Highway Robbery: Vintage finds for the fashion-forward
Kate Colussy has found a way to travel through time — between the 1950s and early ’90s, anyway.
Since 2011, the owner and founder of South Side’s Highway Robbery Vintage has given Pittsburgh guys and gals an affordable way to create truly one-of-a-kind styles. Tucked into the 14th block of East Carson Street’s booming business district, the cozy shop showcases the well-made fashions of yesteryear at alarmingly modest prices. Collected from “house calls, wholesalers, dealers, and walk-ins,” every garment and accessory on display is both ethically made and environmentally friendly — a stark contrast to the mass-produced clothing of the millennium.
“I love that vintage is very well-constructed,” says Colussy, “and the fabrics and prints are just awesome. It has a unique quality to it. And, wearing a vintage piece can really elevate an outfit.”
Originally from Aliquippa, Pa., the self-proclaimed “fashion history geek” often dreamed of one day curating fashion exhibits for museums. “I didn’t end up doing exactly that,” she says. “But I think I got pretty close, and that makes me very happy.”
A nine-year resident of South Side, Colussy ultimately opened her storefront in the same neighborhood to reap the benefits of the area’s busy foot traffic. “It’s the neighborhood I know the best,” she adds. “I’m extremely lucky to have awesome regulars that live here who have been so supportive of the store.”
When she’s not single-handedly operating her flagship, the young entrepreneur also manages a small selection of Highway Robbery’s vintage wear on Etsy — an undertaking that she hopes to expand this year. “My goal is to make all of the store’s inventory available in-store and online,” she says. “I think it will make the shopping experience even better for my customers.”
It’s refreshing to meet someone so enthusiastically dedicated to both her client base and her inventory. As a first-time business owner, Colussy says the most fulfilling aspect of her job is connecting new people with old apparel. “I love to see the life cycle of a garment,” she explains. “I get the story on [its history] when I buy it, and then I get to pass that story along to its new owner.”
See, here in Pittsburgh, we have this thing with history. Whether it’s a colorblocked 1980s windbreaker or a person, we ask about origin — not out of futility, or for the sake of small talk. We ask because we’re interested; because there’s something particularly humbling about sharing our own beginnings with others.
And that’s one of the reasons Colussy has chosen to build a home and a future here.
“Pittsburgh isn’t a pretentious city,” she says. “I think the people here have a lot of pride in where they’re from, and I can appreciate that. Things are changing and growing here, and that’s good, but I hope [the pride aspect] never changes.”
+ After you’ve scouted sweet vintage finds, swing a seat at Colussy’s favorite Pittsburgh place: the South Side’s Cafe du Jour. “It’s always a great vibe,” she says of the French restaurant. “The food is amazing, and it’s really low-key.”