Before brothers Jorge and Jose Angeles opened Waves Las Vegas in July near the Arts District, they had been buying secondhand clothing and shoes from thrift stores and flipping them for more money for years.
It started after the brothers moved to North Las Vegas from Lansing, Michigan, with their family about six years ago, Jorge, 24, said. They didn’t have much money, but they wanted to uphold a certain look.
“We wanted to be fly,” Jose, 23, said. “(But) we couldn’t afford stuff at stores, so we started going to Goodwills and stuff. We started buying Polo and other brands. We were really wearing everything that we wanted, but it was for the low.”
They also used Facebook groups to find inexpensive clothing from brands such as Gucci and Marc Jacobs for as low as $20. Jorge met with a man named Ronnie Vyce who sold items online and asked where he found the products. Vyce gave him a bus ticket and $20, and they went thrifting at Savers, Goodwill, Deseret Industries and Catholic Charities. They would frequent Savers on 99-cent Mondays.
Jorge said that they would start at thrift stores in Henderson and work their way to North Las Vegas. They items they bought they would sell to Buffalo Exchange.
“We would keep going until we got the right amount of money and stuff that we wanted,” Jorge said. “At the time, paying $1 and turning it into $6 was quick money.”
When Vyce moved out of state in 2012, Jorge continued shopping and eventually his brother, who was attending Canyon Springs High School, picked up on it as well.
The brothers continued riding the bus for a few years, until they were able to use their father’s truck, which had no air conditioning and unreliable brakes, Jorge said, laughing. Eventually they bought a car. They began posting photos of items on social media and sold products out of their trunk.
Some of their greatest “come ups,” or deals, a vintage California Angelsbaseball cap they paid 16 cents for at Goodwill and resold for $120, Jose said. Their favorite store is Broadacres Marketplace, a North Las Vegas flea market where they said people often sell valuable items on Fridays.
“I got so much money off dollars,” Jose said.
They also sell items online to people overseas. They said they have sold items to Las Vegas vintage stores including Fruition, which opened about 12 years ago and was one of the first vintage streetwear stores in town.
“It got to the point where we were selling to other stores, and we’re seeing them make all this money off of stuff that we’re wholesaling,” Jose said.
When their garage got full of items they had acquired over the years, they decided that it was time to open a store, Jorge said. “We knew that we had enough to open a couple of stores,” Jose said.
Waves sells brands including Supreme, Bape, Stussy (older pieces), Polo, Nike, Jordan, Yeezy and graphic T-shirts from the ‘80s.
North Las Vegas resident Daniel Pimentel, 26, was shopping at the store on a recent Sunday afternoon and purchased a pair of shoes.
“It’s just different,” he said of Waves. “There’s not stores like this or anything to this magnitude with so much of a variety. “(On display) they have a MCM jacket next to a Bape jacket, that’s next to an Chanel jacket. The city is a transient town, so it only makes sense that everything is from everywhere else.”
Jose said that he’s grateful to have started the business with his brother.
“I could say it’s a headache, but in reality I can’t work with anybody else,” he said. “… Our relationship has always been around clothes. At the end of the day, we have an understanding that we know it’s going to be successful.”
Jorge believes the store would have flopped if it opened a few years ago because there weren’t enough people interested in the vintage streetwear fashion culture at the time. Today, more people in Las Vegas are hip to it, he said. Several stores that sell streetwear have opened recently, including Sqonder, Bring it Back Las Vegas, Institution 18b, On the Arm and Yesterday’s Fits.
Centennial Hills resident Pedro Duran, 19, opened Bring it Back Las Vegas about one month ago with his high school friends Eric Adams and Yovani Barrera. He said he’s glad to see more stores popping up in town.
“We’ve been in Vegas all of our lives, and seeing all this progress and the fact that we could be a part of it is very humbling,” he said. “We don’t see it as competition. It’s more traffic. We’re all fans.”
Jorge said that there’s room for everyone in the market and that they will refer people to other stores at times.
Summerlin resident Jesse Smith, 21, owns Yesterday’s Fits with his 19-year-old brother Austin.
“I feel like the stores as a whole are really influential because it’s giving a wider selection to the public,” he said. “It’s making vintage clothing and popular streetwear brands more accessible.”
Jorge hopes the stores further fashion culture in Las Vegas.
“I feel like Vegas has showed love to us so far, so we want to help it grow,” he said. “We feel like Main Street can be the Fairfax (shopping district in Los Angeles).”
Waves Las Vegas
Address: 1405 S. Main St. ( Look for waves painted on a tan building, as there isn’t a sign)
Hours: 12-7 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, 12-5 p.m. Sundays
Similar fashion stores in town:
Yesterday’s Fits: 5025 S. Eastern Ave.
Institution 18b:918 S. Main St.
Fruition: 4139 S. Maryland Parkway
Bring It Back Las Vegas: 1512 S. Main St.
Sqonder: 1130 S. Casino Center Blvd., No. 140