1038 N. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90046
Hours: Tue – Sat 12-7p, Sun 1-5p
RNR: How long have you had the store, Filth Mart?
Maggie: My husband, Mike,opened Filth Mart in ’97 on East 13th street, between A & B (New York City).
RNR: What was the theme back then? Did it evolve into what it is now?
Maggie: It did evolve a little bit but, it was always the same thing; it was rock tees, jeans, old Levi’s, all that kind of good stuff. Filth Mart made vintage as a lifestyle-looking thing as opposed to kitschy vintage, like bowling shirts and the like. Filth Mart was denim jackets and trucker hat sorta parking lot, heavy metal look that was more obtainable to people.
RNR: So why did Filth Mart move locations? (To L.A.)
Maggie: He (Mike) was from here so, he had been in New York for a long time and wanted to come back and kinda hang with his parents. Also, the neighborhood we were in was completely gentrified in the wrong direction. And so we were going to have to relocate at the end of our lease anyway. So, we were going to have to go to a different area for sure and we just figured we would come to sunnier… places.
RNR: When did you enter the business?
Maggie: I was a stylist and I use to pull from Filth Mart. We just met and started hanging out and that was probably in like 2003, I wanna say, probably around that time.
RNR: What kind of styling were you doing?
Maggie: Same kind of thing (Maggie sits on the ground surrounded by cotton scraps, working on a cut up t-shirt for a client). I would do commercial stuff but, I was known specifically as someone who styled with vintage. That was my niche. Filth Mart is my full-time gig but we do have a styling service out of here; I mean, we’ll go and pull whatever you need from anywhere else. We style friends’ bands music videos or album covers. We’re kinda dialed into that whole thing. There’s a lot of different stylists that we send stuff to… I mean, I’m sending this to some little country girl that I don’t even know; it’s going to be on Jay Leno. We also do Filth Mart mobile type of things where, you know, we do music festivals. We did SXSW, we go to this other place in Marfa, Texas and just set up little mini-mash Filth Mart units. They’re really fun and it goes really well and we meet cool new people that want to know about us. It’s like these little curated crowds… we just did one in Nashville in June, and it was so cool and we had a really good time and had a really good welcoming from the people that were there and met some stylists and they were already like “Come on, Fed-Ex me a box”!
RNR: How often would you say you’re on the road?
Maggie: Not often, I mean, we’ve done like four… The Inspiration Show, SXSW, Marfa, Nashville, now we’re going back to Marfa in September and we’re going back to Nashville in December. The funny thing is we’re like, do it whole-haul or don’t do it at all, kind of thing. So we end up emptying the store and doing these bigger, grander things than we would normally.
RNR: So what do you do, pack up the store and rent a U’haul?
Maggie: We did a Winnebago once and then, the next time we did a Sprinter van.
(Mike steps into the store)
RNR: How long has your shop been open in Los Angeles?
Maggie: We opened here in 2007. When we first moved back here we just chilled.
Mike: Well, we did wholesale for the Japanese. They come every month. Every Friday before the Rose Bowl, they come and like, rush in!
RNR: Mike, how did you get started in vintage?
Mike: When I was a teenager I would buy second-hand Levi’s and bowling shirts. I lived in Huntington Beach and we would come up to L.A. and shop. When I moved to New York, I was going to school there, and I started working in this store, you know, “What Comes Around Goes Around”? Yeah, so this other store was just getting started and I would do the buying for them for like five or six years.
RNR: They would send you out on buying trips?
Mike: Yeah, on road trips and locally around Brooklyn and New Jersey in these warehouses. We would go through them and rummage around. Yeah, they paid us pretty good and we would get a commission if we found like a $1500 pair of jeans for $15.
RNR: And you eventually left there to start your own business?
Mike: Yeah, and at the time they may have not been happy because I did go to the places I had gone for them but, they had grown pretty big at that point. But, yeah, it was just time.
RNR: How long did you have your shop in New York?
Mike: From Dec. 1997 to Sep. 2004
RNR: I guess business was thrivin’?
Mike: Yeah, it wasn’t bad but, the neighborhood had been changing and we were gettin’ kinda tired of New York in general, how it was kind of changing so, we made the move out here.
RNR: When did you start getting into making t-shirts? (Mike does custom-design print shirts and posters that have a 60’s-psychedelic nostalgia).
Mike: We used to print on vintage t-shirts but we actually started making our own shirts about three years ago. There’s a limited amount of vintage at this point that’s not already in the hands of dealers that you don’t have to pay crazy amounts for.
RNR: Who does the artwork on the t-shirts you produce?
Mike: Either I do it or a combination of me and Kirk, if there’s photo-based stuff.
Maggie: (down from her pile on the floor) Or Maggie!
Mike: Sometimes a band will provide the art work, like Father John Misty, but I’ve also done a custom shirt for him.
RNR: I bet when you are at SXSW it provides great opportunity to promote your custom print business.
Maggie: Yeah, even some of the local businesses there will be interested, you know, like some little coffee shop.
RNR: What was the event out at Nashville all about?
RNR: Well, it looks like you guys have a lot of fun in here.
Mike: Yeah, usually our four-year old mascot (their son) is here banging on his drums.
RNR: What are your future plans/endeavors for the business?
Mike: Curating a kind of archive here selling some fashion but, really kind of pushing the new shirts, trying to make that grow. If I can continue to buy some crazy vintage for some of our really good customers and do all that is fine but, pretty much want to buy this stuff so I can stare at it and get some inspiration.
* Filth Mart has new styles of tees and henleys coming out this season, so watch for it!