Last week, Elizabeth Kiesling, Michelle Eigenberger and Nichole Larson opened Bandit MKE, a vintage clothing store (and more!) at 1224 E. Brady St. The space formerly housed Resistance Radio.
The shop is filled with natural light and well organized, with clothing, shoes, jewelry, records and sunglasses from the 40s to the early 2000s. They also have a cute selection of plants in vintage pots.
Bandit MKE strives for a very friendly, immersive experience. With The Smiths and Lou Reed playing on the sound system, the vibe is very ‘90s thrift store, but with smarter store policy. The clothing is organized by style, not gender, and there are no sizes on the store tags. The goal is for people of all identities and sizes to find what they like and if they think it might fit, try it on in one of the two spacious dressing rooms.
“We want all people to feel comfortable here,” says Kiesling. “And part of the fun of vintage shopping is the hunt.”
Eigenberger and Larson have a decade of experience selling vintage clothing online. They teamed up with Kiesling with the plan to do a plethora of pop-up shops in 2020, but were only able to squeeze one in before the pandemic hit. Thus, the resourceful friends and business partners hosted sales in Kiesling’s Bay View yard in the summer of 2020. They advertised with old-school paper fliers which they put up all over the city. The sales were so successful they were ready for the next step.
“Six months later, we found this space,” says Eigenberger.
Bandit MKE accepts walk-ins and buys some clothing from customers, but most of the stock comes in bulk purchases from collectors or private collections.
“We sell a little bit of everything, but we’re mostly after real vintage,” says Eigenberger.
The stock will rotate regularly with trends and seasons. Currently, jorts (high-waisted jeans shorts) are extremely popular and are flying off the display that the women refer to as “Jort Tower.” Sleeveless summer blouses, slips worn as dresses and fanny packs are also hot right now.
Bandit MKE will evolve as a clothing and gift shop by the holidays, selling wares from Milwaukee makers.
“We’re going to try to have all different things all the time and see what happens,” says Kiesling.
Follow Bandit MKE on Instagram.