California's Hidden Archive Fashion Store: Interview with Tony Nguyen of Find Hid.n
A few of the Hid.n team members in their storefront and workspace.
Tucked away right off the beaten track of downtown Santa Ana stands the elusive Find Hid.n Store. No pun intended but the store is quite literally a hidden gem, I got lost trying to find it my first time going but boy was I happy when I found them. When I first walked in I was instantly greeted and shown around the store despite me not having set up an appointment. The overall vibe of the shop is similar to an apartment, and usually a number of the Hid.n members will be there hanging out on any given day playing Super Smash Bros next to their rack of some of their permanent collection of priceless pieces. Everyone at the shop has an extensive knowledge of the brands and designers that they carry which include rare pieces from Rick Owens, 20471120, Undercover, and Issey Miyake.
Not only do the guys at Hid.n do a stellar job of curating their inventory, they also encourage shoppers to take the pieces off the racks and try them on which is a unique experience on its own, as I’ve never been able to see some of the items in their collection in person. It feels like with each archive piece they had in store, most of them had some sort of detailed story behind it. From a wide range of Chrome Hearts jewelry and clothing to a large collection of vintage Stussy and even a standard-issue Japanese fireman kimono, they really have a little bit of something for everyone.
A few of our friends from Find Hid.n have flown out to NYC this week with suitcases of grail-worthy items for their popup event in collaboration with Soulvenir, Vetememes, May Bien, and Nguyen Inc. If you are in the area this weekend, definitely come by and say hi. P.S. If you see a guy there in camo pants with a camera, ask him for a fit pic!
From the times I’ve been around the shop, Hid.n really feels like collective archive experience. Would you introduce the main members behind Find Hid.n and explain how you guys first started out?
Hid.n consists of over 15 members who each contribute to the brand with their unique skill sets. Elton and I founded Hid.n last March when we decided to experiment with a showroom concept in our space. Back then, we were a parody of Dover Street Market and went by Hidden Street Market until DSM actually set out to deactivate our Instagram. Fun fact, we’ve been throwing music festivals since 2018 through our label, Hidden Fest, which was at a local coffee shop called Hidden House Coffee; that’s where the name comes from. From there, we decided to take the project more seriously and brought on an exciting cast of talented folks such as Usman, our creative director, who continues to help develop the brand’s community, look, direction, and overall product experience.
You guys have a really extensive collection with a wide range of designers, what made you decide to open up a storefront and curate an assortment of archive fashion pieces?
Clothing is the one thing that has always been around for me growing up. I took a break from the fashion scene as I was about to graduate college in 2018-2019, but it kept calling me back so I just leaned into my strengths and gave the path of entrepreneurship a shot. I had already gained valuable experience in the archive space with my time at Los Angeles based archive store Horror Vacuo. I decided to take that knowledge and try to do something unique in the space we occupy, something that was community-centric, and something that could be a hallmark to the people of Santa Ana.
The Hid.n Team members and their outfits that day.
In all the time you have been collecting and sourcing for the shop, what have been some of your favorite pieces you have come across?
We have a whole rack of permanent archive/not-for-sale pieces that we really love. I could go on for days about those, but if I were to name drop a few I’d have to mention the extensive FW99 Helmut Lang collection we have that consists of various Astro jackets and the iconic M69 Flak Jacket that Travis Scott helped popularize. We also have a 1 of 1 Uroboros denim set from Proletareart, a designer who branched off from Kapital to do his own spin on Japanese Americana. I love his stuff very much! There are also a few Undercover Rebelgods bombers from the Witches' Cell Division collection as well as a strong curation of amazing one-off FW01-02 Artisanal Margiela tops. Clothing is so fun!
Right? Alright well now you have to tell us about the Chrome Hearts Overalls.
A running joke is that if it’s your first time in our space I'll talk about the 1 of 1 Chrome Hearts leather overalls that were a special order for K-pop star Taeyang from BIGBANG. They’re great and have Hermes silk lining, sterling silver Chrome Hearts hardware, full leather, and is made as a 1 of 1 special order for a huge Korean celebrity. There’s so much to love about them. On the interior tag, they feature the original owner’s name on it too! Taeyang. So neat. We were able to source this by working out a consignment deal with the current owner.
Would you say there's a particular brand or designer you carry at your shop that you think gets slept on by customers?
Elton Louie is my business partner and Hidn’s in-house designer. I wouldn't say he's slept on as much as he is just not well-known just yet. His brand features some of the most truly original designs in recent times and I have a deep appreciation for his avant-garde, utilitarian approach to garments. Check out his pyramid bag or fencing-inspired half jackets to get an idea of what I'm talking about. He is entirely self taught and inspires me to be better on a regular basis; Elton is a real wholesome and inspirational figure for sure!
He's so great, and definitely slept on! In your overall opinion, with this recent rise of archive clothing store fronts and individual sellers, do you think there has been an influence on fashion houses and brands because of this culture?
I would think so for sure! Businesses follow the money. In the same manner as how luxe fashion houses such as Dior or Gucci are catering towards the streetwear audience in recent times, I see that designers tend to re-release staple pieces later down the line to make a quick profit on the nostalgia factor and subtle updates on classic pieces. It’s definitely nothing new, but I am referring to Raf Simons Redux, Undercover The Greatest, Helmut Lang Reissue, etc. Resellers will flock and buy a 2021 remake of the Raf Simons Nebraska crewneck because they know it’ll sell. The Simons label is definitely cognizant of this consumer behavior. Like other fashion houses, it uses this information to make a calculated reissue collection that will generate income. Money talks!
Trends seem to move in a circular pattern and often repeat themselves, how are some ways you guys try to source unique items for your shop?
Honestly, I wish I had a cooler answer for this but we just buy things that we personally love. That’s the beauty of a shop’s curation, it’s very personal and our product selection speaks miles about the type of garments we’re genuinely into. Right now I would identify my style as a blend of Japanese Americana and tech-wear with a splash of vintage minimalism so these are the type of pieces I’ll be picking up more so than others for Hid.n. On the other end, Ricky is our in-house Undercover encyclopedia, so I can always count on him to bring some banger Undercover pieces into the showroom. I tend to source from other collectors through our Discord and Instagram, Japanese proxy services, my travels, or even local secondhand stores. It all varies. We all have our unique tastes and together we contribute our personal sensibilities to the shop selection.
Hid.n has one of the most extensive Blackmeans coin pouch collections worldwide.
Tell us about some of the recent and past popup events that you’ve held and what can we expect for the upcoming popup event in New York?
We do consistent monthly events that are different every time. We always collaborate with a different business for our events and sometimes we’ll be in our space, or we may be in Seattle. This month is New York City, but maybe we’ll be in Portland in September. We just full-send it, because well… Why not? Our events tend to feature craft coffee from Aaron, our in-house barista. We also have live DJs, mixologists, and once we even had a tattoo artist. It’s important to us to design a flushed out event that feels inviting. We don’t just want people to come shop, we’d like you to stay around and vibe. The biggest grails are the genuine relationships we’ve built through Hid.n. It really keeps us going. We also throw music festivals through Hidden Fest, so folks should check that out too to get a full idea of what we are about!
What are some pieces people should be looking out for at the New York popup?
We’ll be coming correct with our best merchandise, but folks should keep an eye out for the free Hysteric Glamour hat that we’re hiding at the popup. It’s our fun little way of giving back to the people. We’ll be bringing some iconic pieces from Number (N)ine, Undercover, Margiela, Kapital, Dior, SLP, Chrome Hearts, Raf Simons, and more. It’ll definitely be a must-see curation for anyone who is even remotely interested in Archive Fashion.
A look at an average day for Find Hid.n employees.
And for all our West Coast friends, be sure to stop by their location in Santa Ana to see their full collection. I want to thank Tony, Elton and the rest of the guys over at Find Hid.n. Hope to see you all at the popup!
Interviewer and Photographer: Khan Delin
Videographer: Shahin Ansari