Street View is a fashion series in which Isa Giallorenzo spotlights some of the coolest styles seen in Chicago.
Sasha Hodges, co-owner of the 80s/90s-centric vintage shop Kokorokoko, is one of my fave fashion personalities in town. She most definitely dances to the beat of her own new-wave-electro-synth-pop drum. On Sasha you’ll never see a shortage of funky prints, statement accessories, and unexpected shapes, such as her signature baggy, high-waisted pants. Which, by the way, illustrate one of her precious styling tips: Wanna bare your midriff? You don’t need the gym, you need high-waisted bottoms. I promise that trick will work with the chubbiest of bellies.
Read more words of sartorial wisdom in Sasha’s interview after the jump—and also take a peek at her rad store.
Kokorokoko co-owner Sasha Hodges was interviewed via e-mail.
Isa Giallorenzo: Where are you originally from? Why did you get interested in fashion?
Sasha Hodges: I grew up in the northeast close to Boston in a beach town with lots of houses from the 1600s. I can’t remember a time when I was not interested in fashion and clothing. My mother was superfrugal and only let us shop at Marshall’s and other discount stores, so I really never had anything “new.” She would take me to the consignment shop when they had “fill a bag day” and that would be my fall school clothes—I would steal my mother’s magazines and make giant collages from the editorials to decorate my room. I was superintrospective as a child and spent a lot of time alone creating fantasies built around items of clothing like my jelly shoes (which were magic) or a particular scarf that I would wear as a skirt or on my head as a turban. I was somehow always acutely aware of how clothing can change your persona and therefore affect relationships and power. I can’t imagine getting up and not considering what I will wear that day and choosing each piece carefully; it’s one of my favorite times of the day.
When did you open Kokorokoko? What concept did you have in mind?
The original concept of Kokorokoko as an 80s and 90s vintage boutique came about very quickly in 2008, when my business partner, Ross Kelly, and I realized there were no shops specializing in our favorite time period. We started collecting things and opened a couple of months later with a mixture of men’s and women’s casual clothing that reflected our personal styles. Contemporary designers have been pulling inspiration from the 80s and 90s real hard the past five years, so the store’s stock has evolved with the trends.
How would you describe the typical Kokorokoko customer?
Kokorokoko customers are the cool kids. They either know exactly what they want or arrive searching for some wild hidden treasure. Our online shop is a great place for people to find original fashion artifacts from the 80s and 90s and our brick-and-mortar is perfect for digging on those special pieces that are best appreciated in person. Kokorokoko style is eclectic, loud, and can be seen from five blocks away.
You work as a stylist as well. What are your best styling tips for the ladies, and for the dudes?
The number one style secret is confidence. Number two is cool shoes. If you’ve got those two things you’re doing better than 99 percent of the people. Every time someone says to me, ‘That looks great on you, but I could never pull it off,’ I’m like, ‘You can’t pull it off if you never put it on.’ If you like something just try it out. Clothes can change your life.
What do you love most about owning a vintage shop?
Every time I think I’ve seen it all, we come across another knockout piece. I love having a really wild piece and waiting for its rightful owner to walk in the door. Kokorokoko is a vintage shop where people can come and find what’s next.
What’s the best way to incorporate vintage into a look?
Style from various time periods is constantly revisited and incorporated into current fashions. It’s a fun game to try to name the influences on the runway or street corner. I think the best way to incorporate vintage is to know the original context. That way you can play with people’s expectations—which i think is what makes fashion so much fun.
Is Chicago really a great town for vintage shopping? How does it compare to NYC?
Vintage shopping here gets better every year, with new shops sourcing every era opening up across the city. There are several solid shopping destinations in Wicker Park, Pilsen, and Andersonville. Chicago is great because it is a place where people are born and stay, taking what they have and reinventing it. On the coasts people arrive with expectations hoping to start fresh. In the midwest people are free to mine the past and reimagine it.
What’s your favorite item at Kokorokoko right now?
My personal favorite things are bootleg or faux designer items that copy the original so poorly that they become something entirely new. That being said, I also love a unique designer piece with all their artistic quirks. Right now I’m really into this Claude Montana seafoam-green coat. It can be worn a couple of ways and has a really odd closure. I love the 80s proportions in the coat, the drop waist and rounded oversized shoulders. It’s the type of coat that is an outfit all in itself.
Kokorokoko, 1323 N. Milwaukee, 773-252-6996, kokorokokovintage.com
See more Chicago street style in the Chicago Looks blog.