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Denim Collectors and Street Style Return to the Rose Bowl Flea Market

The Rose Bowl Flea Market in Los Angeles, a hot spot for thrifted denim, reopened on Sunday after being cancelled for a year due to the coronavirus—and denim heads came out in force. From die-hard collectors and indigo aficionados, to casual browsers looking for special pieces to update their pandemic wardrobe, the flea welcomed some of L.A.’s most stylish shoppers.

One pandemic trend captured the essence of a lazy Sunday: overalls. The workwear-inspired one-piece catapulted back onto consumers’ radars last summer when quarantine hobbies like gardening gained steam and the Cottagecore aesthetic seized the women’s market.

Though flea market goers embraced a variety of overalls—including railroad stripes, baggier fits and styles adorned with racing stripes—they commonly styled them with basic white tops and Converse sneakers.

While few skinny jeans were seen on the grounds, there were inklings of the next Y2K fashion trends to watch. Young shoppers stepped out in low-rise bottoms, like baggy chinos and faded jeans. Crop tops emphasized the low waistline. Meanwhile, relaxed-fit jeans were seen shredded and destroyed, cargo pants were worn baggy and wide-leg jeans were personalized with DIY details.

Contrary to the city’s laidback style, there was also a strong presence of raw denim, heritage styling and double-denim looks. Men wore fitted jean jackets, broken-in straight-fit jeans and jeans with deep turn ups. Personal style shined through items like worn-in boots, bandana-printed face masks, retro T-shirts and felted hats that added rockabilly and Western vibes.

For more than 50 years, the Rose Bowl Flea Market has carved out a reputation as hallowed ground where denim heads can unearth vintage jeans and other rare indigo gems. Prior to the pandemic, the flea was held every second Sunday of the month in Pasadena, attracting roughly 20,000 shoppers and 2,500 vendors each month.

Though the flea is held outdoors, its size and large crowds were prohibited by state and city coronavirus protocols until now. Last Tuesday, L.A. moved to California’s orange tier, which signifies a “moderate risk.” In this tier, capacity restrictions have been completely lifted for stores with safety procedures in place and outdoor businesses like amusement parks and live event venues, such as the Rose Bowl, may reopen with limited capacity.