A spotlight on a great local business.
Since I began my extended deep dive into the world of clothing, Midwest Trader has been one of my favourite brick and mortar sources for interesting vintage gear.
There’s always something different on the racks, which makes for a unique and varied experience every time.
Midwest is run by Kate and her partner Jad, having occupied a space in the East End’s Ebenezer Place since 1992.
They’ve built exactly the kind of vibe I think of when picturing the perfect atmosphere for an Americana-influenced store.
It’s the kind of world you’d expect to see coming from the mind of Ralph Lauren.
Walking in greets the eyes with a log cabin style, complete with fireplace.
Perfect for warmth in the winter, and it remains a lovely visual cue in the summer.
Everywhere the eye can see, all sorts of interesting memorabilia adorns the walls, and the racks.
Being influenced most by Americana, the racks are often populated with American vintage staples.
Western shirts, denim jackets, cowboy boots, rugby shirts, workwear (prominently Carhartt and Dickies), bandanas, bolo ties, band/motorcycle tees and a number of articles from the archives of Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger are all regulars on the racks at Midwest.
Seasonal sightings include overalls, winter jackets, military surplus coats, sweaters, spray jackets, leathers and all manner of other garments.
Midwest is also a source for some unique brand new items at various stages throughout the year.
They are SA’s sole authorised dealer for Red Wing boots, so if you’re a local and after a pair of iconic Iron Rangers, they’re your first stop.
Some other brand new items that can be found at Midwest include ornate, intricately detailed rodeo shirts from Rockmount Ranch Wear, Harrington jackets from the English brand Relco and brand new workwear items from the likes of Carhartt and Dickies.
The shop itself is somewhat of a living history.
There are some iconic pieces adorning the shop, including unique guitars, neon signs, and a vintage Indian motorcycle.
The motorcycling heritage is strong here, with Jad being a motorcyclist himself and owning a number of two wheeled machines.
Midwest Trader also hosts the South Australian leg of the annual Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride most years (Covid having posed a temporary halt this year), which I attended last year.
Something that piqued my interest was a matching set of Levi’s 501XX denim jacket and pants.
They had an interesting story behind them;
a gentleman once came in looking to sell the pair, having bought them brand new in San Francisco during the 1950s, and never ended up wearing them because he bought the wrong size.
They hung in his wardrobe for decades, without so much as the paper tags taken off.
Now they hang in the store for curious eyes to see, a fascinating relic of past times.
When quizzed about the coolest items that had come through the business in nearly thirty years of trading, the 501XX pair was one of Kate’s initial mentions, in addition to an original iteration of the Paul Simonon Lightning leather jacket by Lewis Leathers.
There was a hint of regret about that one having sold.
Such regrets are part of the life of a clothing collector and trader – if we kept everything we thought was awesome, we’d all need our own personal warehouses.
I’ve acquired a few neat pieces for my own wardrobe from the racks at Midwest over the past couple of years.
These include a vintage Italian military surplus belted coat, a neat tooled Western belt, a khaki denim Wrangler western shirt, a US Navy surplus melton wool peacoat, a brand new Polo RL cricket sweater (one of my wardrobe grails) that was on consignment, a red quarter zip sweater and my favourite orange bandana.
It’s always fun to pop in for a chat and have a rummage through the racks.
I raise my figurative glass to Midwest Trader’s continued success.
Some of Midwest’s items can be viewed and purchased at their online shop.
Visit in person at 1 Ebenezer Pl, Adelaide, SA.
New drops land very frequently – stay abreast of these on Midwest’s Facebook and Instagram profiles, where new arrival alerts are posted regularly.