What She Keeps,
Why She Keeps It

Sasha Hodges is the co-owner of Kokorokoko, a vintage clothing and accessories store founded in 2009 in Chicago. She has built a life around carefully curating collections by sifting through the castaways and hand-me-downs of others. We have always been fascinated by which pieces she finds ephemeral and which pieces she treasures.

A Kokorokoko vignette, all images courtesy of the author

My mother taught me how to collect. Christmas mornings were filled with unicorns: some were sewn with manes of golden yarn and stuffed; some were precious and delicate, made of enameled china and meant to be placed on a high shelf. Family friends would return from trips to Spain or Kenya with dolls, traditional to their regions, wearing colorful woven outfits. These dolls were given a new home, on a shelf in the hallway.

My mother taught me how to collect when she gave me a handmade cross-stitch Easter egg each year. They were pastel patchwork, or trimmed with lace and rickrack, and they were displayed in their own special basket surrounded by grass. My mother taught me to display the collection in its own place, each doll or unicorn or cross-stitch egg having a new life among their family on the shelf or in the basket.

I taught myself how to collect when I first sold a record back to the record store. Lugging a small bag with my unwanted records through the sticker-covered door, I waited for the record store employee to tally my total and pay me for my purge. But when I got the money I immediately bought different records! My collection is a heavy stack of choices. It became something to share and cherish — each album was an object but also part of a whole.

No detail overlooked, a treat for the senses

I taught myself how to collect when I realized I couldn't keep it all. Surrounded with beaded sweaters, oversized leather purses, and snakeskin high heels that would never fit my feet. I knew I couldn't keep every pair of asymmetrical sunglasses or painted metal earrings with yellow and purple stars.

I wanted to keep collecting, and I wanted to share, so I opened a resale clothing shop with my best friend.

One day I brought home a six-foot-high photograph of a shirtless man wearing a futuristic visor and knew it would go in my shop as part of the permanent decor. The day I found a promotional clock for the movie The Golden Child, starring Eddie Murphy, I knew it would hang in my shop. A miniature plastic boombox with pink speakers and a blue glass paperweight in the shape of the MTV logo are also small but important pieces of the shop's ephemeral backdrop.

The store is filled with shirts and shoes and bags and belts and bows, collected for other people to find and display. Our shop is a place where we can find meaning in objects and clothes that were chosen, discarded, and then chosen again.

The author in her created world