In January 2021, Laura Simmons took her lifelong love for all things old and decided to share that love with Fort Worth.
He opened the 47-year-old Studio 74 Vintage, a vintage clothing store specializing in coordinated pieces created mostly before the 1980s. Since opening the store, Simmons has been featured in Fort Worth Magazine, has collaborated with Justin Boot Company on a clothing campaign and has featured her outfits in chic mugs as Western Wedding, Cowgirl, Cowboys, and Indians. The clothes are beautiful, but the excitement of Studio 74 Vintage runs deeper than the bespoke collection.
Strolling the Simmons Store is to take a walk through the history of Fort Worth.
On clothing shelves and racks, the store is at 4908 Camp Bowie Blvd. Featuring thousands of unique vintage items carefully curated by Simmons. The walls are lined with historic Fort Worth pieces – Fort Worth Cats baseball shirts, Panther City jackets are embellished with tiger heads, and classic cowboy boots of various shades and sizes. Even clothing tags, which indicate the decade and often the location the item originated from, read as a love letter to Fort Worth history.
“Fort Worth is where culture and cowboys mix,” Simmons said. “I don’t want to be anywhere other than Fort Worth.”
Simmons has always been an old soul.
She grew up in a historic home in Fort Worth, and her older siblings and parents taught her to cherish vintage music, cars, and clothes. Her parents were an integral part of the Fort Worth community – her mother ran a beauty salon on the North Side, and her father attacked the Fort Worth Cats while playing at North Side High School.
In her spare time, Simmons collected antiques, old ceramics, and old household items. I opened a kiosk in Benbrook Antique Mall in 2018 that grew bigger and bigger until I started looking for a more permanent location. When she moved to open her own store, her focus shifted to collecting vintage clothes.
Of the old clothes, she said, “Something has started in me that I can’t let go of.” “I need to save them.”
The new luxury
In 2019, Simmons retired from her 25-year career with law enforcement and set up shop in a red-brick mall on Camp Bowie Boulevard.
On a warm December day, Simmons—clad in baggy ’70s jeans, snakeskin boots, and a mustard yellow jacket adorned with an ’80s leopard gold pin — was carried between clothing racks filled with colorful ’70s blouses, ’50s prom dresses and wallets It is decades old. She talked about her plans to bring the store back over the holidays—new floor, new paint, and a website where people can shop some of her old collection. The store’s popularity has grown over the past year, and Simmons said she’s even seen some notable faces around the store, including Leon Bridges, native to Fort Worth.
If national trends are any indication, Simmons’ success will likely continue.
“As they say, booze is the new luxury,” Simmons said.
Vintage clothes have become increasingly popular in the past couple of years. According to Vogue, a focus on sustainability, environmentally conscious spending and a decrease in shopping during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic have all played a role.
“Vintage fashion is very sexy and kind of fast-moving,” Simmons said. “Vintage is like an investment in your closet. Since it has been improved, it will stand the test of time. If it has really lived that long, its chances of living for another 20-30 years are good.”
Simmons said that unlike most new clothes, old clothes don’t lose value after you buy them. A jacket from the 60s will likely only increase in value if it stays in the closet for years, unlike most clothes from department stores or online stores.
Simmons said the wines’ unique quality is in high demand, too.
“I bet you can’t pinpoint ten items you bought at Target or the mall last year,” she said. “Because it’s forgettable.”
Many of Simmons’ clothes come from people who have finally gone through the piles of family antiques that have gathered dust over the years. People carry garbage bags and handbags full of old clothes from grandmothers, and they rarely visit the attics.
“Rarely does a day go by when someone doesn’t walk through the door and sell me something,” Simmons said.
Simmons said that for people who don’t know what else to do with relatives’ belongings, letting their clothes wear them can mean a lot.
“For me, I think for this person and their kids who are selling these things, they appreciate that it’s going to a good home,” she said.
Word of mouth has increased the number of people who come to her to sell, but Simmons still works in her shop. She’s looking at real estate sales, and will drive for hours early in the morning to be first in line at a good sale. And of course, she never neglects other local stores.
“I’m still frugal in my heart,” she said. “I will hit the goodwill and thrift stores on a weekly basis. Sometimes several times a day.”
clothes with history
When shopping at Studio 74 Vintage—usually open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.—one might come across an item of clothing with a floral tag that says, “I belong to someone special, Ask him about me.”
The Simmons collection includes and includes clothing intertwined with North Texas history. She bought and sold dresses that were worn by Priscilla Davis – the second wife of Colin Davis, who was accused of murdering Priscilla Davis’s daughter and attempting to kill Priscilla Davis in the 1970s. A man sold her clothes that Van Cleburne’s mother was wearing. In 1962, Fort Worth began the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, which attracts pianists from all over the world.
Simmons bought nearly the entire wardrobe of James “Maggie” Megellas – a World War II veteran who is considered one of the most highly regarded combat officers in history. Miguelas lived in Colleville from about 2009 until his death in 2020. Most recently, a woman sold her a jacket belonging to Spanky McFarland. The inside of the jacket reads that it was tailored to the Little Rascals star, who was born in Dallas.
Even clothes without a private label belong to someone, and that anonymous history is what brings Simmons back to old clothes again and again.
If you ask her to pick a favourite, she stops.
“It would be like choosing one of my favorite children,” she said.