She likes to refer to herself as an ad for Saved By the Bell. It shows.
Commonly clad in frayed denim shorts, Doc Martens, and one of her many vintage sweatshirts, Laura McDonald ’10 radiates the ’90s aesthetic that’s so popular today. And with a collection of 700 curated pieces in her online boutique, Rad Max Vintage, she’s bringing a little piece of the decade to the future.
“There’s a certain joy to the 1990s,” McDonald says. “It was a little simpler, a little bit smoother before social media and the internet.” With Rad Max, she aims to bring that feeling to those who grew up in the era.
An avid sports fan, most of McDonald’s stock is composed of memorabilia; she has threads for teams ranging from her beloved New York Giants to the now-defunct Hartford Whalers. Dazzling blue, cropped bomber jackets; oversized crewnecks; and a few fuchsia ski suits make up a fraction of pieces in her collection. Started in December 2018, selling at bars and markets around Los Angeles, her business is booming less than a year since its inception.
It’s apparel with teams like the extinct Whalers, or franchises that have changed color schemes or logos, that people order the most. For die-hard supporters of teams like the New England Patriots, which switched its minuteman logo in 1992, sporting the old image shows they’re not just fairweather fans.
Pulling on those nostalgic strings, McDonald says she hunts for pieces that remind people of their childhoods: sweatshirts that are worn and soft, oversized T-shirts, and cozy hoodies. “I want them to feel like they’ve reached into the back of their dad’s closet and pulled out something he hasn’t worn since they were in second grade,” she says.
“It’s part of the whole branding of it. I love bright colors, high ponytails, choker necklaces, crop tops — all of it,” says McDonald, who drives her turquoise Jeep Wrangler, dubbed “Kelly Kapowski,” when looking for merchandise.
But besides her love of fashion, McDonald enjoys selling these vintage pieces because they provide connections for strangers. “LA is a city of transplants,” she says. The camaraderie that accompanies being a team’s fan brings otherwise strangers together.
Looking fresh doesn’t hurt, either.