If you’ve been addicted to Missy Elliott’s hip hop fashion formula-fiendin’ for her Adidas track suit and that fuzzy Kangol she never stops rockin’-maybe you should just realize that you have a serious crush on Missy Elliott and get some help. But really, if you absolutely love old school hip hop, dreaming of Grand Master Flash spinning while you break to old funk and R&B breakbeats, then you’re about to become one step closer to making your dreams of modern B-Boy (or B-Girl) status come true. Well, fashion-wise anyway.
Step back about a year ago. Owner and fellow hip hop head, Paulita Bennett, decided to fuse her love of vintage clothes and her friendly connections with modern urban artists and fashion designers as the inspiration for her store, YoYo Boutique. “I’ve always been into the B-Boy culture,” she says, “MCs, DJs, graffiti artists, and I’ve been buying vintage clothes for years.” Bennett’s powerfully-built American bulldog, Bruno, is lying at her feet while Musical Youth’s ’82 hit, “Pass the Dutchie,” twists faintly from behind her left shoulder. “I change the music in the store purely based on what I’m feeling that day,” she continues. “It might be one of my mix cds, some Brazilian or samba, or old school funk one day and jazz the next, if we’re in that kinda mood.”
Her store, now growing in popularity and community involvement, sells a mix of ’70s and ’80s retro clothing, accessories, gifts and magazines that cover everything from the best ’40s to drink to what the hell is up with ODB’s identity problem. I mean the man is seriously worse than Prince trying to pick a name! But I digress…Bennett gets a steady influx of vintage gear ranging from tracksuits (yes…like Missy…just older…and with less diamonds), retro sneakers, B-Boy videos and tons of one-of-a-kind fashions created by artists both local and national.
Most people come into the store in search of a hot T-shirt they won’t have to worry about seeing on anyone else the next time they go out, but another of their most sought-after items are the plethora of trucker hats adorning the walls around the store. “They really never go out of style,” says Bennett, but if you’ve been in the B-Boy “know” for a while, you might say that the truckers have been in and that shit’s going out. They come in everything from locally made spray-painted designs to any color hat you need to match the outfit you just bought.
Don’t think that YoYo shuns the mainstream totally: they do offer a selection of some well-known brands like Adidas, Triple5Soul (winter season only) and Paul Frank. But YoYo is in no hurry to be into the latest trends or shun the old ones since “Joggers will be in forever!” The store offers a great price range ($20 -$60) for everyone, especially students who get 10% off their purchase if they show ID. Some of the more pricey items can set you back around $200, but only for the one-of-a-kind art works. “It’s my goal for people to come in here and leave with a whole outfit for under a hundred,” admits Bennett.
The art aspect of the store was one that seemed sewn into the very essence of its construction and its workers. Every inch of the space is covered with vintage gear, artwork for sale or graffiti; like the dressing room which is in itself an artwork full of graff. Bennett feels very strongly that supporting our local artists is one of the biggest downfalls of Miami lifestyles.
“There is a very gray overtone to people’s energies towards each other here,” she mentions. “No one knows the amount of talent that’s here. There’s so much competition and negative stigmas popularized by the media, that it suffocates people.” Miami has started to fall behind other major metropolitan cities like New York, LA and Atlanta in fashion, art and understanding our own cultural identity. Our city “needs more love” advises Bennett and says that her store is just trying to fill a niche and have fun. A sort of artistic succession by means of jogging suits and Mr. T dolls, YoYo will be opening a sister store in Atlanta next month.
Among the many community activity ideas that YoYo is throwing around: a HUGE one year anniversary party, a toy show which will feature toys made by local artists and some known designers. Also, they’ll try to sponsor at least two events a year. Presently, Bennett is collaborating with designers on a fashion show at Soho Lounge Thursday, September 27th, showcasing some collections from YoYo and models with the “B-Boy/Girl look.” Don’t get it twisted, YoYo boutique, although in a somewhat shady part of town, got some killer appeal for you fashionmongers out there in need of a recalibrated wardrobe.
YoYo, “a vintage and old skool boutique,” is located on 742 N.E. 79th Street in Miami; two blocks east of Biscayne Blvd. For more info call 305-754-4297.
Chris Howard can be reached at BBHMM3234@aol.com