Cy’ree Clarke, co-owner of Coltree Supply, finds beauty in repurposing old clothes. Clarke sees a connection between his Christian faith and his work to make old things new. Credit: Katie Wilson
Stained. Distressed. Old. Faded. Torn. Different.
It’s evident when an article of clothing has been well-loved. In its prime, it may have been worn every week. It might’ve been washed over and over again. It may have a ketchup stain from a messy hotdog at the State Fair.
It might be frayed at its edges from years of use. It might be faded from the sun. It might have a unique scent – an accumulation of the detergents used on it over the years and the natural scents of its owners and environments.
It ends up in a local thrift shop, hanging on a rack alongside a dozen other pieces left behind – waiting for someone new to come along and find value in it despite its flaws.
That’s when Cy’ree Clarke and Colton Jarvie come in.
“I love coming across a piece of clothing that you can tell is old,” Clarke said. “It’s just got so much character.”
Clarke, 21, and Jarvie, 24, are the creators of Coltree Supply, an online shop that resells sneakers and vintage clothing. Coltree also resells “hype” clothing, which is a loose term associated with popular modern streetwear. They occasionally host pop-ups at Piecewise Coffee, a coffee shop in Cayce.
To Clarke and Jarvie, vintage clothing is more than a means to making a quick buck. Both say that their Christian beliefs play a part in their passion for vintage clothing.
The Christian faith places an emphasis on the value of something or somebody regardless of its imperfections, and Clarke says this belief has permeated his taste in clothing.“Vintage taught me beauty and imperfections,” Clarke said. “That fade or that distress is what makes that piece desirable.”
Clarke described the way he used to “idolize” clothes when he was younger. “I’d get really mad if a shirt got a hole or a stain on it,” Clarke said. “I would get so upset if it wasn’t in pristine condition.”
Clarke and Jarvie created Coltree Supply in the fall of 2019 after attending the Cola Kicks Expo – a sneaker convention – together in Columbia. The two were good friends with a shared passion for sneakers.
Three hours into the conference they became business partners.
“The conference had a ton of vintage for sale and we both though it was so cool,” Jarvie said.
“We were vibin’ and talking about clothes; then we were like ‘Wait a minute. We both enjoy this, let’s start a shop,'”Clarke said.
Both Clarke and Jarvie have full-time occupations – Clarke for a property management company in Columbia, and Jarvie as a full-time graduate student at Life University in Atlanta. Coltree Supply is a hobby that they work on in their free time.
The two entrepreneurs find unique pieces at yard sales, in local thrift shops, on online markets, and through word of mouth – Clarke operating out of Columbia and Jarvie out of Atlanta.
“The key is to know what to look for,” Clarke said. “Every day is a scavenger hunt, an adventure.”
Coltree Supply markets its products through its Instagram account, @coltreesupply. Pictures of items are posted with a brief description in the caption followed by a listing price. If a user is interested, he/she can respond to the post with an offer. Once an interested user has claimed and paid for an item, Coltree will ship it or personally deliver it if the buyer is local.
Most of Coltree’s customers are either Millennials or Generation-Z, according to Clarke.
“It’s mainly college students,” Clarke said. “Old heads will see our items and be like, ‘I remember this from when I was back in college.'”
Lawson Mansell, a 22-year-old who moved to Columbia in February for a job with the Palmetto Promise Institute, found Coltree Supply through its Instagram page. Mansell is one of the more frequent buyers of Coltree items, according to Clarke.
Mansell says he likes buying from Coltree because he prefers to shop locally and finds value in recycling clothes.
Clarke and Jarvie have noticed a lot of diversity among the Millennials and Gen-Z’s that shop with Coltree.
“What’s really cool is that you’d expect streetwear [which includes vintage clothing] to be African American-based,” Clarke said. “But people from every type of culture are truly enjoying this style.”
Jarvie believes that vintage wear is popular among younger generations because it’s a way to express yourself, while also “giving a nod to the past.”
“A lot of people are attracted to it because of the nostalgia to it,” Jarvie said. “Things about their childhood that they wanted to experience but couldn’t because it was before their time.”
Clarke believes it’s so popular because people want to be unique.
“Each person can have their own specific way of expressing themselves with vintage, that’s just today’s culture,” Clarke said.
Like Clarke and Jarvie, Mansell also believes that wearing vintage items is a form of expression.
“You get to wear things you like, express yourself, and sort of build your own personal brand,” Mansell said.
Many social influencers, like professional basketball player Russell Westbrook and famous rapper A$AP Rocky, have contributed to the rise in appreciation for vintage clothing. They often are photographed wearing vintage pieces.
“The influence celebrities have in fashion is huge,” Mansell said. “Things are definitely coming back in style.”
Mansell remembers when he first started seeing vintage wear becoming popular.
“I texted my dad and said ‘I need all of your old stuff,’” Mansell said. “Those old fits all of a sudden became valuable again.”
Paula Martin, a sales associate at Thrift Avenue, a brick and mortar thrift shop in West Columbia, says she’s noticed younger people coming in and buying vintage pieces too.
“It’s going back to the hippy-dippy days,” Martin said. “They take weird things and put them together and make them look good.”
Interested in revamping your closet with some vintage items? Check out the Carolina News and Reporter Pinterest page for inspiration on men’s and women’s streetwear at https://www.pinterest.com/cnews6250/streetwear/
Clarke has a natural positive energy that is reflected through the pictures that are posted in Coltree’s Instagram. Credit: @coltreesupply
Coltree Supply re-sells thrifted vintage items, like this denim jacket. The two owners, who connected through a mutual passion for their Christian faith and old clothing, spend their free time hunting for unique pieces. Credit: @coltreesupply
Coltree Supply hosted its second pop-up last month at Piecewise Coffee in Cayce and had a great turnout, according to Clarke. Credit: Cy’ree Clarke
Clarke sometimes has friends help model Coltree pieces to be posted on the Instagram. Credit: Cy’ree Clark
Colton Jarvie, co-owner of Coltree Supply, wears one of Coltree’s graphic T-shirts while posing with his girlfriend, Cindy Nguyen. Credit: Colton Jarvie
Clarke’s car was overflowing with Coltree products the day after a pop-up. “I look like I’m living out of my car, but I promise this is all vintage clothes that’ll be posted for sale on the Instagram soon,” Clarke said.
Coltree Supply sells more graphic T-shirts than any other item. This rack of shirts was displayed at their second pop-up last month. Credit: Katie Wilson
Coltree Supply posts all of its items for sale on its Instagram page.