Walking down Extra Place in the East Village, one can only imagine what unsavory activities used to occur in the alleyway. It’s had its fair share of notoriety being right behind CBGB – most famously visible from Ramones’s first album and the band’s other press photos. But all that has changed and with it, the history from that era. The grittiness is paved over and is now home to several restaurants and shops including Koji Kusakabe’s Extra. A store that is rooted in American history, albeit a different one from New York in the 1970’s. Koji specializes in vintage objects from the turn of the 20th century as well as American inspired workwear, including the largest POST OVERALLS collection under one roof. He was able to parlay his expertise as an antiques dealer for Japanese clients to open Extra in June of 2010. Given that it’s predominantly an antique shop you won’t find a cluttered mess. Instead, the sparse space is more like a gallery, where everything in its place belongs. Lamps, wool blankets, old signs are all arranged methodically. Koji is incredibly knowledgeable when it comes to the provenance of every item and his childlike enthusiasm is refreshing. We visited his shop several weeks ago to see What’s In Store.
What labels are you carrying for the season?
POST OVERALLS and Batten Sportswear.
What in particular drew you to these labels?
Post Overalls is a very unique company with simple and timeless design. It has great detail and I like their fit as well. It is a company inspired by American vintage workwear. I like the fact that one can wear Post fashionably or as regular workwear. I’ve been wearing Post since 1993.
Batten Sportswear has great color, style and a unique design perspective on the surfing and outdoor influence.
What do you look for when you’re vintage shopping? Is there a particular region of the U.S. or era you seek out?
I used to buy vintage clothing, accessories and objects for the Japanese market. While doing so, I always liked looking at various vintage stuff from different eras. For example, I found interesting furniture, folk art, lighting fixtures, records, audio equipment, etc. I enjoy mixing different kinds of vintage pieces to create my favorite atmosphere. I usually buy from instinct which is also based on my own value of the item and sometimes it’ll be more than the market price.
About a quarter of your store is devoted to clothing while the rest is devoted to vintage items. Do you plan to include more clothing to your store?
I would carry more Post Overalls because it’s the kind of stuff I like to wear. Everything in my shop is what I like, so that’s what I sell.
Collectors always have a great story about a particular item they found. What’s yours?
I went to an old gas station in Texas. After I pumped gas, I asked the owner if he knew any family owned clothing or old department stores close by. He said his family used to own a dry goods store at the station in the early 1960’s. He showed me some items left over from the store. I found a pair of early 1960’s Levis 501 jeans and a 1930’s wool and leather zip jacket in its original box.
On another trip to California, I went to a western store and found a lot of 1970’s Lee jeans. The shop owner told me to visit a music store in the same town. The music store’s owner’s father used to have a workwear clothing shop in the same location. I was able to find a lot of work boots, overalls and jackets from the 1950’s on the 2nd floor of the music shop.
My friend found a very old Lee jacket in the basement of a pizza shop in Brooklyn. When he was a kid he used to live around there and he remembered the pizza shop being a clothing store.
Sometimes you can find old stuff from strange places. It’s worth it to check it out.
Visit Extra at 10 Extra Pl.
Sat & Sun: 1pm-7pm