Tucked away in an industrial neighborhood on the south side of Santa Fe, New Mexico lies Santa Fe Vintage, the most impressive vintage showroom this side (or let’s face it any side) of the Mississippi. (Tokyo, though, is another story.) The shop’s remote location is not one that many visitors to Santa Fe get to see, but as its proprietor Scott Corey tells me, it suits the business just fine.
According to Corey, a seasoned vintage veteran who is as humble as he is informative, the majority of the showroom’s customers are found through word of mouth as the shop is by appointment only. Of course when those mouths happen to belong to some of the world’s biggest designers and vintage buyers, it’s better to be a destination than a store you simply pass on through. Although, after spending an afternoon at Santa Fe Vintage, I couldn’t imagine anyone just breezing on through Corey’s two thousand plus square foot showroom without feeling compelled to dive headfirst into a pile of dead stock denim and loopwheeled sweatshirts.
It is a space that is both startling unpretentious (especially in comparison to many urban vintage outlets with smug salesmen and eye-popping prices) and spectacularly well put together. Truthfully, the showroom feels more like a museum than a gallery, and I’d say that the true reward of Santa Fe Vintage is not one individual piece but the experience of the space as a whole.
Corey has divided the showroom into separate themes that could best be described as mountaineering, military, western, haberdasher, etc.. Each space is like walking through a concept room for an imaginary collection. The racks are filled with pieces farmed from all over the world, while the shelves, cabinets, and walls are decorated with installations that reflect that given theme. The displays teem with vintage garments, flags, photographs, pins, swatches, and whatever other ephemera might help to capture the mood of the given space. The wares include mid-century hiking gear, Navajo moccasins, worn leather flight jackets, Saville Row suits, and really anything else you can ever imagine.
In our conversation Corey stressed the importance of the “eye” when it comes to vintage buying, along the way naming Doug Bihlmaier and Bob Melet as his ideals of impeccable taste. Yet, after spending some time at Santa Fe Vintage, I’d say Corey deserves to be mentioned alongside this illustrious duo, as he’s put together the best-kept vintage secret not only in the southwest but quite possibly in the world.