I have been wracking my brain lately trying to think of something that’s missing from The Uglies. The editors have all been doing such a great job! And then it hit me: we have interviews with Chic People, and the new Chic Swap, but I do not believe I have ever seen an interview with any of Chictopia’s lovely vintage sellers. Thus, I bring you the first in a series of Chic Shop Interviews!
My first interviewee, who currently resides in Los Angeles, brings that perfect mod sense of vintage to the Chictopia community. You can’t but be envious of her platinum locks and killer collection of nautical-inspired dresses. Meet Renee of Castaway Vintage.
Where are you from?
I grew up in Syracuse, NY then moved to New York City ten years ago to attend college at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and lived there until Spring 2008 when I left to travel the world with my boyfriend. We ended up in Los Angeles after our travels, where we have lived for about a year and a half.
When and why did you start selling vintage?
I started selling vintage clothing just under a year ago, the end of last summer was my first attempt at it, but wasn’t full fledged selling until just about six months ago. Around November/December is when I opened Castaway Vintage on Etsy with my boyfriend. When I lived in NYC I worked two jobs and went to school full time, so I didn’t really have a lot time for shopping, and since New York is notorious for having high-priced vintage clothing, I started shopping online a lot for vintage clothing. I would end up back at the same shops online and would just be really amazed by their selection, and thought to myself “I would really like to have my own shop.” I thought about while I was still in the city but didn’t really have the time or resources without a car and already working so much to make it happen. The idea of being my own boss and being able to turn something I enjoy doing already into a business, and being able to share my finds with other people was really appealing. Once I left New York and came out to Los Angeles I started to think about it a lot more. Vintage clothing is so plentiful here and I just started doing the research in what I would need to do to make my thoughts a reality. I had done a small stint on eBay when I first started out, but not being very computer and camera savvy that platform wasn’t really the best for me at the time. I put the shop on the backburner for awhile to make some improvements before starting the shop on Etsy about six months ago.
What do you love about vintage clothing and fashions?
I’ve been wearing vintage clothing since I was a teen in high school (the ‘90s—funny now that decade is considered vintage!) and at that time it was to separate myself from the crowd. These days my style may be different but I still enjoy the freedom and individuality that vintage clothing and fashion gives the wearer. I love how you can transport yourself to another decade and time of life simply by putting on a piece of vintage clothing, being able to create really unique looks by incorporating different decades of vintage clothing with modern pieces. It’s just fun to try on and dress up in vintage clothing that has a style that isn’t seen in all the stores in the modern world. There are just so many cuts and colors that simply are not produced anymore and can only be found through vintage clothing. I also love how vintage clothes are constructed. The fabrics and care and attention put into most vintage clothing items are crafted just so much better than the ready made mass produced clothing out there for sale today. Even high priced designer items can be of really low quality these days.
Do you have a favorite decade?
My favorite decade would definitely have to be the 60s. I absolutely adore mod fashion, Twiggy style-mini dresses, stewardess dresses, the music of the decade: the Beatles, Zombies, Yardbirds, Faces, Kinks, Brigitte Bardot, Nancy Sinatra, etc. I love the clean lines of 60s fashion, the skinny suits on men, over-sized sunglasses, the scooter girls. I’m always looking for mod dresses for my shop. They aren’t always that easy to find!
Describe the type of person who would love to shop at Castaway Vintage.
Cool, laid back, confident, independent, creative, pays attention to details but not overly primped. This is the girl that likes to stand out from the crowd, but not in a crazy over the top way. A little bit edgy, a little bit trendy, a little bit artsy. The girl that follows fashion trends but isn’t a slave to them. Might find herself at an Indie rock show on a weeknight, going to art openings, sipping mimosas for weekend brunch. A person that loves 50s rockabilly pin up polka dots, and 60s mod striped and plaid mini dresses as much as I do, but is also happy just throwing on jeans and a tank top!
What makes Castaway Vintage unique?
There are tons of shops now selling vintage clothing, what I feel makes Castaway Vintage unique is that I do have a niche and certain aesthetic that I provide in my inventory. I come across hundreds if not thousands of items when shopping and pass up tons of things that are vintage if I feel they do not represent the style I want to go for. I have a very strong pull towards the 1950s and 1960s- full swing shirtdresses, mod mini dresses, items that are striped, polka dots, plaid, or nautical themed are mostly what you will find in my shop. I also try to carry vintage versions of current fashion trends- if it’s on the runway and I’m digging a trend and find a vintage version of something trendy (since fashion cycles around and most modern fashion is a remake of an earlier decade) I’ll put it in the shop. Castaway Vintage carries both bold printed, nautical themed, and classic previous era vintage clothing, as well as vintage current fashion trends.
What’s your favorite part about selling vintage clothing?
The treasure hunt! Shopping for vintage clothing you never know what you are going to find- it’s so fun and exciting! When I go into a shop or vintage market I could be going through hundreds of pieces, and starting to feel defeated not finding anything when all of the sudden a treasure pops up out of nowhere- pure adrenaline rush! Always having these new different pieces around, finding new ways to style old clothes is just really a lot of fun. Oh, and having a constant rotating closet of new finds isn’t too bad either.
Have any tips for vintage shoppers, especially those shopping online?
Know that it’s alright to try a new style, if you think you like something but have never worn anything like it before- just go ahead and try it out. Selling vintage clothing has opened my wardrobe up to possibilities I would have never thought of for myself just by trying something on I wouldn’t normally choose. I think the hardest part of shopping online for vintage clothing is simply that you can’t try it on, and that different decades the sizing varies so much! I think it’s important to know your measurements or measurements of a similar article you own to compare with an item you are thinking about buying. I always give measurements, my own body size as a reference, and an estimate of how things would fit in today’s world. Ask a seller questions if there is something you are unsure of in an online listing.
Why do you think it’s important to bring vintage to the Chictopia community?
Since Chictopia is a fashion based community, vintage clothing definitely has a strong presence and influence in modern fashion. Fashion always cycles back around so vintage clothing and eras will always be seen in modern fashion and design. Vintage is the backbone of today’s modern fashion world and really gives people the chance to mix up their wardrobe in ways that simply buying ‘new’ can not give, and also so many of today’s clothing is so expensive it’s so easy to find the vintage original version for a fraction of the price! Vintage clothing opens endless possibilities for creative personal style.
You can purchase some of Renee’s lovely items in the Castaway Vintage Shop.
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