Meet The Vintage-Loving Ladies Of Trash Cat Clothing Collective

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If you're like us, you've probably got a winter wardrobe-revamp on the brain — which is why we're introducing you to the founders of Trash Cat Clothing Collective. These four local ladies — Sara Tenenbaum, Anna Wonson, Josie Torres Barth, and Zoe Pollock — are turning their passion for vintage clothing into a month-long pop-up at Pleasant Plains Workshop, and we're stoked to check it out.
The event kicks off tomorrow at Pleasant Plains Workshop — a shared art studio, gallery, and shop on Georgia Avenue — and on Thursdays through Sundays for the next month, you'll have the chance to shop the collective's handpicked wares or catch special events, such as a fashion show and a clothing swap. From high-waisted pants and worn-in cowboy boots to leather jackets, there's something (or a bunch of somethings) here to spruce up your wardrobe. We chatted with the founders about their personal style, inspirations, and how they find their perfectly pre-loved duds.
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How does the Trash Cat Collective work?
Pollock: "We spend our off-months gathering treasures from thrift stores from all our hometowns, and [find] stuff that doesn't quite work for us, but will hopefully make someone really happy. Then some kind institution hosts us and we get to share our finds! We want you to bring us your weirdly amazing thrift store castoffs and trade us for something you'll love and wear often."
Tenenbaum: "It's all very by-the-seat-of-the-pants. We collect our wares in our spare time — clothing, jewelry, purses, shoes, things that don't fit [size- or aesthetic-wise], but are too intriguing for us to simply leave behind — and then cobble it all together once a month for the public's pleasure. We typically appear only one night a month, which is why this month-long residency at Pleasant Plains is so exciting for us."
What was the initial inspiration for starting this project?
Pollock: "A couple of us lived in a group house in Columbia Heights, and the alley in the back was filled with kittens digging (adorably) in the trash. This turned out to be a very good metaphor for our aesthetic — a love of treasures hidden in unexpected places, a desire to reuse and recycle and find a loving home for all the lost souls in the world. That, and a friend of ours used to run the H Street Clothing Exchange at Sova — she'd roll her rack down the street from her house and set up shop, and we took over when she moved to New York."
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Where do you find your merchandise?
Pollock: "Vintage stores in our hometowns and some in the boonies of D.C. Also, from the amazing stuff that our fans have traded us over the past months."
Tenenbaum: "We're diggers, you know. A lot of the stuff we get is at the bottom of the clothing exchange pile, or the overflowing rack at the back of the thrift shop. Every thrift shop and Salvation Army store is full of treasures if you're willing to dig a little deeper and take a little longer looking through the racks."
What pieces do you typically look for?
Pollock: "I would say our tastes are pretty eclectic and specific to each of us, but we love unique pieces: the knee length skirt with galloping horses on it, the Hawaiian-print short red and yellow kimono. I'm a sucker for gold lamé and sequins, but we keep an eye out for the basics: a nice pair of leather boots, vintage oxfords, dramatic print retro dresses, pendant necklaces."
Tenenbaum: "For the shop, we really try to pick up as many varied pieces as possible, try to anticipate what a whole range of people might like. So we grab everything from crazy-patterned maxi dresses from the '60s to plaid shorts to vintage leather jackets. It's about knowing that what doesn't quite appeal to you might be perfect for someone else, and being willing to risk having something really crazy but really unique sitting and waiting for the right person to find it. Personally, I'm always in the market for any kind of leather jacket, vintage sweaters, and vintage jewelry."
Torres Barth: "Quality items that are versatile and will last through many wearings. The great thing about vintage is that the materials and the workmanship are so much better than what you can get if you spend a similar amount on something new from a chain store. If you find a piece that’s in good shape, chances are it will stay that way if you take good care of it."
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Any specific trends or looks you're scouting for now?
Pollock: "Fair Isle sweaters for the boys, graphic cigarette pants and a shorts suit for me, and I'm always on the hunt for vintage brocade."
Wonson: "Bright colors, capes, paisley, sexy Valentine's Day wear."
Tenenbaum: "Sgt. Pepper-ish coats for boys and girls, corduroy pants in fall/winter colors, super soft sweaters, gold (or 'gold') accents."
Torres Barth: "I’ve been wearing Peter Pan collars on everything for about a decade, and suddenly they’re in style again this season! I’ve always been the type to wear dresses and skirts 365 days a year, but I have a newfound interest in high-waisted slouchy pants. And this winter, I’m loving bright, warm colors like yellow and orange."
How does the swap work?
Pollock: "The swap works thusly: Bring us a couple (no more than five) pieces of your quirky, odd vintage, or just the basic staple that you don't wear enough and know someone else could get a lot of mileage out of. We'll pick out the stuff we want from the stuff you bring us and offer you a voucher to shop the shop. And check back often, as we'll be replenishing what's out on the floor."
What’s the craziest, most extreme vintage piece that you’ve come across so far?
Pollock: "Ah, so many good finds! We had a great high-waisted blue bikini that was pretty fabulous, but I think my current favorite is a shimmering gold pantsuit with super wide legs and a low neckline that came from a Christian thrift store called Willing Partners, in Independence, Virginia. Please come give her a good home."
Photos: Courtesy of Trash Cat Collective/Anna Wonson
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