“I’ve been in this neighborhood a long time, 22 years — bought my first house in 1997 — and I’ve seen a lot of changes. I can tell you where everything used to be. I sang at the Radio Café. I ate at Sasso. I was here for both tornadoes. There are people who moved here before me who I respect tremendously because people were terrified to come over here, much less live. I’ve been held up at gunpoint over here. I’ve got stories that you don’t want to hear. But there’s no place else I’d want my business. I’m still here because I love the neighborhood. I’ve seen so many changes and I understand the concept of impermanence. Nothing is sure except change. Somebody once sang, ‘changes aren’t permanent, but change is.’”
“Vintage clothing will always be in fashion,” Trisha Brantley, owner/operator of The Hip Zipper on Forrest Avenue said in a recent interview. “It’s never going to stop. The t-shirts we’re wearing right now, our grandkids are going to die for. And the rules are, there are no rules. Anything goes in vintage because you get to express yourself. And it’s a green form of shopping. It keeps old things out of landfills.”
The Hip Zipper, which happens to sit right next to The 5 Spot, is known to be a go-to place for anything your nostalgic sartorial yen might have a hankering for, whether it be coats, slacks, the perfect sequined dress for next week’s party, that Grace Kelly fedora … and oh, those shoes! The store is a bit on the small side, yes, but that only accentuates the bounty there to be found. You don’t stroll around between the racks of coats and dresses; you shimmy sideways through them.
“I try to have a balance of everything,” said Brantley. “And it’s not that I try to be all things to all people, but I want to have as big of a selection as I can. I try to keep it as affordable as possible. My prices are based on what I must pay for things. I try to offer a good selection of men’s clothing and good women’s pieces that you can incorporate into your wardrobe — whether you are an all-vintage clothing person or whether you’d like to add vintage to your wardrobe and incorporate it and make your style an individual style — so that people don’t know what you’re wearing is vintage and what is new.
“One of the things I ask my staff to do is to ask where people are from,” she continued. “And most of my customers right now are from out of town because East Nashville is a tourist destination.”
Brantley, a talented singer with a winning smile, was raised in Dallas and came to Nashville on a music scholarship from Lipscomb University in 1987. It translated not into fame and fortune, but a slew of music business jobs at various labels and agencies. She is a charter member of famed specialist cover band Guilty Pleasures, and her responsibilities in the band show off her can-do nature.
“I’m in charge of doing the setlist, I’m in charge of putting all the background vocals together, I’m in charge of the LLC, doing the guest list, making sure everybody’s on stage when they’re supposed to be, and I’m in charge of paying everybody, doing all the tax stuff, and I’m also the one who passes out the Ritalin.”
Along with selling clothes, tending her backyard vegetable garden, being Guilty Pleasures’ cat-herder and drug mule, and indulging her passion for hot yoga five or six times a week, has she herself changed along with the neighborhood? Well, I guess we all do. But, as she says, “It’s just the nature of life. You learn to evolve with it, and that’s okay. I’m happy just to have been a part of it here.”
Trisha Brantley’s store, The Hip Zipper, is the 2021 Best of East reader’s poll winner in the “Best Vintage Store” category, and tied for top honors (along with Backslide Vintage) in the “Best Clothing-Men’s” category.
The Hip Zipper
1008 Forrest Ave., Suite A
Nashville, TN 37206