Kit Warchol

 Writer, editor, etc.


How Fast Fashion Came for Vintage Buying Inside the cutthroat world of rag houses and reselling in the age of TikTok.

ELLE.com, October 2022

Alicia Siemens shoves her arm back into the sagging sack of flannel and graphic T-shirts to pull a periwinkle something out of the stack. She holds it up against her chest to reveal a floral-print peasant dress circa 1970s. “There’s some staining,” she says, touching a yellowing lace collar, “But we should be able to do something with it.”

Siemens tosses the dress into a nearby shopping cart with about a dozen other items that she and co-worker Amanda Sanchez have set aside—a threadbare tee that reads “It’s Not Who You Are, It’s What You…WEAR,” a wrinkled cashmere cardigan, ’90s cargo pants. Behind her, dozens of six-foot-tall stacks of used clothing, wrapped tightly in tattered blankets and bound with wire, await release.

As a vintage buyer for Reformation, it’s Seimens’ job to scour public and private rag houses like this one for one-of-a-kind pieces. She visits several of the unmarked warehouses on the outskirts of Los Angeles each week, spending four to five hours wading through bales of miscellaneous clothing, sometimes sorted, sometimes not, usually dirty.

Most of the warehouses have no air conditioning or heating. Today, in the blazing mid-August heat, the stacks have been moved outside under a tarp. A manager checks in to see how she’s doing, while another warehouse employee uses a forklift to stack the bales. Every package is unlabeled—they don’t tell Siemens where they get their supply, and she doesn’t ask.

cont. on ELLE.com 

Images courtesy Alicia Seimens