The Rose Bowl Flea Market Returns

I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time. I’m pretty sure my wallet was fine with the pause though.

Also I took the image from this old Heddels article because I never take a cool picture of the Bowl.

As you guys know, the Rose Bowl Flea Market (one of the biggest in the country) is something I did nearly every month in the pre-pandemic times. Over the years it became pretty much my main source of buying vintage (especially as I got into milsurp and workwear), replacing my usual daily scourings of eBay and Etsy; it truly was one of my favorite menswear spots that I’ve been to in LA. Sure, it’s tougher to find things, but the hunt and ability to haggle made it more exciting; you could even measure and try things on yourself! It also has a social component, since you’re able to pick vintage with friends or get to know a couple of the recurring sellers. Its always a fun a time and something I looked forward to on the second Sunday of each month.

The pandemic killed flea markets for over a year, which actually was a pretty big deal for me. Cutting myself off from buying random chinos, indigo blankets, trinkets, vintage watches, and books allowed me to save up and increase my Alden collection; I even have enough to commission a custom suit! On the other side, it gave me open Sundays to do something new, which is why you’ve probably seen a lot of my random hangs at boba shops, parks, and Spencer’s pool. But now, the flea market has returned.

I was pretty excited as this was most likely the first real return to normalcy, especially LA gets more and more vaccinated. I woke up early and left the house around 9:30 after my girlfriend came over (I typically don’t bring dates to flea markets since I get lost in picking mode). I’m not sure what I expected, but the bowl was PACKED. Not only did it take us forever to find parking (circling around seemed endless), but for a pandemic world, it seemed just as full of people as it did before. I didn’t feel too unsafe, but it was certainly surreal to be around so many people.

My girlfriend and I ended up staying for a few hours, checking out the trinket side before walking across the bridge to all the clothing vendors. To my surprise, we actually didn’t buy too much: she ended up with a cool art book and I got a 1960’s chambray spearpoint shirt. This could be because I’ve been focusing on acquiring high quality shoes and tailoring, lessening my desire for odd vintage purchases that do add up. I mean once you have a good blue chore coat, jungle jacket, vintage 501s, and WWII chinos, you don’t really need more. Plus Pandemic has showed me that my heart lies in tailoring and if I want to have a more serious approach, I need to put the money where my mouth is.

There’s also the fact that the product demographics seem to have shifted. A year ago, there was about an equal number of vintage (meaning period) pickers of menswear and womenswear. This time, there was an incredible amount of streetwear sellers, offering up archival pieces, skatewear, graphic tees, and sneakers. You could even see that reflected in the street style present in at the flea. This isn’t a bad thing but this indieization of fashion is something to keep note of, especially as we watch where the direction of post-pandemic style is going.

With that said, the flea was still very fun and had lot of cool finds. Some, like two-tone 1950’s sweatshirts or stained chore jackets were quite expensive, but there were a few deals to be found. I don’t typically post photos of my flea market excursions, mainly because they tend to be quick phone snaps, but I decided to include a few pics here for your viewing pleasure, just so you can see what its like!

I sincerely hope that cases continue to go down and more people get vaccinated, because it would be great to bring this back as my typical Second Sunday outing. I’m sure Spencer would appreciate it, as he and my OC friends arrived too late when the Flea was capped for capacity!

My gf’s cool shirt and hat!

My flea market attire inspired again by 1930’s ski/hiking style.
This cotton jacket is similar to the L.L Bean sport vest, but is much more LA weather appropriate. It’s also a larger size and is significantly more comfortable to wear!
1940’s suede fringe jacket. Too small for me, but right for Isabel.
I know I said I didn’t want to buy much vintage anymore (to focus on tailoring and shoes), but this rayon gab westernshirt was mighty tempting.
Justin has a great shop!
Kosuke of Clutch Golf.
Handmade bags made from vintage fabric. Note the yearbook-esque signatures on the rightmost piece!

The groovy late 60s-70s vibe is hitting hard for Spring/Summer and I’m heavily considering finding some gold framed/yellow-tinted shades to go with it.
Another option.
1930s-1940s ski jacket.
Fur lined coat.
Doug and Albert representing typical LA flea attire, at least from the workwear/milsurp side. There was a Yuketen sample sale but there was nothing my size.
Vintage chore blazer. Probably pretty early.
I keep wanting to bring back the Hollywood jacket! This one is a bit big, but it has a great colorway and lacked shoulder pads.
We’re matching!
Absolutely gorgeous vintage sweater with some wide ribbing.
I almost bought these moc stitch split toe Florsheims, but the left pair had some serious scuffing. I’d rather just spend my money on shell Aldens.
Vintage Rocky Mountain Feather Bed jacket. It’s cool but I know I wouldn’t wear it much. The price was decent, though not justifiable for me to own it; I also don’t resell.
He gets two fit pics because he’s my film friend.

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget that you can support me (or the podcast) on Patreon to get some extra content and access to our exclusive Discord. I also stream on Twitch and upload the highlights to Youtube.

Always a pleasure,

Ethan M. Wong

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