It happens in the blink of an eye. Like serendipity, it sweeps you. It takes your breath away and lures you into doors you have never opened, in exchange for an adventure of a lifetime. The bell rings, a staff greets. Romance ensues is I glide my hands against soft pleather jackets owned by used-to-be famous rock stars or tulle gowns worn only twice by a 90s celebrity.
To some, vintage stores are old, dingy-looking shops perched in small alleys. But to me, they’re magical, like they were tucked away there as if they were secret spaces, all waiting for you to uncover what’s inside. More than the clutter displayed on the glass window, they are museums of memories, treasure troves of someone else’s relics. Now, if you’ll excuse the heavy whiff of perfume – perhaps made to cover the fact that some of the items were precious but moth-gobbled – vintage stores may just be as wonderful as a library to the bookish.
Okay, I get it. Vintage stores get a bad rap. The more contemporary would love to be seen walking towards high-end shops than sneaking into the doors of Beacon's Closet. Maybe it's the gothic-hipster reputation it bears (not all vintage stores bear this image, by the way), or the fact that these lovely, still usable clothes and things only cost half of what fast fashion retail shops sell. And don't argue with me on this: you'd get similar styles and designs because today's fashion, as we all know, is inspired from the past.
So, why not go to the past directly, right? Why not skim through the corduroy trench coats and plaid coordinates of Awoke Vintage? Or envelop yourself with the classic curations of Na Nin Vintage (along with their staple fragrance line)? And if you want to up your ante – I mean, your fashion flavour, Vestiaire Collective is the best place to discover pre-owned luxury fashion. Now that’s one way of getting your hands on something posh, with a cause.
“But browsing through regular shops is so much better,” you’d say. “There’s better lighting and ambience, so don’t scrimp on the money.” Well, maybe. Yet there’s still one thing retail therapy can’t give me, and that’s the thrill of discovering what could be hidden in the stash. I mean, who knows what I’m going to pull next time? Maybe it’s a haute couture Dior or a Burberry bag in mint condition waiting for me to take home!
Truth to be told, vintage shops give me more than quenching my style appetite. It also teaches me to be ethical. See, fast fashion, as we all know, changes in the blink of an eye. Another month, another trend. No; it's not like it's bad to go with the fashion flow, but consumerism is eating up a lot of our current resources, as well nit-picking a hole in your wallet. The clothes you wear now? Well, they could be ending up in a landfill in years to come. Or, surprise, surprise – in a vintage shop, too.
Shopping vintage clothing isn't really about looking old. It's about editing and selecting very carefully. You get a more fashionably-refined nose for the structured Sixties look and the smart Seventies tailoring. Also: it's also staying away from damaged goods. Missing buttons? I can manage to replace them. Tattered seams? My sister can sew. The real value of the clothes come from the item itself, and how it could be enjoyed a dozen times, whoever wears it.