A perfect marriage of city fashion, music, and art, Community 54 continues to be the thriving hub of an urban nostalgia movement that now spans New York to Toronto. Originally located behind an arcade—a fitting entrance for a vintage shop—the new location at #186 Avenue B undeniably fills a central space in New York City’s massive landscape of high-end vintage shops and innovative boutiques. Perhaps best known for their affiliations with A$AP Rocky and other popular figures central to a new age of New York City hip-hop, the shop boasts a number of incredible finds—from high-end Japanese wear to locally-made pieces—all the while striking an impossibly fresh nostalgia-driven aesthetic. We spoke to Community 54 about their come-up, the theory behind their ‘90’s-ish aesthetic, and what’s due for them in the coming months.
Erick: What was your guys’ inception story—how’d you come about?
Comm54: We are a vintage movement—I mean we’ve been buying, selling, trading vintage clothes for years, and out of that we opened the store and then the brand came into working from that as well.
E: If you were to describe the brand in a few words. Could you? And how would you describe the brand?
C54: We are inspired by creative nostalgia, and a lot of our viewpoint is—inspirations come from the 90’s but, you know, an updated version. We basically take some concepts from the glory days of hip-hop and then look to what’s happening now.
E: How does Community 54 marry music, fashion and art together?
C54: I mean, music and fashion go and in hand, they always have. Obviously a lot of the entertainers set most of the trends and now the fashion designers do as well. There’s a ton of collaborations going back and forth [between music and fashion]. For us, you know, we’re known for some of our past events with A$AP Rocky, Soulja Boy and Chris Brown. That gave us our notoriety in Asia, Japan, Korea, those types of places. We continue to be inspired by a lot of New York musicians, and music coming out of Toronto as well.
E. What do you think draws these artists to you? Is it a mutual appreciation, or is it there a specific draw to them?
C54: It all happens naturally. Most of the artists that we get behind are either pretty unknown or just coming up, but we have been blessed to all come up together. We started this concept in 2011 and a lot of this music sort of cultivated around that time, so it was really—it happened naturally. It wasn’t any grandiose master plan. It was just that a lot of the artists and people we were hanging with at that time are now doing amazing things, so we’re blessed to be a part of that.
E: For the first-time intrepid shopper, do you have any advice for like a basic must-have piece or how to approach shopping there?
C54: Yeah, we’re definitely known [for] when we do a “Rap” piece on a snapback, on hoodies, which are handmade, and also long sleeves for Champion. Any of our “Rap” pieces are really popular. And currently we’re doing a pop-up with a brand that’s homemade in Japan called Prps—premium denim. We currently have their full collection in stock. So for people that are into high end Japanese denim, we have probably the best selection in New York currently.
E: Do you see any up-and-coming spring trends you want to speak on?
C54: Yeah, I mean I think you’ll definitely see an all-black, tonal black, tonal white, geometric shapes are going to be big coming into spring. As well as mixed media prints—plaids, camos, and different wild prints that you don’t normally see together.
E: Any other tips for touching base with Community 54?
C54: I would say definitely check out website, Community54.com, and our blog on there, it’ll give you a good viewpoint for what we’re interested in and what we’re up to. Also our Instagram, Twitter, Facebook is all under Community 54 as well, and we do our best to post new stuff all the time. And, as well, when you’re in New York (or our location in Toronto), please come through one of our retail locations. We switch up the inventory and art monthly so there’s always something new to see in both the New York and the Toronto locations.