“I’m treating today as a historical educational trip,” says 18-year-old Audrey Serrano, who began lining up outside of Kim Gordon’s wardrobe sale in Silverlake, Los Angeles at 6:30 in the morning. “Similar to going to a museum.” Joined by her 19-year-old friend Madeleine Frino, they are second and third in line to buy the old clothes of the American musician, artist, and writer, whose iconic '90s style still influences today's new-gen riot grrls. In front of them is 29-year-old Jacqueline McLennan, who, bringing along a bagel and her book, claimed her spot at the front of the queue at 6 am – four hours before doors were due to open.
The trio found out about the sale when Gordon posted a black and white flyer to her Instagram account last week, revealing proceeds would be going to the Downtown Women’s Centre. They are all big Sonic Youth fans. But their appreciation for Kim Gordon goes far beyond just that of the legendary rock band she co-founded and fronted. “I’ve always loved the band but I’ve also always loved Kim as a human being,” Serrano, who became obsessed with Gordon’s solo discography after reading her 2015 memoir, Girl in a Band, explains. “I just think she’s so intelligent. The way she composes herself. She shows that intelligence is so much more than what you are on paper, or what the system says it is.”
“She also has a really fascinating way of writing and speaking,” Frino says.
“She’s always authentic to herself and uninfluenced by other people,” adds McLennan.
Serrano agrees. “When you’re consuming things as a Gen Z person, it’s actually really hard to find that authenticity.” “I find it within Kim Gordon.” She starts another sentence, then pauses. “Sorry, I’ve been up since, like, 5:30 and it’s really showing.”
The closet clear-out, organised by Gordon’s stylist Christina Turner, is being held at Submission Beauty on Rowena Avenue, complete with coffee vendors, vegan pastries and even a DJ. “We have been purging thru her closet and I must say, there are gems!” Turner wrote on her announcement post one week ago. “Early bird gets the worm. Limited pieces, small collection.”
In between texting photos of the queue to Gordon, Turner tells me the idea came about during an open conversation about what to do with her decades-long accumulation of pieces, both those bought from boutiques and others gifted from designer friends. "She was at a place where she was ready to let go, and make room." After initially toying with the idea of forwarding on to resell shops, which felt "defeating", they landed on the closet clear-out. "It's my hope to inspire other stylists and their clients to do charity sales, where all the proceeds go to a worthy cause," Turner explains.
"Picking items from Kim’s closet was a process of balancing sentimentality with what resonated with her current style," she continues. "What I find so special is that Kim included pieces in the sale that held special memories for her. There was an original pair of X-Girl denim jeans, her very own Body/Head Y-shirt, and a plethora of ankle boots that she’s famously rocked on stage and been photographed wearing. These items truly captured Kim’s unique style and musical presence."
When I arrive at the tardy time of 8:45 am – losing seven minutes by forgetting to brush my teeth – the pavement is lined with women sitting against the concrete wall, reading novels and drinking iced coffees, or making conversation with those beside them. The queue already goes down the block and loops around a corner through a 7-Eleven parking lot. Though, as a New Yorker near me notes, it’s “nowhere near as long” as that of Sevigny’s own recent wardrobe cull in Manhattan. “Probably,” she adds, “because people don’t really know what to expect from Kim’s.”
As for what they’re hoping to find once doors open, Jacqueline says she's after a band T-shirt or a jacket “to love forever". Perhaps an archival piece from X-Girl – the cult ‘90s fashion label Gordon launched with a guerilla show on the streets of New York in 1994, with runway cameos from friends Sofia Coppola, Spike Jonze, and Chloë Sevigny. Or a keepsake from her time fronting campaigns for Miu Miu, Prada, Saint Laurent and Marc Jacobs. But overall, they’re just happy to have a “peek into the past few decades of Gordon’s life” via her wardrobe. “I don’t want to treat this like a competition or anything,” Serrano continues. “I know a lot of fashion sales can be like that and I don’t want to be in that environment.”
I walk much further down the line and stand at the end, behind a woman who tells me she used to go to Sonic Youth shows in the ‘90s. She’s on the lookout for a top her 17-year-old son, who recently discovered the band, will be able to share with her.
By 9 am, it’s sweltering. Two people in front of me are wearing the new heeled Crocs. One with white socks and a midi-skirt. I buy a pair in line. “For a good bagel, generally, you wanna go to a place that also sells white fish by the pound,” someone behind me says. Someone else is eating fried chicken, fries and a bread roll. “What sort of a place serves that at 10 am?” their friend asks. “No, this is from last night.”
Organisers walk out to let us know it’s an eight-person-at-a-time policy, no bags allowed and I desperately start counting the queue to hazard a guess at when I’ll next see shade. The woman in front of me asks me to save her spot while she goes to buy an iced tea. She offers to buy me one and I accept. She later refuses to be reimbursed via Venmo.
Iced teas providing a brief respite from the heat, my new friend remarks on the opposing aesthetics here to that of Taylor Swift’s recent SoFi stadium tour: “There was more of an inclusive vibe there, at Taylor,” she explains. I nod: there is definitely less pink on display, and not one friendship bracelet in sight, but everyone here is in high spirits. As the group of four, huddled under one umbrella, tell me, “We came here with no expectations so there aren’t any emotional comedowns. If we find something cute that’s a bonus, but either way, it’s a fun way to hang out with your girlfriends on a Sunday.”
I spy a dad and daughter team – not too unlike the ones accompanying their daughters to Swift, actually – together, dad standing over 10-year-old Lulu, who is sitting on a plastic stool brought from home with an umbrella shielding her from the sun. Looking markedly more comfortable than anyone else in the queue, she’s wearing a polka dot skirt, white T-shirt and white Converse sneakers. Lulu has cat earrings on but doesn’t own one of her own, despite “really, really wanting one.” She tells me her favourite band is the Los Angeles rock group The Linda Lindas. “Lulu plays bass,” her dad leans down to say. “Yeah, and drums,” she adds. But when I ask about Sonic Youth, Lulu says, “I’ve never really listened to their music. I’m mostly just here for the clothes.”
10 am finally hits and the line starts moving. Surprisingly, less than 12 minutes later, I see Frino walking out and flag her down. “It was a lot of fun. It’s a great collection of pieces and everyone’s so kind,” she says. There were a lot of sick Hysteric Glamour pieces in there. It was definitely worth the wait.” She explains she was conscious not to take up too much time so other people could have their turn. I feel like crying. But she's really happy with her “big ticket” item: an oversized black suede jacket with tassels that she got for $300. Frino proceeds to pull it out of her bag and shows me, and I confirm, while feeling my first dose of sale envy, it’s a very iconic purchase.
“It’s just Madewell, so it’s really funny I paid that much for it,” she continues. The tag shows it’s actually a piece from the 2016 Madewell x Daryl K collaboration, which I later Google to find on Poshmark for the same price – $295 – sans Kim Gordon’s touch – or the potential of such, anyway. “But it’s just because it was Kim’s,” Frino continues. “I wonder if she even wore it. I like to think she did… but either way, I’m going to make memories in this. I can’t wait to wear it… but have no idea when I’ll be able to because it’s like a million degrees out.”
Shortly after, McLennan comes over to show me her haul: a vintage Sonic Youth T-shirt ($75), a black and white Comme des Garçons collared silk shirt ($150). She's stoked: "I'm going to wear treasure them forever," alongside a purple Rodarte tee the organisers gifted her for being the first in line. “It was really kind, and, apparently, Kim definitely wore this.”
At 10:45 am, we see our first queue jump of the day. A group of three, who look to be in their late 40s or early 50s, walk to a gap in the line and stand there confidently. After a tense minute of everyone silently staring them down and glancing at each other, the women behind band together and tap them on the shoulder, pointing out that the line goes straight out of the courtyard we’re in and around the block. They apologise and move in that general direction, before feigning interest in the food and coffee stalls. Later, the woman beside me yells, “‘Wait, that line jumper got in and, look, he now has a silver sequin blazer on!” A quick Google and I find there’s no Los Angeles equivalent to New York’s Line Guys, who famously wait in line for everything from concert tickets to cronuts, and yes, sample sales, for a fee. I briefly consider a new career.
Unlike Sevigny, whose attendance was part of the draw ticket to her sale, there was no sign of Gordon. But no one seemed to mind — nor even speculate about whether she was planning to pop by or not. Later, I look on Turner's Instagram Stories to find she was, indeed, there, at least for a bit, going incognito in a black cap reading 'Ballroom Mafia' and sunglasses.
The sale has racks starting at $25, moving up to $50, then $100 and above. Turner says it was organised this way — with bins holding Gordon's personal T-shirts going for a tenner — because it was important to Gordon that things were affordable. The original post, stating 'small collection', is a correct descriptor: a small tented area has around five silver clothing racks set up in a one-way system. I wonder aloud how much Gordon has left, and whether there were specific pieces she couldn't yet bring herself to part with. "Kim did decide to hold onto quite a few items that held significant personal value... which could definitely be something to look forward to in a future round two of the sale," Turner teases. "There’s still a treasure trove left to explore."
But that's not to say there weren't meaningful archive pieces in front of us. "A young fan found a vintage dress that Kim wore during a memorable performance. She was overjoyed and couldn’t believe she was holding a piece of rock history," Turner says. "It was a beautiful moment that highlighted the connection between Kim and her fans."
When I get in, at 11:30 am, there’s a lot left: a pair of combat boots, a Levi’s denim jacket I eye up but ultimately leave, a black trench a stylish woman puts on behind me prompting immediate regret at my blindness. After I spy a pair of stunningly beautiful leopard-print heeled sandals, I’m heartbroken to find Gordon’s shoe size is between a 38 and a 39. I clock more Rodarte, Isabel Marant, a floor-length silver Bella Freud dress that I see Yellowjackets star Sophie Thatcher take to the checkout, and, then, yes, band tees.
Someone’s trying to get me to help them translate French trouser sizing, but I’m making a beeline for the last of the Sonic Youth tees, trying desperately to decide in real-time between a mustard-coloured one that has something about Texas on it or the classic white (both $75).
“Get white,” my boyfriend responds once I’ve chosen mustard and another shopper has grabbed the white straight off the rack I put it back on. I tell him off for taking longer than 30 seconds to reply, then buy a pair of ice blue Acne Studios silk shorts ($50), a vintage J Crew plaid shirt (inspired by Jenna Lyons on The Real Housewives of New York) ($25), a cropped Boss black and grey striped shirt ($50), and the mustard tee, which I’m assured is still “very cool”.
Plus, as one wise queuer told me earlier, “There’s no regret like the vintage you didn’t buy".