Who Loves Fashion More Than a Vintage Clothing Buff?

Few people on earth put more thought, care or flair into their outfits than the aficionados at a rare vintage clothing sale.

The elite collectors invited to attend the opening-night cocktails for the Sturbridge Show in New York City on Thursday evening think about clothes the way many people think about food — consuming for sustenance as much as for pleasure. Minutes after the doors opened at 5 p.m., the eager vintage hounds wove through rows of artfully merchandised booths noses down in search of something delectable.

“Tonight it’s the early birds — mostly dealers shopping for their own stores,” said David Brockman, 63, who runs the show and brought the event to Manhattan from Massachusetts, where it normally happens the Monday before the Brimfield Antique Flea Market. “I wanted to have a very particular, curated, design-inspiration show,” he said, alluding to the numerous fashion-design professionals who also come to shop, hoping to find old items from which to get new ideas.

Clockwise from top left, Fay Leshener, 36, a casting director who lives in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, wore an electric blue pantsuit and sipped wine. John Hill, 31, who works at Bergdorf Goodman, wore nothing under his lacy white Simone Rocha shirt. Liisa Jokinen, 49, is the creator of the Gem app, which aggregates vintage offerings from all around the internet. Steven Guarnaccia loves primary colors and considers himself an expert on Hecht ties.Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

In the 35 years he’s been working with vintage clothing, Mr. Brockman has gotten to know “pretty much all of the people” who are serious about it, he said. Growing up on a family farm in Missouri, he was bitten by the vintage bug early on, when his mother, an avid antique collector, took him along with her looking for old gems.

Mr. Brockman said he couldn’t pick a favorite item in this year’s show, which continues through Saturday. Though he favored the old denim and the 1920s and ’30s garments, he seemed to love it all. “Just look at that ’70s Saint Laurent over there!” he said, gesturing with great excitement at a red and pink printed dress hanging in a booth across the room.

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