Shopping Guide: Putting the V in Vintage

Shopping Guide: Putting the V in Vintage

A look at New York's chicest thrift stores

A look at New York's chicest thrift stores

Text: Veronica Radyuk

At long last, authenticity and individuality are becoming the anthems of the fashion industry, even when such a space is saturated with clothing brands dependent on speedy design conception and mass manufacturing. Rather than being "on trend," today, the more rare and unique one's pieces are, the better (if anything is an indicator of this mindset, just make note of today's prevailing street style looks).

With this in mind, it is no surprise that vintage stores have resurfaced as hot shopping spots for fashion moguls everywhere. It is a source of garment rarity that is constantly being sought out, rooted in the distinct pleasure of finding a one-of-a-kind piece discovered on the modern equivalent of an archeological excursion. Of course, the process of discovery is rarely easy—and finding the right vintage shop is no exception. That's why V has rounded up a few of our favorites in New York, and talked with their owners about how they got their starts, and fashion's recent vintage resurgence.

Antoinette Brooklyn

Photo by KristenBlush.com

What is the story behind Antoinette Brooklyn?

Lexi Oliveri: The story (and name) behind the shop is really about my mom. Without her influence in fashion and overall consistent encouragement to own my own business one day, I wouldn't have opened Antoinette. The short story is that after 10 years in the fashion industry, I had some great experience under my belt and the timing was right. My mom had a collection of vintage pieces from as early as the 1930s to the 1990s, all of which she collected for herself to wear, and even things she would never wear, but loved to look at...my mom called it her version of art collecting. It was the beginning of 2011, I had been at Gap for over five years and I was at my desk surfing Craigslist. For some reason I searched "commercial real estate" and there it was: this teeny tiny store for rent, a boutique that just needed to be filled with some gems. The next day, I met with the landlord, called my mother and she said, "Do it, I have everything you need to fill it!" So I put a deposit down, and took a deep breath. I will never forget that feeling when I rolled up the gate unlocked the door and said to myself, "This is my store!" The next day, I called my old roommate from college who owns her own design company (Ice Cream Social) & asked her to design my shop's logo. I knew that if anyone could tell me whether the name I chose for the store would be perfect or not, it would be her. I told her Antoinette, after my mom, and she immediately replied with excitement, "It's perfect! now send me an inspiration board first thing in the morning so I can get started." As they say, the rest is history.

If you could describe your shop in one word, what would it be?

L: Nostalgia.

What is the coolest item you've had in the shop?

L: The coolest item I've had in the shop was—and I wish it were in my size, but had to let someone else enjoy it—my mom's 1970s red, white and blue jumpsuit.

How do you feel vintage pieces are affecting the fashion industry today?

L: Vintage pieces are affecting the fashion industry in an extremely important & creative way. Today, if not all fashion is influenced from decades past. A lot of my favorite local designers pop into the shop every once in awhile to see what we have and what they can buy or use as inspiration for their future season collection. Also a few well-known companies product developers shop us several times a year for vintage, which either end up using for inspiration or knocking off completely.

If you could ask any celebrity to model your items, who would it be and why?

L: Sienna Miller would be the celebrity I would ask to model for the shop. She has that effortless look, but also has an impeccable vintage style. I truly believe there are some people that can't pull off vintage for whatever reason, but Sienna looks amazing in any decade, especially the '60s (à la Factory Girl).

119 Grand Street Brooklyn, NY | www.antoinettebrooklyn.com

Awoke Vintage

What is the story behind Awoke Vintage?

Liz Powers: Growing up in Perth, Australia, I made my way through college selling at market stalls and pop-up stores. After visiting NYC in 2010 I decided to make it my home, so I searched high and low for the perfect location for my first real store. I found the spot on North 5th and Bedford in Brooklyn and it was perfect. That location became our flagship store—Awoke Vintage, selling our hand-picked vintage to visitors from all over America and the world. That was five years ago. Just last year, I opened a second store in Greenpoint, an area I really love spending time in. We source from America but also the rest of the world, our most important thing is to find a balance between quality pieces that are affordable.

If you could describe your shop in one word, what would it be?

L: Eclectic.

What is the coolest item you've had in the shop? 

L: That's like asking me to pick my favorite child! But.... in an old warehouse we found a pile of dead stock, immaculate wrangler denim flares that I love—still available at both our stores.

How do you feel vintage pieces are affecting the fashion industry today?

L: The proliferation of mass-produced fast fashion has created a demand for special, well- constructed, ethically-produced apparel. So many significant designers are using vintage for inspiration, so it’s easier than ever to find special vintage pieces that translate well into modern trends, whilst still being unique and of superior quality that will outlast anything you get from cheap chain stores by a million years.

If you could ask any celebrity to model your items, who would it be and why?

L: Our goal is to dress the everyday girl or boy on the street, irrespective of style or background. Having said that, we always get a kick out of Winona coming in.

Greenpoint Location:688 Manhattan Ave | Williamsburg Location: 132 North 5th St | www.awokevintage.com

La Petite Mort 

What is the story behind La Petite Mort?

Kara MullinsIt started as an argument that OJ lost haha. I had a bunch of inventory in our apartment at the time and OJ told me to “get it out/just go open up a store” so I did. We’ve always been a little unconventional and creative and wanted an outlet where we could share it with the world. We call it a boutique, but we really feel it’s a functional art gallery, as every piece of clothing has a story and every customer is a canvas.

If you could describe your shop in one word, what would it be?

Kara Mullins & Osvaldo Jimenez:  Orgasmic. (The name of the shop is La Petite Mort which literally means “The little death” in French, but is a metaphor for an orgasm…when you walk into the shop, there’s an excitement rooted in nostalgia from all of the one-of-a-kind items.)

What is the coolest item you've had in the shop? 

K & O: We had this amazing, museum-worthy punk jacket from the late '70s/early '80s–it had a huge painted Mickey Mouse with a Mohawk giving Goofy a bath on the back, and a bunch of pins and hand-painted PiL, Sex Pistols marks, etc.

How do you feel vintage pieces are affecting the fashion industry today?

K & O: It’s like a snake eating its own tail—fashion keeps evolving and recycling at the same time. Like back in the '90s they were making fashion to reflect the future while being inspired by the '80s/'70s and now we are creating fashion based on the past that also portrays what we think how we will dress in the future. I guess the fun is in the speculation and what sticks in the end.

If you could ask any celebrity to model your items, who would it be and why?

O: I come from a nightlife background where I treat everyone like a star. Confidence is the only celebrity to me. It doesn’t matter if you’re a socialite or secretary – if you have confidence then I want you in my shop.

K: We’ve had so many great people already come by the store! I think most of our wish list has definitely already been granted. We’ve dressed Jillionaire (from Major Lazer), Cat Marnell, J Patt (of The Knocks), P-Thugg (of Chromeo), Tangina Stone (musician), etc. – but the one that got away was FKA Twigs – she stopped by the store a year or two ago but I was too hungover from her concert the night before to even function. FKA Twigs: if you’re out there reading this – please come back so we can dress you!!

 

37 Orchard Street (between Hester and Canal) www.ShopLaPetiteMort.com

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