There’s something special about sifting through racks of random clothing from a vintage or thrift store and finding the one piece that catches your eye. The way it’s faded, maybe torn or in mint condition; it’s realising that you’re holding a tangible piece of history. It’s seeing first-hand how the culture of a time long gone has dropped into your arms, that makes the world of vintage clothing so unique. It’s a way of experiencing a vivid image of the past, without ever having been there. Vintage Marketplace in Northcote and Geelong offers this nostalgia, one piece at a time. We spoke to owner and curator, Jai Spence, about the importance of vintage in the current market.
What does vintage mean to you? How do you curate specific vintage pieces make it accessible to the consumers?
Vintage to me has always meant the very best of something, it has never had anything to do with a particular year. Although when I consider the majority of our demographic is 17-25, then something could be vintage if the customer buying wasn’t born at the time the item was produced. As crazy as it sounds, I would consider something made in 2000 to be vintage to a lot of our customers.
Where would you place vintage in relation to streetwear today?
In terms of trends, vintage as an inspiration to designers has always been huge, but in more recent times through social media, the ‘influences’ are even more relevant to brands. Supreme seems to have a special recipe that everyone is trying to discover. I’m sure they give plenty of things away, but when a rapper wears Supreme it never appears to be a publicity stunt. The more underground and exclusive they tried to be, the bigger they became. Hip-hop has continued to completely take over the fashion world and with the combination of social media, it’s hard to see it slowing down anytime soon.
Are fashion trends of today something you keep an eye on when deciding what pieces go through Vintage Marketplace?
One of the best things about opening a physical storefront is seeing what customers are wearing. I get a lot of inspiration from them. We’re in a great position now where we have suppliers all over the world that curate pieces for us to select from each week. Every now and then they’ll display something you haven’t seen or thought of in your current sourcing strategy, whether that’s a pop culture reference or just a brand that hasn’t been in existence.
Where did the inspiration to add streetwear into a vintage store come from?
We’ve always had streetwear brands in store, the reality is that it is always harder to sell. I remember in 2011 I picked up a bunch of Supreme hats from the store in LA and I could barely sell them. Then Tyler the Creator wore one to the MTV awards and they sold out the next day. Everything we sell, whether it’s 30-years old, 10-years old or brand new, is streetwear-influenced in some way.
Heritage brands have collaborated a lot with high-end designers of late, such as Tommy Hilfiger x Vetements and Kappa x C2H4. What are your thoughts on these types of collaborations?
I think lots of brands have tried so hard to stay away from streetwear but now realise to stay up with the trends, they have no choice [but to indulge]. James Jebbia of Supreme and Virgil Abloh of Off-White being nominated for the CDFA fashion awards is evidence enough. How much did Jebbia just sell a share of Supreme for? And who is Virgil working for now?
For Vintage Marketplace, it’s great. Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren – all these big brands have always been our best sellers and they continue to be our best sellers. The introduction of exclusive streetwear items has brought a new demographic to our store and even they go home with the aforementioned.
Do you think there’ll always be a place for vintage in terms of fashion trends today?
I wouldn’t be sitting here with you right now if I didn’t, right? So, yes. It’ll always be a hustle, but that’s the fun part.
Attend the ‘Vintage Marketplace x Tibbs & Bones Shopping Day’. Learn more here.
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- Writer: Ethan Cardinal