ThriftCon, the #1 convention for vintage clothing and collectibles, welcomes ThriftPop

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Imagine a convention where hundreds of sustainable fashion and collectible brands gather and thousands of people attend. Also imagine that this elaborate event rotates across the United States and has a spin-off pop-up store.

It’s ThriftCon and ThriftPop.

The start of ThriftCon

What started in Denver in 2018 quickly became the #1 vintage clothing and collectibles convention in the United States. It’s a day dedicated to sustainable fashion while helping local fashion businesses.

Co-founders Mario (Mars) Conté and Ken Meade launched ThriftCon after spawning a sequel to their streetwear store, Station. They wanted to create a place for sustainable fashion and local brands, which is how ThriftCon was born.

In its first year, 40 vendors were in attendance, now there are over 100. After quickly gaining credibility with buyers, ThriftCon has expanded to other cities such as Miami, Los Angeles, Vegas and Atlanta. Due to each city’s unique vendors, no two events are ever the same.

“We just let this city and this energy of the moment determine what this specific event will be,” Meade said.

The impact of COVID-19

Unfortunately, when COVID-19 hit, ThriftCon shut down like the rest of the world. However, Meade and Conte used that time to focus on growing their audience.

“We were fortunate to use the downtime to focus on content and keep our audience engaged and actually came out of the pandemic with a larger audience, even though we weren’t able to travel and reach our markets in person,” Conte said.

Conte also said vintage and used shopping has grown exponentially during the pandemic. Because of this, ThriftCon is having even more success now.

“Vintage and second-hand shopping as a whole has picked up a ton of momentum thanks to COVID,” Conte said. “We knew we just had to stay involved and all the momentum we had previously created would be waiting for us on the other side.”

Although vendors vary from location to location, ThriftCon’s values ​​and goals remain the same. Conte and Meade are proud to make ThriftCon publicly available where anyone can participate. This shows in ThriftCon’s pricing and vendors.

Conte and Meade hope the convention will educate the public about the benefits of second-hand shopping.

“There is such a surplus of clothes circulating around the world and being produced every day,” Conte said. “We’re trying to de-stigmatize second-hand clothes.”

ThriftPop, a spin-off of ThriftCon

While sustainability is important to Meade and Conte, so is the ThriftCon community.

“It really became a celebration of all things vintage,” Conte said. He also said that vintage clothing can hold sentimental value for any individual and ThriftCon is the place to share that and find new friends.

“It’s a unique opportunity for many people to come together and find the connection that you won’t find in your immediate surroundings,” Meade said.

It’s thanks to the Denver community that Meade and Conte are just getting started. In addition to ThriftCon, they created ThriftPop, a vintage pop-up store held on the last Sunday of every month.

ThriftPop takes place in the parking lot next to the Denver Central Market at 27th and Larimer and features 40 local vintage vendors, a live DJ (aka Conte), a ThriftCon merchandising booth, and “lots of good vibes.”

The pop-up savings event was created to give Denver sellers as many opportunities as possible to get in front of people and establish a recurring market for savers that is often seen in cities like New York. and LA.

“And being able to selfishly shop and dig at all of our favorite vendors once a month,” Conte said.

The Common Collective, a non-gendered brand

A vendor that appreciates the ThriftCon community is Tristan Begoco-owner of The common collective. Bego has been a part of ThriftCon since the beginning, when she first heard about the event via Instagram and decided to become a vendor.

Bego at ThriftCon

I decided to do ThriftCon as a reseller, it was the first big savings event I had been invited to here in Denver and it looked like it was going to be a great time,” Bego said.

The Common Collective was born out of making gender-neutral, sustainable and affordable clothing like the everyday person.

It’s a creative and safe space for everyone, African Americans, LGBTQ+, women, anyone who feels like they don’t have a space, have a space,” Bego said.

Bego said ThriftCon has come a long way since it started in 2018. Since then, each venue has grown exponentially, attracting even more people every year. The ThriftCon experience includes food trucks, a DJ, and a clothing donation and swap area.

“ThriftCon is a great event for local creatives,” Bego said. “It does a great job of ensuring that we have space as vintage dealers or even as other artisans who also generate income.”

Bego is passionate about sustainability and loves that ThriftCon provides a way to raise awareness.

It’s nice to see this getting the community to support sustainability,” Bego said. “Anyone who does vintage resale or just resale, in general, is interested in cutting-edge fashion, i.e. sustainability.”

All About Vintage Brands – Heart of Vintage & Lost Room Collective

Meeting and connecting with new people is something Isabelle Conte-SalazarOwner of Vintage Heart and Lost Room Collective loves being a ThriftCon supplier the most.

“My favorite part of ThriftCon is meeting other vendors and connecting with people who are passionate about the vintage community,” Conte-Salazar said.

Although his first ThriftCon experience was last year, it gave him the confidence to come back and continue to grow his brand.

I did my first ThriftCon last year with my personal brand, Heart of Vintage,” Conte-Salazar said. This was actually my second pop-up and gave me the confidence to continue growing my brand.

Conte-Salazar and her business partners at Denver Fashion Week

Similar to Bego, its vintage brands focus on sustainability and spread the love of vintage. She hopes that when buying her brands, people are inclined to dress the way they want and understand that vintage doesn’t have to be expensive.

“We want people to be inspired to dress in a way that makes them feel more confident,” Conte-Salazar said. “We always encourage people to choose pieces that they feel are their authentic style instead of just following what’s trending.”

Shop Vintage Heart, Lost Room Collectiveand The common collective at Thrift-Pop on Sunday, May 29 at 12 p.m. Tickets are available at EventBrite.

All photography from ThriftCon Denver.

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