A Stitch In Time: The Best Vintage Clothing Stores In India
It’s no coincidence that vintage clothing stores (both online and offline) have increased in number when the world is moving towards sustainable ways of living. After all, that knitted hand-me-down sweater from your granny would hold a unique value in your wardrobe, only making it harder to discard. Apart from being exclusive to the wearer, vintage clothing speaks of a decade that you might not have lived in, but have an option to experience it by merely owning a piece. Since the zeitgeist for the year speaks of recreating the past, we kick start this year by highlighting brands that are, in their own ways, creating a niche for thrifty finds.
BODEMENTS By Martin and Divya Saini, Mumbai
Why did you feel the need to start selling vintage clothing?
After a trip in Europe, Divya realised that there was a void in India for this type of fashion. Second-hand clothing isn’t new to India: saris have been passed on from one generation to the next in most families. But until recently, most people here were quite reluctant to buying a garment that belonged to a stranger. Fortunately, mentalities are changing, and so are aesthetics.
How do you source the products? How do you prove its authenticity?
Every piece is handpicked by us during our annual trip to Europe. This process is crucial, because many vintage shops buy in bulk from specialised vendors or source from cheap Chinese exporters, and this is against our ethos. When we purchase designer pieces, we know how to make sure they are real. Each brand has its own series of typical aspects that help you to identify authentic pieces, like the way the tags are printed, the seaming techniques and the materials that are used.
THE SALVAGE STORY By Afifah, New Delhi
Who is your target audience and what’s been the response so far?
I have streamlined the clothes I procure into three genres: hipster, vintage-inspired and bohemian. My target audience comprises people who have the abovementioned style inclinations, are interested in sustainable fashion and/or wish to shop affordably. The response so far makes me feel positive that I’ve been able to carve a niche in the sustainable fashion space.
How do you decide the pricing for the products?
While pricing any product, I keep in mind their quality, uniqueness, brand as well as my own efforts of procuring, refurbishing and other logistics. However, since there is always a chance of pricing clothes too high and losing out on people, I try to keep the prices significantly lower than fast fashion brands.
MIRINWON By Ngahon Tungshangnaom, Ukhrul
How do you go about sourcing your collection?
One can say sourcing is like a little scavenger hunt. I visit every thrift store in Manipur, and also travel to different cities. Internet helps in proving authenticity by comparing code numbers on the items. As time goes by, you end up learning which ones are fake and which ones are authentic. Through Mirinwon, I want to make vintage clothing accessible to all.
Do you think vintage fashion is more of a fad in the minds of the consumer?
It is definitely not a fad. But it’s not a trend either. Vintage is more classic and it has always been there from the past and I believe it will continue to maintain its place in fashion even in the future.
AIMA VINTAGE Pearl D’souza, Mumbai
How did your liking for vintage clothing come about?
Hand-me-downs were the norm growing up in my family. We always thrifted and it was because of my grandma and aunt that I found my love for vintage. They kept almost every clothing item they could, dating back to the ‘60s. They also stitched their own clothes whenever they could. With an environment like that, almost 80 per cent of my wardrobe is either a hand-me-down or thrifted/ vintage item. I decided to start a small IG shop to sell pieces that neither of my friends wanted. That’s when Aima Vintage began.
As a brand selling only on Instagram, how do you come up with the pricing for the products?
I noticed a lot of vintage stores priced their items very high, and second-hand IG stores priced theirs really low. The difference is I refrain from selling secondhand fast fashion. Adding shipping costs plus shipping materials into the price was a major factor. The quality, brand, uniqueness of a vintage piece, all contribute to the final price. Another major factor is that we’ve got 100 percent eco-friendly packaging — from paper tape to acid-free paper & even vegetable ink. All of it wasn’t cheap and took us a long time to source through trial and error, which also reflects in our prices.
FOLK PANTS Lumri Jajo, Ukhrul
What made you start a brand that sells vintage clothing?
We’ve always been interested in fashion from a young age and were inspired by our mom’s style. Our town has a lot of shops that sell second-hand clothes and we grew up wearing it. Having that experience made us appreciate the difference in what we wear and how we shop. The pieces we curate are a mix of secondhand, vintage, contemporary and local made products.
Who has been your target audience?
Our target audience is mostly college students, therefore our items are affordable. We curate womenswear, unisex and menswear clothing items.
THE GUIDE TO BE A SUSTAINABLE SHOPPER
Obviously the most sustainable clothes are the ones that don’t need to be produced. Here are a few questions we like asking ourselves before buying a new piece:
-Do I really need this piece?
-Do I already own something that serves the same purpose?
-Will it elevate my wardrobe?
THE SALVAGE STORY
Shopping second-hand, investing in pieces which will last many seasons, taking good care of existing wardrobe, and shopping only when you absolutely need something are some ways of being a sustainable shopper.
Be more precise and selective in what you buy. That is one way that will contribute to sustainability as well as your bank account.
Shop small, shop second hand. Vintage pieces need a little bit of T|LC, and they will remain timeless staples for years to come.
We believe that each individual has the ability to be aware and responsible while consuming, which includes buying items that are biodegradable as well as locally-made.