For as long as Brad Bonnema can remember, he’s collected vintage clothes. Brad is now the owner of Grayford’s Since 1931, and he brings this love to life in his vintage apparel boutique, located in The Madison Building at 427 Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair. For the past two years, Grayford’s has strived to feature beauty from past decades, and stepping into the shop is like stepping into nostalgia. Read on for a look inside Grayford’s Since 1931, a Montclair boutique featuring the best looks from the past.
(Photo credit: @montclaircenter)
Brad Bonnema’s Background
Brad’s passion for collecting vintage clothes began when he was a young boy and went antiquing with his grandmother. As an adult, he worked as a designer for an architectural firm, then in the retail industry for roughly 15 years. Brad always thought he would open his own business and take on an entrepreneurial life when he retired.
However, while working in retail, he realized that some new clothes were merely recycled from past fashions with slight modifications. These garments were cheaply made, not worth the high prices they cost, and disposable. And Brad saw an opportunity.
So, with sustainability in mind, Brad’s concept for a vintage and antique store was born. He would set up shop and deliver well-made, sustainable, new clothing in the spirit of vintage and carry top-shelf, authentic vintage clothing deemed wearable. Thus, Brad opened Grayford’s Since 1931 in downtown Montclair nearly two years ago.
The store’s name comes from Brad’s maternal grandfather, whose first name was Grayford. He was an artist, teacher, bus driver, motorcycle rider, and U.S. Navy veteran of WWII and the Korean War. “The shop embodies a lot of who he was,” said Brad.
A Look Inside Grayford’s
Stepping into Grayford’s feels like entering a boutique of nostalgia. This shop carries mainly American workwear from the early-to-mid-20th century. Many American men and women who worked in auto factories wore these denim- and blue-collared uniforms.
Items such as Hercules Nation-Alls mechanics suit and Sears Denim Tradewear coveralls can be found here — and the more worn the clothing, the better. Grayford’s also stocks newer brands that are vintage-inspired, like Tellason.
One rack is devoted to jackets, such as Pendleton wool jackets, fleece jackets, Harley jackets, and authentic U.S. Navy-issued deck jackets from World War II. The shop carries men’s clothes primarily, but there are some soft, vintage sweatshirts and tee-shirts available for women.
Some of the tees for sale are double-sided and have different colors inside and outside. Proprietor and Curator Brad explained that kids wore these shirts in gym classes of yesteryear. When the teacher divided the class into two teams, they would wear the color that represented their team.
Décor items in the shop are also for sale, such as a large drum, paintings and photographs that adorn the walls, as well as a beautiful black velvet boy’s vest that dates to France in the late 1890s-early 1900s.
As for home goods, the shop sells more contemporary-made items. Handcrafted teacups made in India and built with a side pocket for the teabag fill many of the spaces in large, wooden apothecary cabinets. Candles made and sourced by Apotheke in Brooklyn can also be found at Grayford’s.