A Tale of Two Conventions: Vintage Pittsburgh and Steel City Con

From the Past: Vintage Pittsburgh

By: George Flynn | Opinions Editor

(Fred Blauth / The Duquesne Duke) - Lindsay Kress, a Pittsburgh vintage clothing collector, decides to sell her wares for the first time.

(Fred Blauth / The Duquesne Duke) – Lindsay Kress, a Pittsburgh vintage clothing collector, decides to sell her wares for the first time.

Why buy new clothing and items from corporations when you can find one-of-a-kind pieces that were already lived in?

On April 12, The Senator John Heinz History Center hosted the Pittsburgh Vintage Mixer Spring 2014 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The history center’s fifth floor hosted over 20 vendors including popular Pitttsburgh vintage shops Highway Robbery and East End Book Exchange. Along with this, many of the vendors consisted of Pittsburgh locals who run vintage stores through the online marketplace Etsy.

The event was planned by Bess Dunlevy of Castle Shannon and owner of Etsy store, Red Pop Shop.

Dunlevy offered her views on vintage style and the event itself.

“I think there is a philosophy of what is old is new. This event is about community, local shops, conversation and nostalgia, something we can all connect with,” Dunlevy said.

The community that Dunlevy mentioned was apparent upon entering the history center. Almost two dozen vendors were crowding the space, creating a chaotic atmosphere with all the shoppers. The room was full of gorgeous vintage clothing across different eras, from pill box hats reminiscent of 1960s Jackie O. to ‘90s boots echoing grunge bands like Nirvana.

However, the most eye-catching items were the vintage household items such as glass salt shakers and kitchen pots, board games, books and of course, vinyl.

It’s quite obvious that vintage household items are starting to come into high demand, but why?

Summer Newhouse, owner of Etsy store, Kermit Tuesday thinks the high demand for vintage has a deeper meaning than aesthetic.

“I really think the big part of this resurgence in vintage, is because of the idea of buying locally and reducing. We’re trying to be conscious with what we buy and reduce,” Newhouse said.

(Fred Blauth / The Duquesne Duke) - Vintage threads from South Side shop Highway Robbery.

(Fred Blauth / The Duquesne Duke) – Vintage threads from South Side shop Highway Robbery.

Instead of simply buying by brand, make conscious decisions to purchase used items, as it is important to reuse things and reduce on manufactured goods. After all, vintage items and clothing are more durable than many of the present day items today. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be here today.

“A lot of people are getting tired of stores. Companies make throwaway clothes. Vintage clothing is special and has a longevity,” said Alexandra Flynn, owner of Etsy store, Alicks and Rafflin. “They have been around for so long, they were made so well.”

Vintage clothing and apparel brings us back to a nostalgic time in our lives, but purchasing these items does so much more. It makes us more conscientious of our surroundings and brings new purpose to items that went out of use or style.

“I appreciate that it is coming back. I’m glad that the youth is enjoying these styles. It’s important to reuse things and appreciate them,” Newhouse said. “Everyone should wear and use vintage.”

To the Future: Steel City Con

By: Aaron Warnick | Photo Editor

(Aaron Warnick / Photo Editor) - Stormtrooper 2K6794 of the 501st Legion was one of the many attendees who donned costumes for the event.

(Aaron Warnick / Photo Editor) – Stormtrooper 2K6794 of the 501st Legion was one of the many attendees who donned costumes for the event.

This isn’t your Dad’s sci-fi convention.

At the 2014 Steel City Con, held April 11 through 13, the next generation of fanatics boldly took their place alongside the nerds of yester-year. The Timelords outnumbered the Klingons by a staggering amount, though a small squadron of Stormtroopers could out-dance them both at Monroeville Convention Center.

Yes, dancing Stormtroopers. What convention would be complete without a few?

The Garrison Cardia of the 501st Legion, a Star Wars group that dons the white Stormtrooper armor for conventions and community events, marched the center aisle alongside survivors a la The Walking Dead and Marvel comic heroes like Thor and Captain America.

While these types of conventions are traditionally reserved for fans of popular sci-fi series, Steel City Con catered to a wider audience. From Minecraft to The World of Warcraft, Steel City Con brought in vendors, artists and celebrities to cover all of your nerdy needs.

And that’s the way the wind is blowing.

“Being a nerd is no longer just Science Fiction oriented,” said Morgan Bohart, social media coordinator of Nerdburgh. “You can be nerdy about your television shows, summer blockbusters, tabletop games, video games and so many more things.”

(Aaron Warnick / Photo Editor) - Stickers and magnets made from Perler beads representing some of the many fandoms that attended the convention.

(Aaron Warnick / Photo Editor) – Stickers and magnets made from Perler beads representing some of the many fandoms that attended the convention.

Nerdburgh is a local podcast and blog site dedicated to keeping yinz informed on all things nerd. Morgan, an avid Whovian (fan of BBC’s Doctor Who), believes that the diversity in fandoms has allowed for a rapid growth in conventions like Steel City Con.

“Conventions in general have definitely become more socially acceptable and celebrated over the last few years compared to their predecessors,” Bohart said. “Gone are the days of seas of Jedis, Klingons and Red Shirts. Hollywood now embraces so many more fandoms.”

And while Steel City Con is as progressive as the next convention, that doesn’t mean that the foundations of nerd-dom weren’t represented.

The crew of the USS Inferno, commanded by Captain George, had a recruitment table at the convention. The team represents one of the local chapters of Starfleet International, the largest organized Star Trek fan club.

“It’s more than just being fans of a show,” Rear Admiral Debbie French claimed, “sure we all meet because we love Star Trek, but we also share in the philosophy of peace and harmony that [Star Trek creator] Gene Roddenberry put into his universe.”

What do you think? Leave us a comment!