Why Shop Vintage Fashions?
“What are you wearing?” That was one of the first things my mother said when I arrived home for Christmas break. “It’s a coat, cape, thingymajig.” I rummaged through my head for some better adjectives. “What it looks like is a potato sack.” “Mom! It’s vintage.”
My mom has never really understood vintage shopping or thrifting as we North Americans call it. She has never been a fan of tiny stores overflowed with stock, or the way you have to rifle through racks of clothing to sometimes, find nothing. Once in a while, on those rare visits, I would catch her crinkling her nose because of that “old people smell”. Her philosophy is “why pay more for old clothes when you could be buying new ones?”
Crispian Underwood has been running vintage store Stella Luna for over eighteen years. Her store is located in Roncesvalles, a relatively quiet area, a little away from the main track of downtown Toronto. Stella Luna is a small store, always overflowing with well curated pieces, carefully organized by style and color. Underwood’s customers are often local but some come from all over the world. She finds that her younger clients are usually looking for one of a kind vintage design pieces that still look relevant today, while her older clients appreciate the fabric and quality found in the clothing from their youth. Others like thrifting because they are environmentally conscious shoppers who like the idea that shopping – second-hand – can reduce waste.
As a fashion student, I like to thrift and shop vintage for these and many more reasons. As much as I adore big chain stores like Top Shop and Urban Outfitters, it’s nice to own something special that I know others can’t purchase.Unusual styles such as high waist bottoms, full skirts, and oversized sweaters do wonders for height and body type.
Owning a piece that is unique and hard to find, gives me a sense of exclusivity. Finally, the simple act of thrifting is a thrill for me. With technology today, all information is at your finger tips, easily accessible wherever you are in the world. Checking online to see what styles and products are available in which stores can be done with the click of a button. Thrifting has an element of mystery and surprise.
On my visit at Stella Luna, for example, I found a number of shirts I really liked – some had really cute prints on them, one with umbrellas and ballet slippers I just loved. – To my disappointment, none of them were in my size.
Ready to give-up and go home empty hand, I came across the perfect 80’s oversized mohair sweater and a shirt with a Parisian scene printed on it.
This is the reality of thrifting: you never know when new stock is going to be put out or when you may find that vintage Dior dress just in your size, at an amazing price.
Sure, you run the risk of disappointment, but the possibility of going back home with a coat that resemble a potato sack is certainly going to keep me going.