Treasure: Retro fashion access, interest exploding

Khristi Zimmeth
Special to The Detroit News

He may dress some of Hollywood’s brightest stars, but Christos Garkinos is still a local boy at heart. In town last week for a reception at the au courant Detroit Foundation Hotel across from Cobo Center, the style expert and co-owner of Decades ( in Los Angeles hosted a reception and dinner for Everything but the House, an online estate sale company in the hotel’s Apparatus Room. A longtime vintage clothing fan, I was happy to talk collectible couture with him and get his thoughts on what’s new in retro fashion.

How do you define vintage?

True vintage is 20 years or older. So Gianni-era Versace is vintage. Did you see the last (runway) show? It was all a nod to that ’90s moment. But for me, true vintage is the ’60s and ’70s.

When did you become interested in vintage fashion?

While at school at (the University of) Michigan, I found that the vintage shops were a great place to find well priced and interesting pieces. I was definitely on a budget, so finding a $2 shirt that looked like a million dollars was always the goal.

Tell me about your upbringing in Detroit/Grosse Pointe.

I was born and raised in Detroit and moved to Grosse Pointe Woods when I was 9. My parents had a diner (of course we are Greek!) in the Eastern Market called Meat Town Inn. My dad, “Nick the Greek,” was probably one of the most stylish men in town. We were very involved in the church, and every Sunday was a moment to see who would outdo who — I was hooked!

Where did you like to shop?

For special pieces when I was younger it was all about Hughes and Hatcher … in high school I was obsessed with Max Green’s at Eastland Mall.

Who do you credit with developing your sense of style?

Definitely my dad — he looked like Engelbert Humperdinck, the British singer. He loved crushed velvet tuxes, cufflinks and color.

Do you still shop in Detroit, and if so, where?

I was just back and love the John Varvatos store and Detroit is the New Black. But I always love going to Royal Oak to hit vintage boutiques.

How has the vintage business changed through the years?

It has exploded in term of access and interest. My store has been at the forefront of it, but what I love is that sites like EBTH ( can bring vintage everywhere — and you still feel like you are on the hunt.

Favorite tips for mixing vintage and new fashion?

Always mix. Try not to do an entire vintage look, it will age you. You can pair a fast fashion sexy dress with a ladylike vintage clutch that EBTH sells for a perfect balanced look. With vintage it’s always about looking modern.

Favorite era for vintage clothing?

Definitely the ’70s. I was a disco kid who dreamed of being on a horse with Marisa Berenson arriving at Studio 54. I love ’70s Halston from a design standpoint.

Best deal ever? Do you still have it?

I found a tan shearling coat for $1 at Jet Rag in Los Angeles 20 years ago. I looked like McCloud from TV wearing it. People would stop me all the time thinking it was Gucci. But I lost it four years ago. I hope it turns up on EBTH someday!

Favorite vintage designer?

Other than Halston, it would be Tom Ford at Gucci. Yes, it’s considered neo vintage because it’s within the last 20 years. His pieces are incredibly collectible.

Do you have a “Holy Grail” piece that you dream of finding and, if so, what is it?

For me the Holy Grail would be to find the McQueen shoes from his last collection as worn by Lady Gaga. Some of my clients have them, but they won’t give them up!

Which one vintage piece should all stylish people have in their wardrobe?

A vintage Levi’s jacket — it’s the ultimate dress up and dress down piece. I love it when I see a celebrity pair a jacket with a dressy look. So chic!