Tucked between a bustling cafe and some seemingly never-ending construction cones, the tiny gem Harold and Maude Vintage is easy to miss. But don’t be deceived by its understated exterior; while small, inside the boutique boasts some of the most interesting, gorgeous, and affordable vintage finds in New York.
Mami Nagase and her partner, Ryoma Hashimoto, co-founded the store in 2014, after successfully selling pieces at pop-ups around Long Island City and the Lower East Side.
Nagase moved from Osaka, Japan to New York in 2003 and began working at 10 Ft Single by Stella Dallas, the vintage store she still treasures as one of her favorite spots to find unique pieces, in 2007. By the time she left 10 Ft in 2013, she’d amassed quite the collection for herself.
Garments hanging inside Harold and Maude include everything from shimmery '20s gowns to '50s cheerleading sweaters to authentic military apparel.
“I like unusual pieces, one of a kind… my favorite is 1900 to '60s costume,” she tells us. And unusual the pieces are: there’s faux-zebra fur, black-fringed jackets, as well as dazzling blue sequin-encrusted crop tops. The diverse selection is thanks to Nagase and Hashimoto’s dedication to searching far and wide across the nation, for the coolest finds.
“10 Ft Single by Stella Dallas, where I used to work, has a huge collection of vintage clothing,” Nagase explains. “We also love garage sales, flea markets and any estate sales.”
The eclectic style of the store reflects Nagase’s role models in fashion: “Iris, Michael Jackson, Grace Jones, the movie characters of Wes Anderson. I get inspired by all crazy people.”
The pair’s favorite thing about owning a vintage store, Nagase explains, is it “feels like I’m with the history of culture.”
She concludes: “Crazy customers are very welcome. I don’t like the border line between men’s and women’s clothing. Men can wear dresses and women can wear bow ties!!”
Harold and Maude is located at 592 Lafayette Ave in Bed-Stuy, and is open 12-7 every day, but closed Tuesdays.