Streetwear is Becoming Not-So-'Unavailable' How CONSIGNMENT pop-up shops are changing the face of Fashion in ottawa

A fold-up table overflows with designer sneakers: the wall above it lined with two hundred dollar t-shirts. The 'Unavailable' Pop-Up Consignment Shop won't accept your dated jewelry or rusty silverware. Instead, they buy and sell items of the streetwear variety, in hopes of changing the face of today's most coveted trends.

Streetwear has been around for decades. Conceived from the laid-back and functional roots of Californian skate and surf culture in the late 1970’s, it has evolved in to a powerhouse in the fashion industry. Celebrity-endorsed and the epitome of urban trend, streetwear labels like Supreme, Stüssy, Anti Social Social Club, and Palace are thriving amidst a climate that demands their products.

Streetwear junkie’s hunger for these coveted brand names has resulted in an increasing sense of exclusivity. Prices on limited items have skyrocketed because people are willing to pay- all for the chance to rock the brands that establish the credibility of their carefully-selected ensemble.

Most major cities worldwide have taken to the streetwear trend. Even Canadian capitals such as Toronto and Vancouver has prominent streetwear communities, holding events to buy and sell rare pieces, and opening consignment shops and boutiques to better circulate the streetwear culture.

However, Ottawa is not one of these cities. Those involved in Ottawa’s industry are often found discussing how the city is strictly ‘political’ and any attempt at hammering through the thick concrete of skirt suits and briefcases would be hopeless.

The lack of an established streetwear network convinced a small but mighty group of young streetwear lovers to chip away at the Ottawa scene’s icy exterior.

Trevor Oliveira, Curtis Wagner, and James Snell spearheaded the idea for the 'Unavailable' Consignment Pop-Up Shop, as fashion-lovers and longtime Ottawa residents. Wagner, having ran a similar event in Montreal, decided to take a chance on the Ottawa market.

For three weeks prior to the April 1-2nd event, the group invited members of the public to drop off their rarest and most valuable streetwear items.

After relentless promotion on social media outlets such as Instagram and Facebook, the day of the pop-up shop arrived. Oliveira says the turnout was overwhelming.

“We didn’t know how people were going to respond, but the turnout of this speaks to how interested the community is,” says Oliveira. “Events like this are new to the city, but they open the door for more permanent locations.”

Shopper BJ Owolabi admires rare streetwear at the pop-up shop

Oliveira says that though the streetwear community in Ottawa is not booming, he certainly believes it is growing.

“It’s young," he says. "We have 12-year-old kids coming in and buying thousand dollar sneakers. That just shows that the youth of the culture is going to make it grow.”

Local streetwear boutique owner Naj Peterson says he believes in the growth of Ottawa’s streetwear community as well. His Bank Street shop, Stomping Ground, was the venue for this weekend’s ‘Unavailable’ Pop-Up Consignment Shop.

"Until now you really had to go online, or go to other cities to get the kind of pieces that these guys are selling today," says Peterson. "It's awesome seeing how excited everybody is, and being able to be a part of it."

For Peterson, pricy consignment shops are the future of streetwear.

"These shops are becoming a really big element of streetwear culture," he says. "It's all about supply and demand, and if an item is very exclusive it's going to command a high price.

Customers visiting the pop-up shop are excited at what this means for Ottawa's streetwear community. Jakob Manitacos and Max Loghrin have been waiting for a shopping opportunity like this one. For them, the prices at today's event were reasonable.

"It was a much more organic experience than going to a retailer with a bunch of re-sellers for inflated prices" says Maniatacos.

Loghrin agrees. " Seeing a lot of used stuff that people have worn and loved and then passed on for a fair price is so cool to see," he says.

Maybe it's the allure of what one cannot have that makes exclusive streetwear so appealing. Or maybe it's the community atmosphere that arises when sneaker-heads and fad followers come together and talk shop. Whatever the reason, Oliveira and his team says they hope that the 'Unavailable' Pop-Up Consignment Shop will ignite a "streetwear revolution" in Canada's capital.

A few sought-after items for sale at the 'Unavailable' Pop-Up Shop

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