You know you might have made it when Chris Rock’s little brother walks into your vintage clothing store.
Kenzie Borland is a senior at Wichita State University and majored in strategic communications. She recently became part owner of a vintage clothing store in downtown Wichita called Dead Center Vintage. The space for the store was discovered through a Facebook ad. After she and one of her co-owners, Lazarus Massey, visited the space a few days before Christmas in 2019, they decided to go.
Borland, Massey, Gabrielle Griffoi and Morgan Goodwin own the store together. Borland and his friends met through vintage clothing. However, she said she wouldn’t consider herself an expert on vintage clothing, unlike her friends. She said her passion for vintage, art and community translates into her passion for the store.
“I’m not as good with clothes as they are, which I’m not sad about,” Borland said. “I don’t remember not knowing them. I just remember knowing them and that’s it. It wasn’t like my bread and butter. It really came back to the community.
The idea for the name of the store came while they were organizing a pop-up shop. Griffoi coined the name Dead Center Vintage. The idea behind Dead Center Vintage is based on the fact that the store is located in the middle of the United States, namely Kansas, and in the heart of Kansas, namely Wichita. Borland said the store’s name is also a pun since the clothes are old.
When it comes to getting hold for the store, Borland said there are many different methods they can choose from. Two of the ways they build curation are through vintage collectors’ collections and old piles of clothes that might even be infested with rats or have mold on them. They then dye the clothes they find in the old piles and try to rework them so they can resell them in the store.
Borland said the curation of their store and the selection it has was nice because of the comparison to vintage stores in big cities like New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
“When people come from these coastal towns it means it pays off because it means our curation is up there with these big cities and it means they [co-owners]are good at what they do,” Borland said.
Borland said being part of Dead Center Vintage is something she wants to do long term.
“Even though I never like to go get another job, I will always be a part of Dead Center in one way or another,” Borland said. “I never knew what I wanted to do and so when Dead Center like the idea came up to do pop-ups to love oh man we would really love to open a shop someday see how great that was a success and we haven’t even scratched the surface.
Borland aims to have a pop-up store through Dead Center Vintage before graduating from Wichita State.
“I wish Dead Center was more active specifically in campus life,” Borland said. “As a student, we have to be like WSU and Dead Center as operated because students care about sustainability and they can care about being sustainable.”