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THE VINTAGE ISSUE. This was a fun one, guys. To be clear, I literally love nothing more than putting together this magazine — my family, Boston terrier and bubbly libations excluded — but culling together vintage-themed content is like giving candy to a baby (for me, anyway).

My team and I spent a substantial amount of time whittling down all of the directions we could go with this theme, and we landed on two key components thriving in the District right now: vinyl and fashion. Vinyl shops in D.C. seem to have been one of the most resilient subsets of the local music industry during the past two years, with several dozen mainstays motoring on and even a few new spots popping up.

Chief among them is Byrdland Records, the brainchild of Songbyrd Music House’s Joe Lapan and Alisha Edmonson, which landed in Union Market District in late 2020. The couple and business partners have since relocated Songbyrd to the same area, taking root in Coconut Club’s former space. Byrdland is retro mecca for vinyl heads, full of funky furniture, an old-school listening booth, antique turntables, vintage speakers, a jukebox with a killer playlist, and walls of iconic titles and merch. Of course, we had to shoot the cover in this space. 

When it came to our cover subject, I knew we wanted to tap into the vintage fashion scene in D.C. Curators of retro style are the new tastemakers in the city, with brick-and-mortar consignment shops and frequent vintage-themed pop-ups in abundance. Stylists like Tiara Chameleon are making a name for themselves through an eclectic mix of styles from previous decades, and building collections for locals to rent or buy.

If you needed yet another reminder of how close-knit our creative community is in the District, we found out during our shoot with Chameleon at Byrdland that she had just sold items from her latest collection at a weekend pop-up featuring local curators at Songbyrd. We brought in photographer Mike Kim of Kimchi Photography, our favorite music nerd and avid concertgoer, to capture Chameleon in a range of looks highlighting ‘70s and ‘80s fashion.

I had an “a-ha” moment watching Kim perched atop a ladder in the center of Byrdland, his camera dangling precariously so he could get the perfect shot, with Chameleon lying on the floor beneath him surrounded by records we handpicked (we all agreed the “Jackie Brown” soundtrack and Grace Jones’ “I’m Not Perfect” were the clear winners).

It was one of those, “This is what it’s all about” moments, where I was reminded that I get to kick it with record store owners while a fashion stylist poses with special releases from some of my musical heroes. But more importantly, I get to lead a team of incredibly talented writers, editors, photographers, illustrators and creatives who helped me put together a 108-page issue featuring 40 vintage shops, 30 record stores and 20 retro curators, plus pieces on sustainable fashion, weird finds, street style, vintage expert tips and a vinyl collector’s guide.

We were also pumped to nab an interview with Leslie Odom Jr., local artists Too Free and Shaolin Jazz, mother-daughter fashion designers Dur Doux, jewelry designer Grace Yeboah Ofori and cinematographer Aaron Tucker. Plus, some insights into D.C.’s potpourri scene (if you know, you know), rock climbing 101, indie film with Suns Cinema, plant-based plates and much more.

We had so much fun delving into the city’s vintage scene for this issue, and we hope you enjoy reading all about it. And if you end up on a vinyl treasure hunt or vintage clothing spree based on our recs, shoot us a note on IG (@districtfray) and share your finds! 

Monica Alford