SlapBack in Style


By Tanya Silverman

Photo by Tanya Silverman.

A hoppin’ parking hub for vintage cars or a rockin’ venue for rockabilly bands are but some of the functions that SlapBack serves.

Though when I stop by the Brooklyn boutique on a causal Sunday, SlapBack resumes its retail atmosphere, selling rockabilly, pin-up, and vintage apparel along with accessories. Sitting in the back of the shop on a comfy crimson couch surrounded by leopard spotted drapes and collaged black-and-white pin-up pictures, I chat with owner Renee DiDio about her curatorial techniques.

To cherry pick through ‘50s and ‘60s reproduction garments–along with some selections of authentic vintage–DiDio looks for what serves women of all shapes and sizes. She cares for all patrons to find a piece that compliments them, and fuller-figured ladies can sure look lovely in the retro cuts. Different looks for different lifestyles are considered, whether they are for the NYC burlesque crowd, visiting tourists, or local teachers shopping for a dress that’s professional during the day yet playful at night.

Photo courtesy of SlapBack.

Some dresses are plain-colored, plaid, or polka dot, while others have kitschy prints, like bright bats on black or a medley of cartoonish carnival rides on pink. Standards are stocked, like petticoats, hair flowers, nylons, and fishnets.

To add a different flavor this fall, DiDio’s reaching into the realm of gothic pin-up.

“I will have a lot of black and deep jewel tones coming in,” she describes. “I’m steering away from the standard red lipstick and more into the deep purples and almost-blacks.”

DiDio decorates using relics of her kin like a James Dean version of Boulevard of Broken Dreams that used to hang in her grandfather’s restaurant for 30 years. Family influence is essential to SlapBack’s story. DiDio remembers starting to dress in vintage growing up from her grandmother’s closet and getting into rockabilly music from listening to the radio in her dad’s car–not to mention how she and her dad built the store from the ground up.

“We ripped out bars, we ripped out plumbing, we did everything,” she describes. The gritty, strenuous scene is slightly hard to envision given the current scenery that’s accessorized by pretty pumps and pearl necklaces.

Eventually DiDio would like to open another SlapBack, and keep the Brooklyn location as the flagship of the franchise, to pursue her efforts in niche fashion preservation into the future.