It’s difficult enough to find new clothing in extended sizes, let alone vintage. Rudy Bleu started Big Boy Vintage specifically to help gents find stylish vintage clothes and accessories in the sizes they’re looking for. We caught up with him to discuss BBV and finding vintage gear for big men, his pop-up shop, and the upcoming launch party, taking place this Sunday at The Dog Show, in Los Angeles.
How did Big Boy Vintage come about?
I love shopping. Thrift shopping and going to garage sales, etc. I’ve accumulated lots of clothes over the years, and it’s really hard for me to just get rid of some of these things that I think are really cool or that I’ve put a lot of effort into finding, so I’d just hold onto it. I’d also find a lot of things that weren’t exactly my size, but I had to buy because they were cute or cool – always thinking “well, someone I know will wear it.” I was sitting at home one day and just decided that I’d start selling vintage clothes for big boys!
When you’re bigger, it’s a pain to find vintage stuff anywhere. A lot of the shops I’ve gone to, they look at you like you’re crazy when you ask if they have anything in extended sizes.
Going into a vintage store and trying to find something above L or 36 waist is ridiculous, and even size L is pushing it. I always thought that was really obnoxious and annoying. If they carried my size, I’d and other guys my size would shop there. I decided that since there wasn’t anything available, I’d start something and see what happens.
Why do you think it’s so hard to find clothing that you’d actually want to wear in sizes above large?
I think people don’t think it’s a market that they need to cater to. Because of that, a lot of big boys get creative and make their own clothing or alter things to work for them. People for some reason think there’s not an audience for it when there really is.
Tell us about your upcoming launch party / pop-up shop.
Sunday we are having our launch party, which is our first official introduction to Big Boy Vintage here in Los Angeles. It’s taking place at a store here called The Dog Show – the girls who run it are really cool and I like the shop a lot. I approached them with the idea of doing a pop-up store and a launch party because I wanted there to be an actual place for you to go and see the clothes in person and get it if you want it. We’ll be hanging out, and there will be music and the boys who have been modeling for me will be there. We’re doing limited edition cards for each of the models, in a sort of Teen Beat style, with sort of questionnaires on back so people can collect them or whatever.
I just wanted to have a party and have a space where people could get the clothing here in Los Angeles, and then take it from there. I want to start small and see where it goes – probably more pop-up shops and a clothing swap in the near future.
What kind of clothing can we expect to find at the pop-up shop?
We’ll have lots of button downs, shorts, pants, tons of sweaters, jackets, shoes, vintage bags, t-shirts from the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s – even some roller skates. We’ll have lots of stuff for the party and then we’ll keep inventory up in the shop for the following month. We’ll be posting on our facebook page each time new inventory goes up.
You’re doing some amazing photo shoots for the site – did that just sort of happen organically, or was it something you’d planned from the beginning?
That kind of just happened out of necessity. The video we did was planned – I wanted to do this cute summer video with these guys just having a day out in the sun. I asked friends of mine and we just did it. When we did the photo shoots, I really wanted people to see what we had available, and I wanted to see what the reaction would be. I threw a bunch of clothes on the kitchen table and let them choose their own outfits. We did the whole thing on my lawn. I can honestly say I was overwhelmed by the response we got from it.
I think people want to see more of this kind of thing. You look at most shops and stores, they’re not showing bigger models – guys who look like us. If you’re able to show that, I think you’ll get a good response. Not only are you doing that, but you’re having fun with it, and that makes such a difference.
Exactly! When I did these first shoots, I did them with my friends, but I want to do some that showcase different types of bodies. Fat dudes, muscle dudes, tall dudes, because that’s what Big Boy Vintage is about. It encompasses anyone above large.
What’s your next shoot going to be?
We’re going to be doing another shoot in Big Bear as soon as it snows. I want to do a sweater/jacket in the snow sort of thing. I think I’ll always be doing shoots. I’ve never been a photographer, but it seems to be working! I’ve been taking all these pictures myself and it seems to have worked so far.
What are your overall goals? Where do you see Big Boy Vintage in 3 to 5 years?
I’d love for there to be a Big Boy Vintage shop. There are so many things I’d like to happen with this project. The store would be a multi-use space, with readings, and bands playing and things like that.
You’re hoping to be able to start selling online. How far out do you think that is?
Hopefully before the holidays. I want to see how it goes over the next month at the pop-up shop. If the response keeps growing the way it has been, I’ll have no choice but to do the online store. I don’t want to rush into things, but it’s something I want to do.
Since you’re offering vintage clothing in sizes large and above, it can be harder to find things like that to sell. Do you think you’ll be able to keep a decent inventory as demand picks up?
Yeah. A lot of the things I started out with was stuff from my own closet, then I started getting things from friends. Once I had the idea for Big Boy Vintage, I started accumulating stuff before I even went public with it. So, I do have a good inventory, but I’m also on the search for new things almost constantly. Whenever I’m out, I keep an eye out, because you never know when you’re going to find something.
We talked about how it’s especially difficult to find vintage clothing in sizes above L. What sizes can people expect to find in the pop-up shop now?
There’s a lot of L through XXL, and a good amount of XXXL as well. I definitely plan to find more clothing in sizes XXXL and beyond. One of the difficult things is that the selection of clothing Big Boy Vintage offers is curated, so I’m not just buying something in XXL because of the size. It has to be something I’d actually want to wear if I’m going to sell it. It’s important to me to offer larger sizes, so I’ll be doing a lot more of that in the future.