If you’re a vintage lover, few shopping experiences come close to the thrill of uncovering a gently used designer find at a consignment store. Plenty of such secondhand treasures await at Washington’s newest vintage mecca, Blue’s Hard Goods, located in a second-floor space along the 14th Street corridor. Sound familiar? You might already be acquainted with this brick-and-mortar store—it’s the former Rue 14 space, renovated and reincarnated.
And while the sign outside may still read Rue 14, very little remains of the contemporary designer boutique that carried the likes of Marc Jacobs, Free People, and Gant. Instead, the store now offers rare denim brands, fringed leather jackets, and Victorian gowns in a conceptual hybrid that feels like part shop, part museum.
“In transitioning over to Blue’s Hard Goods, I decided to keep the denim but trade in the current for the past. So ‘Blue’s’ is for the jeans we carry, and ‘Hard Goods’ covers everything else,” says Andrew Nguyen, owner of Rue 14-turned-Blue’s Hard Goods, about his decision for a complete store makeover.
After reconnecting last summer with his old friend Tara Papanicolas, who was then in the process of launching an online vintage store, and later with Dafna Steinberg, an artist whom he commissioned to create an installation for the new store, Nguyen knew he’d found his retail soul mates.
Nguyen invited the women to collaborate with him on a retail space that would offer collections spanning from the 18th century to present day. Papanicolas’s vision became Los Gitanos, a vintage collection inspired by Victorian era and 18th-century fashion, while Steinberg brought a Southwestern flair to the store with I Found That Vintage, a line inspired by ’80s fashion, old Westerns, and Americana heritage. Nguyen added a collection of high-quality Japanese denim to the mix, and Blue’s Hard Goods was born. “I feel like anyone who comes in here will be able to find something that suits them or that can make them happy,” says Nguyen.
With plans in the works for Western movie screenings, late-night shopping, trunk shows, and music events, you will see a lot more of Blue’s Hard Goods this summer. But in the meantime, click through the slideshow for a look at the newly transformed shop, plus scoop from the three curators on what to expect.
Blue’s Hard Goods. 1803A 14th St., NW; 202-462-6200.