Take a ride to Pasa-get-down-dena and find one of Houston’s youngest vintage clothing curators.
On the drive there, you’ll see industrial power plants and palm trees; taquerias and an abandoned hospital that looks like it’s probably haunted; passing trucks adorned with giant Virgen de Guadalupe stickers on the back windows; Cadillacs blasting with Tejano music. Yup, you’re in the right place.
The coordinates for 171 Pasadena Town Square will bring you to Plaza Paseo Mall, a shopping center most of have probably never heard of—this writer included—until now. There, you’ll be met by a small food court (with no free samples), empty shopping suites, and a Mexican mariachi apparel store. It’s nearly a ghost town, but there are a few souls roaming around.
Like Josh Cruz, owner of Broke Boyz Vintage. At 20, he’s recently opened his first brick-and-mortar with his partner and good friend, Abraham Limon, owner of Exclusive Elements, an urban apparel consignment shop.
Flash back to last December when I first met Cruz at an EaDo pop-up, where I wandered around, brew in hand, not looking for anything in particular. Cruz, a vendor there, was the only person who didn't solicit me to enter his tent, a fact I appreciated. I ended up buying a few vintage University of Miami items for a friend and a yellow, oversized starter crewneck for myself that I wore all winter.
Then, I talked with Cruz about his journey in the Houston vintage scene. I was struck by his laidback attitude and also by his maturity, despite his young age. Cruz will be the first to tell you: He's not in this for the money. There's no huge profit on the thrifted items he procures; in fact, his prices are probably among the best you'll find in Houston.
He's not here to compete with others in the industry, either, nor to blindly follow trends. With Broke Boyz Vintage, Cruz is doing what he loves and, as he puts it, "doing it for the culture."
Now, with a few pop-ups in other Southern states and wholesale shipments across the globe, Cruz finally has the keys to his own store.
His curated collection of vintage items, full of nods to hip-hop and '90s sportswear, isn’t similar to anything else in the market. One glance at his Instagram and you’ll see everything from vintage Rockets apparel to throwback Alice Cooper concert tees. He's inspired by whatever looks good to his trained eye, and he has something for everyone.
At the Broke Boyz Vintage soft opening last weekend, Cruz emphasizes how hard he and his team worked to transform the Pasadena retail space. “The walls were bright pink with ballerinas, and the carpet was nasty,” he says, recalling the days of soreness that followed sanding down the floors to level them for new hardwood. “I basically slept here for a month.”
Broke Boyz Vintage has come a long way in a short time—last March, Cruz didn't even have this store planned. Now, he's got more projects on the horizon: "I want to use this store to help other people get to where I am now," he says. "I have artist friends and photographers whose art I want to put on the walls so I can use it as a gallery."
Staying loyal to the soil he grew up on, Cruz also wants to bring life back into Plaza Paseo Mall with events for the arts and future collaborations with local urban clothing brands. "I want everyone to come up with me," he says.
Broke Boyz Vintage is open seven days a week at 171 Pasadena Town Square; 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon–6 p.m. Sunday.