"Sometimes I feel like I'm walking through time; I feel like I've been here before. There are so many patterns and materials these days that are synthetic. It's like the quality is gone and it's only about consumption. There's this attitude of 'Well, if I could afford me a fancy suit.' Well, you can. You can go to a thrift store and you can find suits from the '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, and '70s. You can get it hemmed and fitted and fitted and it's a brand-new suit. And it's already lived, I don't know how many lifetimes. I think that's wonderful and remarkable."
Source: Elle Radar; Cat Power article and interview with Marcel Anders: 'Finding her voice', Elle Canada November 2012 Issue no. 137, Pages 112-114
While reading, I already had this on my mind as I was earlier talking about thrift stores and trying to figure out where the appeal lies, how interested society is in the concept of recycled clothing and how you can achieve success as a store owner or somebody trying to make a living by selling vintage. I was in Toronto a few weekends ago and visited many thrift stores I hadn't been to before, mainly clothing stores on Ossington street and Queen West, that appealed to me so much. I fell in love with little things in each shop, like structural features of certain locations: high ceilings, exposed brick, and most of all a bit of character. The store Chosen (handpicked vintage, on Queen West) had an architectural feature that I fell in love with. The owners of the store before the current ones had part of the doorway of a church installed into the wall which separates the fitting rooms from the rest of the store.
I don't know if this type of doorway has a name or not, but I'd describe it as chapel-esque. This is me, trying on the dress I bought at Chosen vintage. I was also in love with the little things, like for instance the cacti in not just this store but a few others as well. If not cacti, then plants of some sort.
Terraniums and candles are a nice touch to a vintage shop:
As are unique elements hidden throughout, like this collaged wallpaper in the fitting room at a store on Ossington:
I know that people like myself are going to notice and appreciate every minor detail, like this. I must've spent 3x as long trying things on because I was staring at the walls, and taking pictures of course. I found out later that the Beavis and Butthead bra and panties is a piece by Sophie Convey, one of my favourite bloggers!
If I had my own store I would finally put all my knick knacks to good use, put everything out on display and just go for a kitschy look/ hope for the best. I have so many ceramic cats, so I thought it was fantastic when we found some in the fitting rooms at Chosen:
This type of aesthetic isn't always cohesive, for example there were minimalistic and spooky/religious vibes to the front of the store Chosen, but more colourful, friendly and dainty details in the back. The fitting room curtains stood out on their own;
Because galaxy prints and space inspired fabrics will always be cool in my opinion.
I am constantly making notes on things I'd like to try in the future, ideas for business ventures or art projects, interior design, etc. In school we had an entire course on store planning and I really did love coming up with the inspiration and ideas. It's always been my dream to have my own store one day and part of working towards that is knowing as much as I can about the type of store I'd want to own, why it would succeed (or why not), what I need to do to attract consumers, how to keep people interested and to be able to offer something different, or something new.
To relate back to the original quote by Chan Marshall; I think thrift stores and the idea of being able to buy vintage clothes from many different eras is always going to be popular for certain types of individuals. My aunt was saying that when she was 17 or 18 she would shop in downtown Toronto, trying to find things from the 50's. Now decades later I'm doing the same thing, usually falling in love with pieces from the 60's to the 80's, sometimes the older or rarer- the better. Quality clothing (like wine!) gets better with age. It's a constant treasure hunt and it's a great way (if you're interested in fashion) to explore different looks, periods of time; to be able to have something that almost no one else would, and knowing that you were lucky enough to come across it plays into the appeal. It helps that the prices are generally lower than if you were buying the same product new from a non-thrift store.
I got a fantastic pair of boots, and I have never seen another pair like them. They are cowboy boots, and though I can't be sure of the year they'd be from, they are in great condition. They cost me $45. I don't need to look at prices of shoes in retail stores to know that a really nice pair of boots would cost me at the least the same price, but most likely more. And they wouldn't have the charm, and the unique quality that my vintage boots do. So I suppose part of the reason I love second hand shopping so much is the personal attachment I get to my purchases.
These are said boots, from Penny Arcade vintage on Ossington. I saw them as soon as I walked in the store and fell in love right away. I looked at everything else in the store and then came back to them to contemplate, and to try them on. The girl working there estimated that they were a size 7.5 which would be too small for me since my feet are 8-8.5 and cowboy boots especially fit snug. However, it was a Cinderella story when I slipped my foot in; it was a perfect fit. I can't say why exactly, I just think they are the most perfect boots I've ever seen. My family doesn't agree. Please, by all means let me know what you think about them! Leave a comment if you think they are awesome, I need to know I'm not the only one who appreciates their beauty. I'm extremely picky about cowboy boots, and they can be difficult to style an outfit with, but I hope to get a lot of wear out of these.
When I go into these thrift stores, they are playing music like Jimi Hendrix, or Thin Lizzy, or anything that isn't from this decade. They smell old, sort of musky and sometimes of leather. The decor is old, and even in most cases the light fixtures are retro. Everything about these stores is reminiscent of the past. It's like a time machine. Only the employees and customers are young. A lot of older people, some family members of mine included, don't understand what the appeal is. I can understand that people who have already lived through certain trends may not want to revisit them, or are surprised when somebody young does want to. However, it's obvious that there is a large demographic of people who are still heavily invested in retro culture and constantly looking back rather than forward. It's not a bad thing by any means, it's just curious how some things never change, because I'd still anticipate that by 2050 my kids or grandkids, or whoever, are going to be looking back to the early 2000's for inspiration, for hidden gems, for fashion, for antiques. So I've got to take good care of my most prized possessions so that they can be loved again by someone else in the future.