Working in the City: Collective Clothing

Working in the City

By Gray Bennett | Photography by David and Drew Photography

Collective Clothing, known for its one-of-a-kind vintage clothing and accessories, is celebrating 15 years in business. In addition to collaborations with popular films and TV series such as “Stranger Things,” the Chattanooga store continues to be a welcoming, creative space for all fashion lovers. Here, we spoke with co-owner Sondra Aten to learn more about the heart of this eclectic vintage store.

sondra and travis aten of collective clothing in chattanooga

Original rock t-shirts, retro dresses, funky sweaters, and vintage tourist gear – Sondra and Travis Aten love it all. They started their journey into the resale industry about four years after they tied the knot, making the most of their natural talent for seeking out unique vintage items. Collective Clothing officially opened to the public on May 30, 2009, and the launch received unwavering support from friends, family, and the surrounding Chattanooga community.

“Belonging is at the heart of our store. Having walked into stores where I felt out of place, I’m determined to ensure that our space is welcoming to all.”

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collective clothing in chattanooga

An eclectic sea of vintage items greets visitors upon entering the Frazier Avenue store. The diverse selection spans various decades and styles, including ‘60s mod, ‘70s boho, and ‘90s grunge fashions. A range of accessories and vintage vinyl records are also available. When it comes to the store’s curation process, Sondra Aten says attention to detail is key. “We look for distinctive features, such as unique prints, intricate embroidery, and unusual fabric textures,” she explains. “It’s these little details that add character and charm to our selection.”

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vintage rock city shirt in collective clothing of chattanooga

With all the extra care and creativity put into the curation process, it’s no surprise that a number of Collective Clothing’s pieces have made it into the hands of creatives in the film and TV industry. Aten shares one story involving popular TV series “Stranger Things,” saying, “The pool scene in season 3 has loads of items from our store. They were in a crunch, so I actually drove there the day of the shoot, and they just pulled items off a rack to use in the scene. It was awesome!” For Aten, collaborating on creative projects like these has made her work extremely fulfilling. She looks forward to more exciting film and TV collaborations in the future.

collective clothing in chattanooga

While a selection of Collective Clothing’s pieces dazzles on-screen, the heart of the store remains delightfully down-to-earth. Aten says that, ultimately, her passion is to make space for all people to get creative with fashion. “Belonging is at the heart of our store,” she says. “Having walked into stores where I felt out of place, I’m determined to ensure that our space is welcoming to all. Witnessing our items worn in imaginative and inventive ways brings me immense joy, and I hope to continue fostering this sense of creativity for years to come.”

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