Franz Diego of Illuminous 3 gives thrifting advice

Today is Franz Diego's birthday. The Minneapolis rapper was born smack-dab in the middle of the '80s and if you know Diego's obsession with kitsch thrift and vintage shopping, this seems quite appropriate. Every time we see Diego out at a show, whether he's hosting the local Hip-Hop Awards, rapping with his Illuminous 3 crew or playing hype man at Get Cryphy's 3-Year Anniversary, he's always dressed to get that double-take glance from anyone in his path. It was at the latter show that we knew Diego meant serious business with his finds:

"The dopest thing I wore recently was an old pod-racer helmet I found at Salvation Army on Nicollet Avenue," Diego tells Dressing Room. "I epoxied 20 LED lights on and then rocked my entire necklace collection with it."

We caught up with the birthday boy to get some insider info on shopping the thrift racks in the Twin Cities: 

When did you first start hitting up thrift and vintage stores?

I have been going thrifting and antiquing for as far back as I can remember. My mother always would take me on the weekends or when we'd go on road trips in the Midwest. I still remember the first time my mother took me school shopping in 9th grade and brought me to my first Savers. I was in awe at all the awesome clothes I could get for super cheap. It was like triple the outfits compared to mainstream shopping and by the economy alone I was hooked.

Franz Diego of Illuminous 3 gives thrifting advice

What about thrift stores appeals to you most?

For me, I guess there is something really therapeutic and self finding in shopping in a thrift store. You never know what you're going to find and you gain a lot of perspective on how others have lived in the past. You can learn so much from this country by looking through thrift stores -- what people loved, trends, pop culture, old technology and innovations even folk art.

What has been your favorite find of all time?

I have found so many awesome pieces over the years, I guess one of my most prized possessions is a yellow Cross Colors over coat I found in the womens section at Savers on Lake. Second maybe a mint pair of Shaq Attaq pumps with stickers from the manufacturer still on them. I really like pieces that teenagers wore while I was in elementary school because to me that was when things were the coolest and I had no way of getting them. It's almost like seeing your childhood or reliving an exciting moment from your past in a new way.

Franz Diego of Illuminous 3 gives thrifting advice

 What are some of your favorite local shops for thrifting and vintage?

Savers on Lake is my all time favorite local spot and it has to do with everything from the location in the heart of south Minneapolis, the selection and organization of the store, 50% off student discount on Wedsnesdays that no longer exists but I was grandfathered into it for being so frequent there (now I think it's 25%). But my favorite spot ever for thrifting, but not so much for clothes, is The Book Trader in Nokomis; it's a used bookstore first but over the years it's become a place to find the strangest and rarest oddities, reptile heads, homemade street weapons, old jewelry, blackface trinkets, masks, etc. And the woman who runs it can find you any book and always has great stories! 

When you go to a thrift or vintage store, do you have an approach to shopping the racks? Any tips?

My only approach to thrifting is be thorough. Wherever you go, whatever you're interested in, be thorough in your search and look at everything before you decide to leave. It's also a really good way to look at life.

VIDEO:  Franz goes thrifting at b.Resale on Nicolette Avenue & 54th in S. MPLS:

Franz's birthday party is tonight. If you go:

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