Fitness fanatic and fashionista Niki Friedman says she wouldn’t dream of lighting up a cigarette. “Smoking has never been cool in my lifetime,” the 24-year-old, who lives in Kips Bay, tells The Post.
But, Friedman isn’t above wearing a black bomber jacket with Marlboro emblazoned across the back in red.
“I thought it was a cool, coveted piece to have in my closet,” says Friedman, who bought it for $40 last year from Metropolis Vintage in the East Village. She posted a sultry photo of herself in the jacket to her nearly 60,000 Instagram followers and received more than 1,000 likes.
“People responded positively,” she says. “I hope nobody took it as me saying, ‘You should go out and smoke Marlboros.’ ”
Health-conscious style mavens who wouldn’t dare touch tobacco are scouring vintage shops for cigarette-themed clothing and accessories. While most millennials would much rather vape than puff on an ultra light, tobacco company logowear is smoking hot, bolstered by the craze for ’90s fashion and nostalgia for bygone advertising icons such as the Marlboro Man and Joe Camel.
“It’s about the niche factor and the kitsch,” says Amanda Dolan, who co-owns the ’90s-themed downtown vintage spot Spark Pretty. She sells Joe Camel-branded windbreakers for $79 and T-shirts for $35, and says they both “fly out the door.” Her favorite piece — an acid-washed shredded jean jacket with “Camel” embroidered across the back — sold quickly for $125. “The aesthetic is cool,” she says, “it’s not about the act of smoking. It’s more that it’s a slice of old-school Americana.”
Michael Spitz, who owns the sports-centered vintage store Mr. Throwback in the East Village, stocks everything from neon-green Newport hats ($45) to Camel-branded mesh shorts ($75). He says the bold graphics and colors attract young street-style mavens to the gear, but the collectors’ factor is a big part of the appeal, too.
“People are attracted to the fact that you could only get it if you smoked cigarettes,” says Spitz. Back in the day, tobacco merch wasn’t available to buy in stores; rather, it was a perk for frequent buyers, like credit-card points. Camel loyalists, for instance, could save and redeem their “Camel cash” — tiny, colorful bills that came in cigarette packs — for swag.
“It’s kind of outrageous to think about now,” says Dolan, who doesn’t smoke, but was nevertheless delighted when she scored a Camel jacket at an estate sale in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Spitz also appreciates the look of a good Kool cap or a Marlboro track jacket. “I would wear it,” he admits. “But not in front of my kids.”
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