In January 2021, Laura Simmons took her lifelong love for all things old and decided to share that love with Fort Worth.
The 47-year-old opened Studio 74 Vintage, a vintage clothing store specializing in select pieces mostly created before the 1980s. Since the store opened, Simmons has been featured in Fort Worth magazine, collaborated with the Justin Boot Company for a clothing campaign and featured their clothing in style magazines such as Western Wedding, Cowgirl, and Cowboys and Indians. The clothes are beautiful, but the thrill of Studio 74 Vintage runs deeper than the bespoke collection.
To walk through the Simmons store is to walk through the history of Fort Worth.
On shelves and shelves of clothing, the store located at 4908 Camp Bowie Blvd. boasts thousands of unique vintage items carefully selected by Simmons. The walls are lined with historic Fort Worth pieces – baseball shirts from the Fort Worth Cats, a Panther City vest adorned with a panther head, and vintage cowboy boots in various shades and sizes. Even the clothing tags, which indicate the decade and often where the item came from, read like a love letter to Fort Worth history.
“Fort Worth is where culture and cowboys blend together,” said Simmons. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere other than Fort Worth.”
Simmons has always been an old soul.
She grew up in a historic Fort Worth home, and her older siblings and parents taught her to cherish old music, cars, and clothing. His parents were part of the Fort Worth community – his mother ran a beauty salon on the North Side and his father opposed the Fort Worth Cats while playing for North Side High School.
In his spare time, Simmons collected antiques, old china, and vintage housewares. She opened a booth at the Benbrook Antique Mall in 2018, which got bigger and bigger until she started looking for a place that was a little more permanent. As she moved to open her own store, her attention shifted to collecting vintage clothing.
“It started something inside of me that I can’t let go,” she said of vintage clothing. “I have to save them.”
“The new luxury”
In 2019, Simmons retired from her 25-year law enforcement career and moved to a shopping mall on the red bricks of Camp Bowie Boulevard.
On a hot December day, Simmons – clad in 70s flare jeans, snakeskin boots and a mustard-yellow blazer with an 80s leopard pin – moved among crowded clothing shelves colorful 70s blouses, 50s ball gowns and decades-old handbags. She opened up about her plans to remake the store over the holidays – new flooring, fresh paint, and a website where people can buy some of her vintage collection. The store has grown in popularity over the past year and Simmons said she has even seen notable faces around the store, including Leon Bridges from Fort Worth.
If national trends are any indication, Simmons’ success looks likely to continue.
“As they say, vintage is the new luxury,” Simmons said.
Vintage clothing has become increasingly popular over the past couple of years. The focus on sustainability, eco-friendly spending, and lower shopping during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic all played a role, according to Vogue.
“Vintage is so trendy and fast fashion is dying,” Simmons said. “Vintage is like investing in your wardrobe. Because it’s improved, it will stand the test of time. If he’s already lived that long, the chances of him living another 20 to 30 years are good.
Unlike most new clothes, Simmons said, vintage clothes don’t lose value after being purchased. A jacket from the 60s is only likely to increase in value if it sits in the closet for years, unlike most clothing in department stores or online stores.
There is also increasing demand for the unique quality of the vintage, Simmons said.
“I bet you can’t specifically name ten items that you bought from Target or the mall in the past year,” she said. “Because it’s forgettable.”
Collect the vintage
Much of Simmons’ clothing comes from people who ultimately rummaged through the piles of family antiques that have gathered dust over the years. People carry trash bags and tote bags full of old great-grandmothers’ clothes and rarely visit attics.
“Rarely does a day go by without someone walking through the door and selling me something,” Simmons said.
For people who don’t know what else to do with loved ones’ possessions, letting their clothes live can mean a lot, Simmons said.
“For me, I think for this person and for their kids who are selling these things, they appreciate it going to a good house,” she said.
Word of mouth has increased the number of people coming to her home to sell, but Simmons still does work for her store. She researches real estate sales and will drive for hours in the early morning hours to be the first to make a good sale. And, of course, she never neglects other local businesses.
“I am always a thrifty at heart,” she said. “I’m going to hit goodwill and thrift stores on the weekly. Sometimes several times a day.
Clothes with a story
While shopping at Studio 74 Vintage – usually open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. – you might come across an item of clothing with a floral tag that says, “I belonged to someone from special, find out about me. ”
The Simmons collection includes and has included garments interwoven in North Texas history. She bought and sold dresses worn by Priscilla Davis – the second wife of Cullen Davis, sadly accused of killing Priscilla Davis’ daughter and attempting to have Priscilla Davis killed in the 1970s. A man sold her clothes worn by Van Cliburn’s mother. In 1962, Fort Worth launched the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, which attracts pianists from all over the world.
Simmons purchased almost all of the wardrobe of James “Maggie” Megellas, a World War II veteran who is considered one of the most decorated combat officers in history. Megellas lived in Colleyville from about 2009 until his death in 2020. More recently, a woman sold him a jacket that belonged to Spanky McFarland. The inside of the jacket indicates that it was tailor-made for the Dallas-born Little Rascals star.
Even clothes without a special tag belonged to someone, and this unknown story is what brings Simmons back to vintage clothing over and over again.
If you ask her to pick a favorite, she balks.
“It would be like choosing one of my favorite kids,” she said.