In January 2021, Laura Simmons took her lifelong love for all things old and decided to share that love with Fort Worth.
The 47-year-old opened Studio 74 Vintage, a vintage clothing store specializing in select pieces mostly created before the 1980s. Since opening the store, Simmons has been featured in Fort Worth magazine, collaborated with the Justin Boot Company for a clothing campaign and featured her clothes in style magazines like Western Wedding, Cowgirl and Cowboys and Indians. The clothes are beautiful, but the thrill of Studio 74 Vintage is deeper than the bespoke collection.
To walk through Simmons’ store is to walk through the history of Fort Worth.
On racks and shelves of clothing, the store at 4908 Camp Bowie Blvd. offers thousands of unique vintage items carefully selected by Simmons. The walls are lined with historic Fort Worth pieces – Fort Worth Cats baseball shirts, a Panther City vest adorned with a panther’s head, and vintage cowboy boots in various shades and sizes. Even the clothing tags, which list the decade and often the location the item is from, read like a love letter to Fort Worth history.
“Fort Worth is where culture and cowboys come together,” Simmons said. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere but Fort Worth.”
Simmons has always been an old soul.
She grew up in a historic Fort Worth home, and her older siblings and parents taught her to treasure music, cars, and vintage clothing. His parents were integrated into the Fort Worth community – his mother ran a beauty salon on the North Side and his father played against the Fort Worth Cats while playing for North Side High School.
In his spare time, Simmons collected antiques, old china, and vintage household items. She opened a stall at the Benbrook Antique shopping center in 2018 which got bigger and bigger until she started looking for somewhere a bit more permanent. As she moved to open her own boutique, her focus shifted to collecting vintage clothing.
“It sparked something in me that I can’t let go,” she said of the vintage clothes. “I have to save them.”
“The New Luxury”
In 2019, Simmons retired from his 25-year career in law enforcement and moved into a strip mall on the red bricks of Camp Bowie Boulevard.
On a hot December day, Simmons – dressed in 70s flare jeans, snakeskin boots and a mustard yellow blazer with an 80s gold leopard pin – moved among clothes racks clothing filled with colorful 70s blouses, 50s ball gowns and decades-old handbags. She talked about plans to redo the shop over the holidays — new flooring, fresh paint and a website where people can buy some of her vintage collection. The store has grown in popularity over the past year, and Simmons said she’s even seen some notable faces around the store, including Fort Worth native Leon Bridges.
If national trends are any indication, Simmons’ success looks likely to continue.
“As they say, vintage is the new luxury,” Simmons said.
Vintage clothing has become increasingly popular over the past couple of years. The focus on sustainability, eco-friendly spending and a drop in shopping during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic all played a role, according to Vogue.
“Vintage is so hot and fast fashion is dying,” Simmons said. “Vintage is like having an investment in your wardrobe. Because it’s improved, it will stand the test of time. If he has already lived that long, the chances of him living another 20-30 years are good.
Unlike most new clothes, Simmons said, vintage clothes don’t lose their value after they’ve been purchased. A 60s jacket will probably only increase in value if it sits in the closet for years, unlike most clothes from department stores or online stores.
The unique quality of the vintage is also increasingly in demand, Simmons said.
“I bet you can’t specifically name ten items you bought at Target or at the mall in the last year,” she said. “Because it’s forgettable.”
Many of Simmons’ clothes come from people who end up browsing through piles of family antiques that have gathered dust over the years. People carry trash bags and bins full of old clothes from great-grandmothers and rarely visit attics.
“Rarely a day goes by that someone doesn’t walk through the door and sell me something,” Simmons said.
For people who don’t know what else to do with loved ones’ possessions, letting their clothes live can mean a lot, Simmons said.
“For me, I think for that person and for their children who sell these things, they appreciate that it goes to a good home,” she said.
Word of mouth has increased the number of people coming to her to sell, but Simmons continues to work for her store. She researches real estate sales and will drive for hours early in the morning to be on the front lines of a good sale. And, of course, she never neglects other local businesses.
“I’m still a steward at heart,” she said. “I’m going to hit Goodwill stores and thrift stores every week. Sometimes several times a day. »
Clothes with a story
While shopping at Studio 74 Vintage — usually open Tuesday through Friday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. — you might come across an item of clothing with a floral tag that reads, “I belonged to someone special , ask about me.”
Simmons’ collection includes and has included clothing intertwined in North Texas history. She bought and sold dresses worn by Priscilla Davis – the second wife of Cullen Davis, infamously accused of killing Priscilla Davis’ daughter and attempting to have Priscilla Davis killed in the 1970s. his clothes worn by Van Cliburn’s mother. In 1962, Fort Worth launched the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, which attracts pianists from around the world.
Simmons purchased almost the entire wardrobe of James “Maggie” Megellas, a World War II veteran considered one of the most decorated combat officers in history. Megellas lived in Colleyville from around 2009 until his death in 2020. More recently, a woman sold him a jacket that belonged to Spanky McFarland. The inside of the jacket says it was custom made for the Dallas-born Little Rascals star.
Even clothes without a special label belonged to someone, and this unknown history is what brings Simmons back to vintage clothing again and again.
If you ask her to choose a favorite, she balks.
“It would be like choosing one of my favorite children,” she said.