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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Stone Cold Stephon; TCC graduate ready to take on vintage clothing scene

STEPHON Photos by Alex Hoben/The Collegian
STEPHON
Photos by Alex Hoben/The Collegian

JUAN SALINAS II
senior editor
juan.salinas465@my.tccd.edu

Before the pandemic, TCC alumni Stephon Armstrong ran a small pop-up shop from his mom’s garage where he would sell vintage clothing that he had collected over the years. He dreamed of one day opening up a proper storefront. 

“We had to be in the house for four months,” Armstrong said. “I got bored of everything, and I didn’t want to do anything at all. I was really stagnant.”  

On the rare occasion that he would go out and thrift for clothes, he wouldn’t get the same feeling as before.  

“I’m here,” he said. “Let me look at a few things, like at four or five shirts, then just go home because I wasn’t in the mood for it anymore.” 

It wasn’t until November that Armstrong’s spark for thrifting came back with a vengeance. He met Punch, the owner of Trap Necessities — a vintage clothing store in Arlington. Punch pushed him to come back into the scene by inviting him to pop-ups. 

“As I got to the event, I realized why I do this,” he said. “It’s fun, I meet a lot of new people and I make money.”  

Now with his love rekindled, he is ready to achieve his dream. 

Armstrong graduated from TCC in 2018. He is originally from San Antonio but moved to the DFW area 10 years ago. 

He currently works as a manager at the trampoline park Urban Air, but he always has time for vintage clothing, a passion that started in junior high. 

“My mama would take me everywhere,” Armstrong said. “I would always never look because a kid going to Goodwill won’t want to shop at an old store.” 

Armstrong would consider his clothing style to fall under “streetwear.” The style is where comfort is above all else but still makes a fashion statement. It has roots in the countercultures of the 1980s and 1990s, including graffiti, hip-hop, skating and surfing.

Armstrong would always try to find stylish clothes at thrift stores. It got to the point where he worked at Goodwill just to get the “good finds” before they even hit the racks. He obtained so much clothes that he had to start using a storage unit for all of them over the years. 

His friends were amazed by the number of clothes he had just for himself. 

“His fashion sense is good too, not as good as mine, but he’s one of my best-dressed friends,” Xavier May said. 

Armstrong has a tight-knit friend group. All of his friends have creative talents ranging from making music, photography and fashion. 

 “Stephon is a genuine guy,” May said. “I’ve never been around him and not had at least three good laughs. Whether we’re playing the game or going out to an event or at a party, Stephon is always going to be that same cool-ass dude.” 

Armstrong is always glad to help his friends in their endeavors. 

“Whenever they need a model, I always lend my face,” Armstrong said.  

He has modeled multiple times for clothing brands such as Kids’ Table and his friend Rex’s brand Ripe. Rex, like Armstrong, comes from humble beginnings. 

They would use different clothing parts and stitch them together to make unique pieces. For example, making shorts out of t-shirts from Stephon’s collection. 

“His drive to sell clothes, whether that be reselling or making stuff from scratch, is another reason I look up to him,” May said. 

When Armstrong decided to get serious about selling clothes, he traded in the storage unit for his mom’s garage.

He even “borrowed” a mannequin from his old job at Footaction to promote his business.  

He uses the mannequin for his Depop — a fashion marketplace app — where he posts his collection of shirts. While Depop is a part of his business, his primary strategy is going around Los Angeles and Texas with a pop-up shop. 

“They pay a lot more over there than out here,” he said. “I would fill maybe one to two suitcases with everything that I didn’t sell at my last event.” 

Armstrong would watch Youtube videos from a clothing store in LA called Round Two, which showed the owners bargaining with sellers. When one of his friends invited him to tag along on their vacation to LA, he took the opportunity. 

On average, it would only take him one or two days to make the money back he spent traveling to LA. 

He tries to cater to all styles and ages, even though he doesn’t have many children customers. The main reason Armstrong shops for children’s clothes is for Rex’s son.  

Not only is he planning on opening his vintage clothing store soon, but he has something bigger in mind.

“Me and my friend Dakota are working on a brand called Upset,” Armstrong said. 

Dakota and Armstrong have started small with t-shirts and hats, but once they have a solid fan base, they will expand to jackets and hoodies. 

Stephon also already has a name for his store — Sweet Tea Vintage. The potential location could be Dallas, Fort Worth or Southlake. Until then, Armstrong will continue operating his clothing venture from the comfort of his home.

The next big move for Armstrong is to attend DFW’s Thrift Convention in Arlington June 18. It is the biggest thrifting convention in the DFW area. 

This will be his first solo booth run by himself since the pandemic. 

“I’m excited to get back to the groove of things finally,” he said. 

He is confident he will be able to make a healthy profit while promoting his clothing band. 

“I got one of the best spaces there,” Armstrong said. “Literally right by the door. So when you walk in. you’re definitely going to see me.”

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