This story is reprinted with permission from Birmingham Times
When Taylor Young held the grand opening of her clothing store in West Birmingham, it was also a homecoming. Did.
Family, friends and consumers joined Young in October to celebrate Retrograde Dept., a high-end streetwear store where shoppers can buy, sell and trade. What made it even more special was that her family once owned the square where her shop is located.
“My grandmother had a restaurant in the first building at the very beginning of the square and my uncle had a clothing store called The Spot. [in the plaza]said Young.
“My uncle was considered a stylist, so he was very famous in the city. ‘Who’s who’ would come there and shop,” Young said.
She learned a lot about business and fashion from her uncle who passed away in 2011. She intended to take over her clothing store upon graduation from high school. He was going to give it to me,” she said.
“When my uncle passed away, it took a toll on our family and everything changed,” she said.
Young also learned a lot about fashion from 90s artists.
“I used to see people like Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopez [was a member of the R&B girl group TLC] and Aaliyah [singer and actress] With 106 and Park, [a music show airing hip hop and R&B videos, and their clothes were baggy therefore I used to wear my brother’s clothes for the same look,” Young said.
Young grew up in Ensley with her two older siblings Brielle, 32, and Justin, 30, but moved to Hoover when she was in the fifth grade and graduated from Hoover High School in 2013. She used $5,000 in savings from a fast-food restaurant job to launch her clothing brand website Stay Taylor Made, which started out as t-shirts and hats with Young’s logo, a picture of her with a Medusa head.
“I wanted to get my brand out there. I was big on my brand because I knew I wanted it to consist of my name and I am my brand,” she said.
While running her business she attended Jefferson State Community College for two years then transferred to Miles College in Fairfield, AL.
She left Miles to focus on her brand and to open a clothing store. She worked as a store manager at a clothing store in Fairfield, AL for about two years learning from the owner. “That’s when I told myself I can do this, I can run a store,” she said.
Learning The Business
Young said she learned the importance of building relationships while working at the store with brand owners whether they were high- or low-end brands. She also had the opportunity to travel to shows for example Las Vegas Market Week, that featured 250 different brands from around the country.
In addition, she also worked at a store that sold lifestyle clothing and footwear from brands such as Nike, Jordan, Levi’s temporarily to learn the business side.
“That’s when I learned how to do stuff like payroll, inventory, and audits. When I decided I learned everything I need to know that’s when I opened a clothing store.”
Her first was Shop Tay Way in October 2019 in downtown Birmingham connected to Thomas Jefferson Towers which catered to men and women and carried high end brands like Essentials, Bape, a street wear brand established in Japan, Chrome Hearts, Nike, and of course her brand Stay Taylor Made. Her clientele consisted of individuals between the ages of 17 to 40.
Just months after opening, the world was shut down with the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“If I would have known the pandemic was coming just months after opening my store, I wouldn’t have opened it. I only had four months with a clean slate. I didn’t know how I was going to survive but I ended up making changes inside of the store” that included selling mostly street wear, she said.
Asked her definition of street wear Young said, [It can] Sweatpants, T-shirts, hats, socks, etc. It doesn’t have to be a designer brand, but it can be owned by someone who serves everyday needs like skateboarding lifestyle brand Supreme…and there’s another brand here in Birmingham called Broken Dreams.
In August of this year, Young passed by a square in West Birmingham and saw a vacant spot.
She asked one of her uncles about renting The Spot. [where she is currently located] And then, “He kept telling me someone else was bringing him a security deposit to rent it out. When I finally asked him, he said, “If that person doesn’t come today, you can get it.” [the location].
When asked why she changed the name from Shop Tay Way to Retrograde Dept., she said, “I wanted to rebrand everything.”
Retrograde allows consumers to purchase brands such as Hollywood-based luxury brand Chrome Hearts. Essentials is an apparel brand that offers street-inspired comfort. The Gallery Department is a unisex apparel brand based in Los Angeles, CA.
“There’s also a vintage and consignment area in the store,” said Young. Some of her vintage pieces are new or only worn once, she added.
When buying clothes for retrograde placement, Young rarely buys more than one. She doesn’t buy the same clothes twice.
“Especially here in Birmingham, nobody likes to look the same,” said Young.
Retrograde Dept. is located at 728 3rd Avenue West Birmingham, AL 35204. She can be found on her social media and her Instagram. @Taylor Somade When @Retrogradedeptbhm