New collections come and go, but in the end, nothing feels as good as the timelessness of vintage. The Society Archive, a stylist-curated retailer of rare vintage finds from fashion and accessories to books and art, opened its by-appointment showroom during New York Fashion Week, and it seemed to be the most truly exciting event during these hectic couple of days. But The Society Archive isn’t just about selling vintage. The brainchild of the runway and editorial stylist Marcus Allen, the brand weaves a complex narrative capturing moments of past youth – the result being an extremely covetable time capsule of seasonally curated selections of vintage and ephemera paired with a curated edit of must-haves from The Society Archive’s capsule collection of designs. Hard-to-find pieces from pretty much every decade are hand-selected and styled together with a couple of in-house designed essentials, creating a cohesive collection. According to this Vogue feature, Allen especially has a long history with Abercrombie & Fitch. The stylist estimates he has more than 1,000 items, some of which date back to the 1960s. Allen worked at the infamous “all-American” mall brand when he was in high school in a small town outside of Boston. But his obsession boils down to the quality of yesteryear Abercrombie & Fitch, not its ethos that’s promoted today. “The technical and fleece vests are all Patagonia-level quality,” he says. “All of the distressing and vintage details are super authentic and not contrived-feeling at all.” Allen is not the only collector; there is a community of Abercrombie & Fitch archivists in Japan, which is primarily where he gets his pieces. “While runways were informing what mall brands were doing design-wise, they – A&F, etc. – were not skimping on the quality of the pieces.” He makes the comparison with a pair of jeans. “I have 5-pocket leather Gap bootcut jeans that are the same exact quality and cut of a pair of Tom Ford-era Gucci ones,” he says. And as a testament to the quality, currently, Allen keeps the first piece he ever bought, a multi-color striped Shetland wool sweater in his freezer.
So, what can you get from The Society Archive’s current capsule? First of all, some big styling ideas for autumn season – the look-book photos are just too inspiring! There’s The Face’s iconic issue 22 featuring Kate Moss photographed by Corinne Day. A vintage Banana Republic t-shirt which has the best imaginable fit. A couple of 1960s flannel shirts – to die for. Maybe a classic, over-sized A&F hoodie? I certainly need these beige snow pants, like now.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki. Don’t forget to follow Design & Culture by Ed on Instagram!
As spring is approaching, I’ve got one collection on my mind: Ralph Lauren‘s spring-summer 2003 line-up. This one is like wine – it gets better with time. On the 20th of September in 2002, in the middle of New York Fashion Week, Lauren pitched an enormous muslin-draped tent, filled with white cushions, huge candles and twinkling crystal chandeliers – in the lush walled gardens of the Cooper-Hewitt Museum. Entering the building, the audience was met with trays of champagne, while the smell of tuberose and the strains of Erik Satie wafted through the evening air. If that wasn’t enough to induce a romantic swoon, the clothes would have done the trick. Lauren loves the womanly silhouette of the fin-de-siècle, with its nipped waist and curving hips. For spring he chose to highlight that silhouette with regal fabrics like damask, jacquard and silk moire, made into curvy jackets, bustiers and vests, and shown with creamy linen or silk trousers or light, pretty skirts. There were great leather pieces, gilded or printed with a wallpaper floral, and beautiful, skin-baring silk chiffon dresses. While Lauren makes no secret of his love for the past, that season he was resolutely modern: for evening, he showed a beaded top with a floor-length bustle skirt made from very distressed blue denim. This feels so good in 2022!
Recently, I’ve hunted down an extremely rare (and chic!) Chloé by Stella McCartney viscose top, which appears to be a fashion show piece. Each Chloé by Stella garment has that super-cool, vintage charm – especially all the t-shirts wth the designer’s off-kilter prints and hilarious motifs (like the iconic pineapples and kitschy horses). For autum-winter 2001, Stella McCartney continued with her exploration of grown-up, couture-inspired silhouettes for Chloé, without forgetting about the youthful, fun-loving basics that were the label’s bread and butter. We should remember that McCartney’s ability to glam up casual street clothes made Chloé cool again at the beginning of the century. The variation of the print (an illustration of a mysterious girl) was used in a number of opening looks that season, and both Stella and her dad Paul wore it on the day of the runway presentation. If you would love to have that major piece of fashion history in your wardrobe, a very good condition, size M blouse is waiting for you on my @loveyouinvintage Insta-shop (and Vestiaire Collective page)!
It’s no news that vintage became our (old) new favourite way to shop – especially now, during the global pandemic. Some consumers are thinking deeply about their carbon footprint for the first time, look towards a sustainable lifestyle or simply want a true, one-of-kind gem in their wardrobe. Although I’m selling vintage for years now with on Vestiaire Collective (find my page here!), I just now started buying vintage for myself. I follow plenty of vintage lovers and collectors, from the well-known ones (like Alexander Fury and Shrimpton Couture) to emerging names, and I feel constantly inspired by their knowledge and fresh take on wearable fashion history. There’s a whole huge splash of vintage shops on Instagram lately, but it’s really not just about having that 2000s Dior Saddle bag or a Jean Paul Gaultier tattoo top in store. A truly succesful, digital vintage spot doesn’t imitate anything else – the key is an authentic personal style, which sharply curates the new arrivals and drops. Below, you will find my favourite five Instagram feeds that sell the most exciting vintage fashion, from archival Prada skirts and over-the-top Blumarine dresses to hand-knitted vests and Anna Sui shearling jackets. And so much more, because brilliant vintage isn’t just about the tag, but the soul of the garment!
Olivia Haroutounian‘s Real Life As Liv is one of the hottest (and unique) on-line vintage shops out there. In her styling photos, the 22-year-old college student frequently wears vintage Manolo Blahnik kitten heels, ugly-chic Prada skirts and Anna Molinari velvet coats. She’s been a collector since she was 10 years old, so it was only a matter of time that she become a vintage seller. Now, her sales pay her tuition at the University of Houston, where she studies corporate communication with a minor in anthropology. Her brand new on-line shop is a treasure chest, including such finds as boldly printed Xuly Bet tops, Ozbek lace dresses, fluffy Miu Miu bags, a velvet Chanel evening dress or a cute Anna Sui hoodie. You just won’t buy something that isn’t in Olivia’s personal, fantastically eclectic style. Moreover, Haroutounian is obsessed with the Sex & The City wardrobe, and it’s truly exciting to see her finds she shares on Instagram (lately, she posted a sheer Marc Jacobs dress from 1998, which was worn by Carrie in an alternate intro version of the show!). “I truly believe that the vintage market is going to become as big as retail and as powerful,” she told Vogue’s Liana Satenstein (the founder of Schmatta Shrink!) in an interview. “Keeping that in mind, the most important thing to me is keeping it accessible and realizing that my business is a vehicle for promoting being environmentally conscious. Also, educating people on fashion history and designers people have forgotten about or never heard of.”
This is not only one of my favourite on-line vintage shops, but also one of my favourite feeds to follow on Instagram! Desert Vintage sells truly beautiful garments, and they also create incredible editorials featuring the rare pieces. The story of this vintage business is equally compelling. Desert Vintage was founded in 1974 on the boulevard of 4th avenue in Tucson, Arizona. In July of 2012, Salima Boufelfel and Roberto Cowan took over the already established Desert Vintage, with the desire to curate an undeniably stylish and eclectic mix of true vintage items for both men and women. Desert Vintage has come to be known as a great source for excellent, one-of-a-kind vintage pieces of quality and flair. They not only share a passion for vintage and antique items, but also love the art of mixing and styling collections in a contemporary and wearable way. The Desert Vintage website offers a variety of items that encapsulate the ultimate vision we have for the company. Throughout the website, you will find an eclectic mix of vintage that spans from the turn of the century through the 1970’s – like a Halston sequined dress or Chloé by Karl Lagerfeld gown. The inventory is forever revolving, and includes textiles from around the world, jewelry and leather collection of wearables and accessories.
Archive Club is based in Warsaw and was founded by Emma Knaflewska. This vintage shop is absolutely extraordinary, and if you seek vintage Prada or underground Japanese labels, this is a digital heaven. Also, Archive Club’s aesthetic is so, so oddly phenomenal. Here’s an excerpt from their website, because it utterly explains the experimental spirit of this shop: “Who still remembers the year of 1586? That’s when I founded my shop, Archive Club. At first glance, it may seem strange. I mean, it was ages ago. Believe me, the flow of time is something quite illusive. Sometimes it feels like I remember what happened 420 years ago better then yesterday. I recall that objects meant something different back then. They say that when choosing one’s clothes or arranging one’s apartment, we reveal our personality (or put on a mask). Few centuries ago it was more of a mutual relationship. These objects could take hold of us or at least tell us something. The clothes we’re selling are ancient shells of our material existence. These shells cannot be heard anymore, we’ve lost our connection to them. We treat items as inanimate objects, but surely they can speak to us. In the recent past it was understood in the time of Fin-de-siècle. Unless you talk to your shoes sometimes too?”
Lucia Zolea‘s carefully curated drops sell out in minutes. No wonder why, really – those pieces are just too good. A signature Lucia Zolea look? One of her cute knitted cardigans with roses or sheeps, a silk, pink night-gown (worn during the day!) and a 70s necklace with adorable, beaded flowers. I bet dozens of brands keep Zolea’s photos on their mood-boards.
Nong Rak is a Thai and American owned creative studio centered in sourcing and selling vintage and antique clothing, as well as working with photography, styling, creative direction, sustainable garment design and interdisciplinary design. Whether it’s a Victorian lace dress and early 80s Missoni cardigan or a 60s Woolrich blanket coat or one of Nong Rak’s “debris” crotchet designs, their idiosyncratic selection is all about intriguing textures, timeless quality and bold style. This is a vintage wonderland, I tell you.
“Live” collage by Edward Kanarecki. Photos sourced from the vintage stores’ Instagram pages and websites.
Looking for a well-curated vintage store in Berlin‘s Mitte district? I’m sure The Golden Circus will please you in every possible way. The place is a fruit of a long-life passion for fashion and crafts that Sonia, the owner, has. Ancient silk kimonos made according to traditional Japanese techniques; ethnic textiles from Central Asia; handmade accessories (if you’re here, note Caralarga, a Mexican jewellery brand, and those Sicilian bags from 1950s Italy); vintage clothing from Burberry, Moschino and others. “Wearing these pieces, Sonia explains, makes you aware of the incredible amount of work and the fantastic workmanship that was put into them. In this sense, all of them are real treasures.” Can’t agree more with that. Rather than going for another mass-produced coat, why not invest in a piece that has its story?