For True Fans Only: Merch Junkies

One-off vintage pieces dressed up with the names of rock'n'roll stars and glam rock legends

It started out with a Bowie jacket NYC-based stylist and photographer Zara Mirkin made for herself. “I was always painting on the back of jackets and jeans,” she tells CH. “The idea came about after I had so many people take photos of my Bowie jacket and ask for one. I concepted this idea with my best friend to make bootleg homemade one off band merch, like crazy teenage fans did in the ’70s.” Mirkin started buying and stocking up on jackets and old shirts to later customize, but they slowly collected dust for months at a time as she became busy with her freelance work. Tired of having the piles lay around in the office, she finally took the leap and launched Merch Junkies earlier this fall, bringing one-of-a-kind pieces to fans for whom music is their religion.

Everything except the embroidered underwear is a one-off—and yes, you can now have a miniature shrine to Motörhead’s Lemmy or Bowie hidden beneath your pants. Vintage jackets in different materials and bright colors are adorned with names like AC/DC, T Rex, Elvis and more; there are also barrettes, pins and even a pair of glam boots. “We sold out of everything within a couple days, and have had some pretty mega people and publications reach out to us to borrow stuff. However I still want to keep it the way it is—and just do drops of new pieces once a month,” says Mirkin. “It’s nice because it’s such small quantity that no-one will ever have the same piece. I do make custom things for shoots mostly. And for the odd person I really admire.”

“I get a lot of my stuff online (mostly jackets), as well as buy bulk dead stock of ’70s shirts from people I find along the way,” says Mirkin on sourcing. “I occasionally find stuff in stores, but good vintage is hard to find these days. I look for stuff that is mostly ’70s, sometimes if the quality is really good I will go into the ’80s. The pieces need to be plain enough for me to customize, but have to be good colors and shapes so that the overall finished product is really special and unique.”

“I mostly do well-known artists/bands because unfortunately that’s what sells! A lot of the more obscure bands I like and would love to make stuff for are too small for it to be OK with me about making money off them. But I still make special one-offs for shoots,” notes Mirkin. “I mostly stick with ’70s Glam Rock era—so your Bowie, T Rex, Alice Cooper, Kiss, Ozzy Osbourne, Mick Jagger, etc. I do make some more metal genre pieces, and I throw Hole (even though they are ’90s) in there because they were my ultimate growing up.” She continues, “Courtney Love was my idol—as to most girls. I was in love with Guns N’ Roses; Slash was my style icon,” she laughs.

“I have had a lot of requests—Blondie, Iggy, The Runaways, etc—however I feel like I started this solely as a personal project, not to make money or as a business, so therefore I just want to make what I want to make,” she laughs. “I work as a stylist/photographer still about 80% of my time, and will always remain to do so, no matter how busy MJ gets. It will get busier, but I don’t plan on expanding it because I want everything to remain exclusive and one off.” Mirkin’s dedication to staying unique is what makes the wearer feel like a superstar—and one step closer to whoever your glam rock idol might be.

Shop Merch Junkies online, where they’ve just added a bevy of new pieces to the site: expect new customized satin and wool jackets, ’70s dead stock embroidered T-shirts, ’70s ribbed underwear (all embroidered) and a few hand-drawn T-shirts.

Final two images shot by Mayan Tolendo, modeled by Kaia Abraham and styled by Zara Mirkin; all other campaign images shot by Petra Collins