forties sweatshirt. There's way more people now that are into those details. And when I was in my twenties doing this, there were only a handful of menswear dealers all over the country, but now everybody knows what a reverse weave is, what a single stitch t-shirt is or what a pair of selvedge jeans are. I think the interest level is way higher than it used to be and I think it's probably because there's so much more information online than there used to be.

BSC: And is that across your two stores? You'd say most people that come in with all that information? Or still more in LA than Detroit.

TD: Definitely more here in LA. Detroit, you know, it's not really known for fashion, but even the people that are shopping there know what they're talking about and they're willing to spend just as much as people out here. Yeah. So it's definitely not just a coastal thing, because I get a good view from both having a general old fashioned, giant, Midwest vintage store and a specialized by appointment showroom.

BSC: Those are the best ends of the stick, seeing how it functions on both sides of the industry.

TD: Yeah, it's super interesting to me.

BSC: So when you opened, did you have a target market? I mean, even me personally, you know, women or girls my age are wearing men's clothes all the time. Like, I own five pairs of men's khakis and cords. Versus years ago when it was menswear for men and womenswear for women So were you wanting to specifically source older menswear just because that's your niche, or because you wanted to bring that to a certain population? I love to ask this.

TD: Well in the early 2000s, I was just filling my car with old workwear every day because nobody else was doing it, and I sold a lot to Japanese customers. And then maybe somebody from a design team who was from Michigan would come to my store and I'd show them rare or utilitarian stuff from wartime. In 2014, me and my girlfriend at the time moved here on a whim. She had run a Barneys in Philly for ten years and I had been running my store for maybe twelve. I really had no idea about real designer clothing and she kind of knew nothing about collectible clothing. So when we moved here, we ended up opening up a store that took her strengths from the design world and then helped me to learn more about fashion. Kind of like a really cool crash course in being here and cultivating clientele for just good clothing. Period. Early clothing, designer clothing, antique clothing, and kind of modernizing it. It was for people who don't want to look dated but want to wear something cool.

“To me, a lot of it has to do with the difference between a nineties sweatshirt and a forties sweatshirt. There's way more people now that are into those details.”

BSC: Do you guys rework any of the pieces as well? Or do brand collaborations?

TD: Well, the Michigan store is just like a straight up vintage store; it's lower price point and we carry everything from period clothing to trendy race car T-shirts. But here, I've done original pieces a couple of times. I just don't really invest much time into the idea because I keep going back and forth about making things - I'm just so anti buying anything new at this point.

BSC: I'm sure it's great to look back now, twenty years down the road and see where you are now in LA versus when you were still filling up your trunk.

TD: Oh yeah, I was a psychotic buyer back then

BSC: It's like, 'hey man, I've got something cool to show you in my trunk. Let me give that to you...'

TD: Haha yeah it's a fun trajectory

BSC: Did you ever think about what you're doing in terms of sustainability? Or did you think about it more in terms of aesthetic or even just the durability aspect of workwear?

TD: The durability back then was very much at the forefront of what I liked about older clothing and I think sustainability has always been in the back of my mind. It''s not even a talking point for me at this point, it's a lifestyle. There's no way in hell I'm gonna go to say, J Crew, and buy a pair of pants. But I don't really think about it. For some people though, they're still in the greenwashing state but then you have all of these apparel brands trying to act like they're saving the world by STILL producing bad clothes.

BSC: It's ironic. It's so ironic.

“For some people though, they're still in the greenwashing state but then you have all of these apparel brands trying to act like they're saving the world by STILL producing bad clothes.”

TD: Yeah. But it's all about trying to save face.

BSC: And yet no one is. It's interesting to see actual people come into the industry that are true activists. For instance, do you know of Quannah Chasinghorse? She's an Alaska Native American model, but she seems to be a pioneer in a bigger call for real sustainability now. Plus not endorsing fast fashion anymore and calling for models and creatives to think deeply about brands they're willing to associate with. So hopefully, a top down change is coming more than from the bottom up.

TD: You know, I think especially with the pandemic, I think people just want something more real. My space? It's not flashy but it's also not some minimal art installation. It is what it is, where I can talk to you about each piece of clothing there, but it's not super Instagrammable. And it's funny, because when I first started, I was really self conscious of that. Looking at social media, anybody with a retail store keeps it so polished and clean and nice - and I'm not saying my place wasn't clean, but it's very basic. And it's been surprising to me, some of the clients who come to me who you would think would've never stepped foot in a place like that. I think it shows how much people just want something real. Something authentic.

BSC: You have a good time stamp with the pandemic, and the amount of people wanting to come out of that time period a changed person. And you're definitely not wrong - I feel like probably 50% of consumers at this point, especially Gen Z and younger people can go to a place just to post on their story or tag them on Instagram.

“It's been surprising to me, some of the clients who come to me who you would think would've never stepped foot in a place like that. I think it shows how much people just want something real.”

TD: Yeah. One hundred percent.

BSC: But I'm guilty of that, too, occasionally going somewhere and thinking 'Oh, I know how good this is going to look. But it's about people totally reevaluating their lifestyle now. I mean going out and being seen doesn't mean what it used to.

TD: I see that with shopping in general. I think there's definitely a yearning for there to be places (like mine) that are a destination. I think people really want an experience like that. Everything is so blown out. I mean, what's the world like now? Nobody's excited about anything because everything's been seen, you know? I think there's definitely something in having a private space - I think it's where the future is going; I just don't think social media is going to have the influence it did forever.

BSC: Yeah, I think Tik Tok hit its peak and Instagram hit its peak. And now who knows what with Twitter, but it's definitely not peaking.

TD: I think people want something private, you know?

BSC: Yeah, one on one. Or to feel like they're valued after a time where everyone has felt that we were just getting the short end of the stick, stuck in our houses for years on years. So how does it work for you to translate that feeling onto social media?

TD: Through stuff that I post - very homemade things, you know, little alterations or repairs that make something one of a kind. Rarely is it a designer piece or a rare piece of menswear. It's just all of the stuff in between that really wasn't supposed to be saved or worn out in a cool way. And I feel that's how I use social media to attract people who appreciate that too. There's not many places to shop if you're looking for that kind of stuff here in LA.

BSC: I mean you can go to Filth Mart for the great T-shirts, but then again, that's a totally different clientele than what you have. It's more holy grail and less just good quality, great print tees.

TD: Yeah, it's cool to find a Jimi Hendrix t-shirt from like, 1970, but I really get off more on having someone's name hand-embroidered.

BSC: And if you're not interested in it, then it's not going to translate the way you want it to.

TD: You don't want to appeal to everybody, either. It's really funny but when I do shows, a lot of people will look at the name of my business and say ' that's so disgusting' or 'I can't believe somebody would name their business that' and it makes me so happy because yeah, you're definitely not gonna shop with me or understand what I have. Kind of weeds people out.

Tommy Dorr, Mothfood Vintage

Photography: Timothy Mahoney

Interview: Camille Bavera

Mothfood Vintage

Photography: Timothy Mahoney

Interview: Camille Bavera

Although it’s known on the LA scene as ‘Mothfood,’ the vintage menswear store curated by Tommy Dorr is nothing like the scene of moth-eaten fabric we conjure up in our minds. Instead it’s nothing short of a vintage menswear Mecca. What started as a business out of his trunk became a warehouse-esque establishment in Detroit (where Dorr is originally from) and has evolved over the course of twenty years to become a highly sought after, appointment-only showroom in Los Angeles known for well-tailored men’s trousers, tees and unique workwear dating back to the 1940’s.

Dorr lives in the best of both worlds; having retained his flagship location in Michigan in addition to opening a second, more niche showroom out west in (LA) 2013. Not only does this mean selling to two different sets of clientele (all of which he says are similarly-minded) but is inspired by a wide variety of consumers, too. There’s nothing better than having to dig through piles of old coveralls and race car t-shirts, but as Dorr points out, he gets a big thrill helping production teams build characters for movies and television through clothing, working as consultant as well as curator.

Ultimately for Dorr, it’s all about bringing the clothing to the consumer, and not vice versa. If you want to get away from the fastest fashion and into a world of fine things that predate an oversaturated market of new clothing, then this isn’t a bad place to get some great men’s cords or khakis. You haven’t lived until you’ve walked a mile in some man’s trousers.


BSC: Is it a busy day? In terms of appointments?

TD: Yeah. We're just starting to book everybody - like the non industry types pretty much throughout the whole week. Monday and Tuesday is mostly industry  stuff, you get a lot of returns from rentals or retro pulls for TV shows and movies. And then design teams, when they're in town, they come for inspiration too.

BSC: What kind of movies and TV clients do you get? Because I know your selection is mostly vintage menswear. Is it more period for pieces, or are they trying to achieve that same aesthetic today?

TD: It's a little bit of both. I mean, it's funny because I feel like there was a lot more period stuff a few years ago, but lately, it's been a lot of 'main character' type stuff. There's just so much in production here, right? So a lot of times we don't even ask, but if it's a big thing, and it's early on in the production, we'll get moodboards to source for specific characters, which is really fun. I actually really enjoy that part.

BSC: Yeah, I really like to see how people are putting vintage much more on the main stage nowadays. I feel like that's come a lot from Tik Tok influencers and Instagram influencers that are making vintage, more fashionable, for lack of a better word.

TD: I mean I've had a store for like, 20 years, in Michigan, too. And I think it's just the overall popularity of intake. I feel like Michigan and the Midwest is a very telltale sign of what's happening in the whole United States and not just on a coastal, more fashionable side of it. It's not just alternative kids either (in Michigan), it's the mainstream mall shoppers. It's so different from what it used to be when I first started, and I think that's what's translating into the main movies and on TV.

BSC: That checks out. I feel like the majority of America is 'Middle America'. It's not just coastline cities. Granted, we have more people in our two cities than anywhere else, but -

TD: Yeah, that's why I can kind of gauge what's going on more with my Michigan store than versus the things I'm sourcing for here in LA.

BSC: Do you still have the other one? It's in Detroit? Right?

TD: Yeah, I moved out here about eight years ago, but that store is still doing well. It's really fun out here to work for my own interest level, but I think as a whole it's more fulfilling to influence young kids who maybe never really had the chance to shop anywhere but the mall. And for them to see, you know, just weird styles that are something different, less cookie-cutter than what you see at the mall.

BSC: Yeah, I agree. Because there's this perception that teenagers today just want to look like what they see in a magazine or to look like everyone else. I went to school for fashion design and there are tons of 'fashion kids' there, you know what I mean? That aesthetic. So it's nice to see that style actually getting out of an art school setting or a big city setting and into the Midwest.

TD:  I just feel like kids have way more individual style than they used to as a whole because of the internet or like social media or whatever. Kids are way cooler than they were when I was their age.

“What is the point of creating more stuff if it's not serving a useful purpose?”

BSC: Maybe part of it is because kids today can look at something vintage, maybe their mom's, but cut it up or wear it totally different and suddenly it's no longer just what was square or regular back then. It's taking that and elevating it. That's definitely a social media thing, I think.

TD: I was gonna say, being here in LA,there's so much already flooding the industry, and I don't know, what is the point of creating more stuff if it's not serving a useful purpose?

BSC: It's just so true. Heathermary and I were talking about the new Fendi Baguette campaign for the 25th anniversary. And how I watched Linda Evangelista close the show and then now she's doing the campaign for the bag redesign. The images have this totally glazed over plasticated look that doesn't speak to the times whatsoever, and doesn't recognize anything happening in our society. We looked at each other and we said, what is that team even doing? Brownstone, uses vintage fashion as a platform for foraying into politics and important foreign issues without sacrificing our aesthetic in either fashion or politics. You take fashion with you, but you're not just focusing on that and totally glazing over the rest of the world that is so much more important.

TD: Yeah. I mean, my favorite clients are by appointment. And you know, I feel good because the Michigan store still gives me this opportunity to really take it slow as far as acquiring a kind of 'like-minded clientele.’ Most of my favorite clients just understand what Mothfood actually is; it's the people who used to buy designer clothing. And, for instance, in the past two or three months, I've sold so many 1940s, ‘50s, and ‘60s men's trousers. They're super nice and obviously way better material that you can get now. And they look like designer pants that you'd go into some store on Melrose and pay $750 for. While that stuff (vintage) is already there, you know? So I feel like this is something that I find really fulfilling in filling that gap for people who are just so over the whole designer cycle.

BSC: You said, people who know what Mothfood is - that's how you define Mothfood: the space where people who are 'over it' and who want quality, but aren't going to go and play the designer game?

TD: Yeah, that's good. Plus it's kind of easy to vet people just because some people don't understand what Mothfood is, you know, a joke, a little tongue in cheek, and it's kind of anti-fashion in a way.

BSC: Kind of like its own oxymoron. Just a little bit.

TD: Probably the favorite people that I've met here in LA are people that are over that whole institution, the runway shows and the high end retail stores - just the whole experience. People who want something a little more real by getting the quality of designer clothing and more well-made clothing that's already been made.

BSC: And how do you feel about these menswear/vintage influencers from, well, Tik Tok specifically, but in general how do you think that they've influenced people when it comes to buying vintage?

TD: I'm not that familiar with Tik Tok. I've been on the edge of getting started, still finding my angle for it.

BSC: No I know, it's a tough market to crack now.

TD: I definitely have noticed for, specifically men... it's surprising, their knowledge of actual vintage at this point. To me, a lot of it has to do with the difference between a nineties sweatshirt and a forties sweatshirt. There's way more people now that are into those details. And when I was in my twenties doing this, there were only a handful of menswear dealers all over the country, but now everybody knows what a reverse weave is, what a single stitch t-shirt is or what a pair of selvedge jeans are. I think the interest level is way higher than it used to be and I think it's probably because there's so much more information online than there used to be.

BSC: And is that across your two stores? You'd say most people that come in with all that information? Or still more in LA than Detroit.

TD: Definitely more here in LA. Detroit, you know, it's not really known for fashion, but even the people that are shopping there know what they're talking about and they're willing to spend just as much as people out here. Yeah. So it's definitely not just a coastal thing, because I get a good view from both having a general old fashioned, giant, Midwest vintage store and a specialized by appointment showroom.

BSC: Those are the best ends of the stick, seeing how it functions on both sides of the industry.

TD: Yeah, it's super interesting to me.

BSC: So when you opened, did you have a target market? I mean, even me personally, you know, women or girls my age are wearing men's clothes all the time. Like, I own five pairs of men's khakis and cords. Versus years ago when it was menswear for men and womenswear for women So were you wanting to specifically source older menswear just because that's your niche, or because you wanted to bring that to a certain population? I love to ask this.

TD: Well in the early 2000s, I was just filling my car with old workwear every day because nobody else was doing it, and I sold a lot to Japanese customers. And then maybe somebody from a design team who was from Michigan would come to my store and I'd show them rare or utilitarian stuff from wartime. In 2014, me and my girlfriend at the time moved here on a whim. She had run a Barneys in Philly for ten years and I had been running my store for maybe twelve. I really had no idea about real designer clothing and she kind of knew nothing about collectible clothing. So when we moved here, we ended up opening up a store that took her strengths from the design world and then helped me to learn more about fashion. Kind of like a really cool crash course in being here and cultivating clientele for just good clothing. Period. Early clothing, designer clothing, antique clothing, and kind of modernizing it. It was for people who don't want to look dated but want to wear something cool.

“To me, a lot of it has to do with the difference between a nineties sweatshirt and a forties sweatshirt. There's way more people now that are into those details.”

BSC: Do you guys rework any of the pieces as well? Or do brand collaborations?

TD: Well, the Michigan store is just like a straight up vintage store; it's lower price point and we carry everything from period clothing to trendy race car T-shirts. But here, I've done original pieces a couple of times. I just don't really invest much time into the idea because I keep going back and forth about making things - I'm just so anti buying anything new at this point.

BSC: I'm sure it's great to look back now, twenty years down the road and see where you are now in LA versus when you were still filling up your trunk.

TD: Oh yeah, I was a psychotic buyer back then

BSC: It's like, 'hey man, I've got something cool to show you in my trunk. Let me give that to you...'

TD: Haha yeah it's a fun trajectory

BSC: Did you ever think about what you're doing in terms of sustainability? Or did you think about it more in terms of aesthetic or even just the durability aspect of workwear?

TD: The durability back then was very much at the forefront of what I liked about older clothing and I think sustainability has always been in the back of my mind. It''s not even a talking point for me at this point, it's a lifestyle. There's no way in hell I'm gonna go to say, J Crew, and buy a pair of pants. But I don't really think about it. For some people though, they're still in the greenwashing state but then you have all of these apparel brands trying to act like they're saving the world by STILL producing bad clothes.

BSC: It's ironic. It's so ironic.

“For some people though, they're still in the greenwashing state but then you have all of these apparel brands trying to act like they're saving the world by STILL producing bad clothes.”

TD: Yeah. But it's all about trying to save face.

BSC: And yet no one is. It's interesting to see actual people come into the industry that are true activists. For instance, do you know of Quannah Chasinghorse? She's an Alaska Native American model, but she seems to be a pioneer in a bigger call for real sustainability now. Plus not endorsing fast fashion anymore and calling for models and creatives to think deeply about brands they're willing to associate with. So hopefully, a top down change is coming more than from the bottom up.

TD: You know, I think especially with the pandemic, I think people just want something more real. My space? It's not flashy but it's also not some minimal art installation. It is what it is, where I can talk to you about each piece of clothing there, but it's not super Instagrammable. And it's funny, because when I first started, I was really self conscious of that. Looking at social media, anybody with a retail store keeps it so polished and clean and nice - and I'm not saying my place wasn't clean, but it's very basic. And it's been surprising to me, some of the clients who come to me who you would think would've never stepped foot in a place like that. I think it shows how much people just want something real. Something authentic.

BSC: You have a good time stamp with the pandemic, and the amount of people wanting to come out of that time period a changed person. And you're definitely not wrong - I feel like probably 50% of consumers at this point, especially Gen Z and younger people can go to a place just to post on their story or tag them on Instagram.

“It's been surprising to me, some of the clients who come to me who you would think would've never stepped foot in a place like that. I think it shows how much people just want something real.”

TD: Yeah. One hundred percent.

BSC: But I'm guilty of that, too, occasionally going somewhere and thinking 'Oh, I know how good this is going to look. But it's about people totally reevaluating their lifestyle now. I mean going out and being seen doesn't mean what it used to.

TD: I see that with shopping in general. I think there's definitely a yearning for there to be places (like mine) that are a destination. I think people really want an experience like that. Everything is so blown out. I mean, what's the world like now? Nobody's excited about anything because everything's been seen, you know? I think there's definitely something in having a private space - I think it's where the future is going; I just don't think social media is going to have the influence it did forever.

BSC: Yeah, I think Tik Tok hit its peak and Instagram hit its peak. And now who knows what with Twitter, but it's definitely not peaking.

TD: I think people want something private, you know?

BSC: Yeah, one on one. Or to feel like they're valued after a time where everyone has felt that we were just getting the short end of the stick, stuck in our houses for years on years. So how does it work for you to translate that feeling onto social media?

TD: Through stuff that I post - very homemade things, you know, little alterations or repairs that make something one of a kind. Rarely is it a designer piece or a rare piece of menswear. It's just all of the stuff in between that really wasn't supposed to be saved or worn out in a cool way. And I feel that's how I use social media to attract people who appreciate that too. There's not many places to shop if you're looking for that kind of stuff here in LA.

BSC: I mean you can go to Filth Mart for the great T-shirts, but then again, that's a totally different clientele than what you have. It's more holy grail and less just good quality, great print tees.

TD: Yeah, it's cool to find a Jimi Hendrix t-shirt from like, 1970, but I really get off more on having someone's name hand-embroidered.

BSC: And if you're not interested in it, then it's not going to translate the way you want it to.

TD: You don't want to appeal to everybody, either. It's really funny but when I do shows, a lot of people will look at the name of my business and say ' that's so disgusting' or 'I can't believe somebody would name their business that' and it makes me so happy because yeah, you're definitely not gonna shop with me or understand what I have. Kind of weeds people out.

Tommy Dorr, Mothfood Vintage

Photography: Timothy Mahoney

Interview: Camille Bavera

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