Carol Z. Shane
Ricky Hopkins has the spirit of an entrepreneur and the principles of a conservationist.
On the business side, past author, Hopkins, and his crew seek to counter the effects of so-called “fast fashion”—a relatively new phenomenon in the clothing industry that has fashioned a toxic system of overproduction and consumption. One of the biggest polluters in the world.
And if the crowds at his recent sales event are any indication, it’s working.
The tagline of the past location is “Roots+culture – Vintage and Pre-Owned Curated” and the fashion Hopkins sells focuses on black history and culture. Oversized athletic jackets with bold graphics, colorful sweatshirts, iconic logos — anyone looking for urban style and a swing at friendly prices will find it at the Knoxville Vintage Market (KVM), the neighborhood’s version of a “street fair.”
For these frequent pop-up events, Hopkins sometimes welcomes other performers such as Second String, Thrift Knox, Grandpa Attic, Jay Nastyboy and The Thrift Fairy. In the year Jan. 22 at KVM in front of the Old City Performing Arts Center, co-presenter Spencer Siefke will be standing under the River Sports awning, offering quality outdoor apparel at “highly bargain prices.”
Born in Charlotte, North Carolina, Hopkins says he grew up shopping secondhand.
“My father was in the military so we moved around a lot. That’s all I grew up with. I was always collecting wine and buying. At first we had to; Then as we got older I loved doing it.
“Of course I bought new things, but as I became more aware of the Earth, I started to examine my history and myself and minorities and women and all that kind of stuff, and I was like, ‘Yo, I need to be more sustainable. I need to eat better, all that. That all became my idea. I tried. I’m not 100%. But I try.”
He gets his inventory “from anywhere, as long as it’s on hand. If it has a brand new tag on it, it’s still second-hand or aftermarket. He has been running the business for “six or seven years”.
The store’s logo includes the infinity symbol, which Hopkins said he always wanted to include. “’The past’ is basically a metaphor, which is literal. Now the old clothes around. They are also transferred – second, third.
Fast-fashion retailers like H&M and Zara produce cheap, low-quality, trendy clothes at breakneck speed and have many fans. “It’s in their face,” Hopkins said. I can’t really blame them. That’s why we put this here – to put it in their face. Fast fashion is pushing hard – let’s have something else for them. I think you will really appreciate it.
Hopkins credits his mother, a Dillard’s assistant manager, with developing her own clothing consciousness. She goes into things made in the USA with the earth in mind and people in mind. It’s a fashion ethic that goes hand in hand with her son.
This is our tagline for Knoxville Vintage Market: For People, For Planet.
For more Knoxville Vintage Market dates, check out instagram.com/past_around.
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