Best Alt Fashion 2021 | Kei Collective | Goods & Services | Phoenix

Shopping on Glendale Avenue

You really only meant to buy a box of moist towelettes and a can of string cheese on your way home from work the other day, but things got a little crazy. You were driving up Glendale Avenue looking for a convenience store when you spotted La Fama Bakery, thought, Ooh, empanadas!, and pulled in real quick.

Certainly, there’ll be a CVS or a Walgreens, you thought to yourself once you were back behind the wheel and licking frosting from a pan dulce. You didn’t see a grocery, but there was a Value Village, which got you to wondering how long it’d been since you’d gone thrifting, and that’s all it took — you were inside and pawing through a bin of vintage Melmac before you knew it. Plastic dishware was better with serving pieces, but they didn’t have any styrene serving platters. That orange corduroy bean bag chair was a steal, though, so it was worth the trip.

Read the rest of this essay...

It's cuteness overload the moment you walk into Kei Collective; open the door, and you're in a world of rainbows and baby animals and anime girls with big, sparkling eyes. The shop also stocks plenty of goods for people whose aesthetic runs more toward spooky than kawaii — plague doctor stickers, Victorian-style goth chokers, and devil earrings. What we love about Kei Collective isn't just the eye-popping assortment of clothes, accessories, and home decor; it's the fact that the shop celebrates and highlights the artists that create the merch. Kei Collective has more than 36,000 followers on Instagram and does a lot of its business online, which makes us feel lucky that the brick-and-mortar shop is right in our own town, allowing us to see all the cool stuff up close and in person.

Now that the world is opened up again, it's time for those of us who dress in yesteryear threads to get out and show off our best cotton-poly blends — and there's no better place than Antique Sugar to pick up some new-old vintage duds. A visit to our fave vintage shop always results in a pile of purchases, and last time we visited we nabbed a 1970s Nik-Nik shirt and a three-piece suit made entirely of spun petroleum. Women's wear is this shop's strong suit, though, and that daisy-patterned jumpsuit our friend Sue recently found there went great with a pair of Cuban-heeled slingbacks from 1967 — with the original price sticker still attached. Sizes small and large are always represented, and the friendly staff will give you their kind but honest opinion about what you're trying on. Pour a little Antique Sugar on us, honey!

For threads that reflect your fascination with true crime, your love of Halloween, or the darkness in your soul, look no further than Western Evil, a label run by Neil Preston Autry out of Maricopa. He screen-prints everything himself, including leggings adorned with mugshots of serial killers like John Wayne Gacy and Aileen Wuornos; T-shirts based on drawings by Misfits-era Glenn Danzig; and enamel pins that mash up Disney characters and cult leaders ("Mickey Manson" is a popular design). Autry has built a following on Instagram and TikTok due to his black humor and bad-boy good looks — the better to expose more people to his counterculture clothing designs. You might be able to catch him around town at conventions like Mad Monster Arizona, but if not, his website is always open for business.

We're old enough to remember when wearing a shirt with a Warner Bros. character on it was first the height of middle-school fashion, then later the absolute dorkiest thing ever. So it's amusing to us that shirts of that kind are now a hot trend. If vintage T-shirts of the music, sports, or pop culture variety are your thing, then Wang's Vintage will thrill your soul (and empty your wallet). Check out the store's Instagram page if you don't believe us — you'll find everything from a 1980s ALF shirt to a Dragonball Z baseball jersey, or a 1970s Fleetwood Mac concert tee. You can purchase through Instagram, or head to the brick-and-mortar shop in midtown Phoenix, which is bright, well-organized, and stocked with shirts, vintage jeans, and a few other things.

Truth be told, we can't afford a lot of the shoes in Many Worlds, but we still love to stop by the sleek black-and-white Phoenix storefront to drool over the high-end kicks on display. The store carries familiar brands like Nike, New Balance, and Adidas, but the merch is nothing you'll find at Foot Locker. We're talking Adidas Yeezy 350 V2s, Air Jordan 1 Metallic Gold 2020s, and New Balance 997 Aime Leon Dores. (And that's just the goods on the shelves; the kicks locked up in cases are far more valuable.) There's also a smattering of streetwear for sale, including a badass Phoenix shirt in honor of the Suns' playoff run. Many Worlds share its space with sister business Reshoevn8r, which offers shoe cleaning and refreshing services, as well as products to help you keep your sneakers looking fresh to death at home.

We know people who run marathons, and we know people who struggled through their first Couch to 5K program. They all go to Runner's Den for what they need. The unpretentious shop in uptown Phoenix has been serving generations of Valley joggers for more than 40 years, and whether your terrain of choice is trail, road, or treadmill, you can find shoes, socks, apparel, snacks, energy gels, sunglasses, and more to make your runs better. But far more valuable than the store's merchandise are the intangible things it offers: advice, online resources like calculators and articles, marathon training programs, group runs (when there's not a pandemic on), and encouragement when the going gets tough. Runner's Den is more than a store; it's a community.

Sure, Spirit Halloween stores crop up all over Phoenix come fall. But maybe you need a costume sometime other than mid-autumn. And maybe you'd rather support a longtime, locally owned establishment rather than a corporation whose entire business model is to swoop in and inhabit the carcasses of all the stores that failed that year. Mardi Gras Costume Shop in Scottsdale is our go-to any time of the year; the tightly packed aisles represent endless dress-up possibilities. Mardi Gras rents costumes in addition to selling them, and if you're a theater professional or just really serious about your look, the store also offers professional-grade makeup. Whether you're looking to make a splash at a theme party or Halloween bash, Mardi Gras is your go-to costume destination.

Graf artists, DJs, MCs, and b-boys/b-girls would have to crisscross the Valley and hit up several places to pick up the various tools of their trade if Trill didn't have all of them under one roof. This one-stop shop for all aspects of hip-hop culture has been doing it and doing it and doing it well since 2018 with its lineup of supplies, streetwear, and music gear. Its spray-paint wall is stocked with MTN and Hardcore. Record mats and audio cables for your turntable are available, as are brands like Supreme and Anti Social Social Club in the clothing section. Trill reps the local hip-hop scene by hosting regular shows on its indoor stage and displays works by local artists. You might even run into a celeb during your visit; rappers like Kool Keith, Lord Finesse, and part-time Valley resident Ice-T have dropped by.

"Some things never change" can be a negative statement or a positive one, but when we're talking about Scottsdale Sidewalk Surfer, it's absolutely a good thing. This local retail mainstay has been outfitting and supplying chill dudes in the Valley since the late 1970s. Sidewalk Surfer has hundreds of boards in all sizes and styles, plus parts and accessories like wheels, bearings, grip tape, and stickers. The large apparel section caters to men, with brands like Volcom, Dickies, Billabong, and Sex Wax all well- represented. There's a small selection of roller-skates, and sneakers and sandals by labels such as Vans and Reef. The staff is welcoming, experienced, and passionate about skateboarding; you'll leave with exactly what you need to hit the street in style.

Take a hike, REI. The Arizona Hiking Shack ("locally owned since 1972") has been our go-to adventure store for literally decades. The place is heaven for hikers, mountain climbers, canyoneers, and explorers, packed with ropes and slings, all manner of outdoor gear, and plenty of guidebooks and topo maps. True to its name, the Hiking Shack has everything you could possibly need for any wilderness walk. But it really shines when outfitting for an extreme adventure. Tommy Caldwell could have racked up for the Dawn Wall here, no problem. Pro trip for adventure addicts: Get a higher credit limit before dropping in, because you're going to find a lot of what you want.

Best Of Phoenix®

Best Of