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Shopping in L.A. with Jesse Thorn

8/14/13 1:51 PM

The remainder of our day will be spent waist-deep (if we're lucky) in used clothes. Thorn has agreed, though I later realize it's much to his benefit, to take us shopping at a few of his "special" thrift stores. "Over half of what I own comes from these places," he tells me. Somehow I imagined a more glamorous world, one where gently used Ralph Lauren Purple Label, Brioni, and Brunello Cucinelli suitings rubbed elbows freely. In fact we are at a Goodwill—a decidedly still Goodwill. But watching Thorn work, I get the sense I've misjudged. "What are you, a size 38, 40?," he asks, looking me up and down. "Yeah, you're good," I said. "No, I'm just making sure we're not the same size." I hang back. He returns moments later with a perfectly unscathed pair of New Balances. "In 10 years, I've never bought a pair of sneakers before. Today is the day," he says. A small band of transients, single mothers, and children spend more time tracking his movements than they do shopping. Thorn is swift, exacting, only stopping to remove something from the rack if it meets the touch. "Pull at this coat. See how rough it feels?" Where amateurs rely on spotting brand labels, a mostly deceptive and inaccurate methodology, Thorn studies the garment. "I guarantee this isn't real Yves Saint Laurent," he tells me. Opening the jacket, he shows me the lining, revealing a stitched label with a large department store's insignia. "This was made for them by these guys. Not the same thing." But more often than not, he does well. "One time I came here and a guy had donated his entire wardrobe of Oxxford suits, the best ready-to-wear suits in the United States," he tells me. "These suits cost $4,000, the kinds that super rich CEOs wear. Famously, Rod Blagojevich had an entire wardrobe of them. Sometimes somebody just donates a bunch of great clothes—I bought ten," he says. He lifts a shirt, motioning it towards my face. With some hesitancy, I'm hunched over his arm with my lips in a full smooch as Thorn grazes a button against my mouth "When it feels cold, you can tell it's not plastic. Mother of pearl. High quality stuff." On more than one occasion Thorn gives me a handout. "Here, you live up north. I wish I could wear sweaters all year round," he says as I gladly take a red Brooks Brother sweater out of his possession. Following him around a thrift store, you feel as though you're being given a private tour of a very secret world. file:///Users/issuu/Desktop/Shopping%20in%20L.A.%20with%20Jesse%20Thorn.webarchive

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Shopping in L.A. With Jesse Thorn  
Shopping in L.A. With Jesse Thorn