Crimes upon crimes on Forbes

Vintage is back, and style-mongers all over are starting to turn their eyes to the fashion eras from which their parents hail. While thrift stores are readily available throughout Pittsburgh, there’s no guarantee of finding genuine vintage clothing. Thrift stores such as the popular Avalon, which recently relocated to Squirrel Hill, feature an eclectic mix of clothing from the past several decades. Still, the concentration of goods is more geared towards the present, consisting mostly of alternative styles that are a few years old.

What sets Crimes of Fashion apart from the general definition that thrift stores have taken on is its loyalty to truly vintage clothing. A five-minute walk down Forbes Avenue between campus and Craig Street, Crimes of Fashion is the business of two partners, Chuck Lipinksi and Tim Stanicz, and has been around for 16 years. Both are originally from Pittsburgh and take turns working shifts throughout the week. The clothing line, Lipinkski claimed, was geared toward college students. “Our clientele is mostly college kids,” he said. “Disco sells, so it’s kind of taken over [the store]. It’s what [they] buy when they come here on the weekends.”

The clothing is mostly purchased from a vintage clothing warehouse in the Strip District, which only sells to registered dealers.

Lipinski and Stanicz started out selling at flea markets before eventually investing in a store. As for the name, it comes from a suggestion by Lipinksi’s unnamed friend. “He was reading a TV guide, and there was an article about bad fashion in movies,” Lipinski said, “and he said, ‘Look, crimes of fashion!’ so we decided [on it].”

The apparel styles that can be found at Crimes of Fashion are most flattering in the women’s section. The styles there range from around the 1940s and onward, and a plethora of hats, veils, gloves, scarves, and clutches grace the front section of the store. But the men’s selection seems to be much more lackluster, consisting mostly of conservative pants and tacky shirts.

The concept of real vintage is an appealing and charming one, but that seems to be one of the few proponents working for Crimes of Fashion. The lack of popularity that the store seems to experience could be attributed to a generally unappealing selection to the vintage hunter and casual shopper alike. None of the apparel is sized, so rummaging is necessary, which can be confusing since some of the clothes are labeled with neither measurements nor standard size equivalents. The service could also be improved; the general atmosphere yields the vibe, “You’re not welcome unless you’re buying something.”

The price range varies considerably; while most items are generally under $50, those on the higher end are priced high enough to cause a dent in the pockets of college-going students. This seems especially unreasonable given the sloppy presentation and unappealing style of the clothing available (flimsy patterned shirts for men and flamboyant party dresses for women). While a few pearls can occasionally be salvaged (usually in the form of accessories), the question remains of whether the service or the time is worth the purchase.