We have an intense love affair with vintage items here at The Shudio. The craftsmanship, the personal touches of mending or alterations that allowed their original owners to cherish them for years on end, the nostalgia of days gone by. It's all terribly romantic, but also the most eco-friendly way you can shop for new [to you] items for your wardrobe. [We do recommend remixing / altering what you currently own, or swapping items with friends before looking to purchase new, if a sustainable wardrobe is your main goal.]
When we are sourcing fresh vintage for the shop, we have two tests the item usually must pass to make it onto our racks and online shop:
1: is it a natural textile that will feel good against your skin?
2: is it a classic style that will acclimate easily into wardrobes?
By focusing on natural fabrics [ie: silk, linen, cotton, wool and rayon*], we ensure that not only will the items be comfortable to wear, but when laundered, they don't release harmful microplastics into our water systems. Natural textiles also don't hold onto bodily odors or even sometimes stains as strongly as synthetic fabrics. Not to mention, you can't beat the breathability of a silk, linen or cotton blouse in the warmer months!
We also know many folks have negative or skewed opinions towards vintage clothing.. "it looks like a costume" is a common one, "what would I even wear this with?" is a dilemma many customers face as well. We side step the former by bringing in items that feel at once modern, yet possessing defining aesthetics of their decade, but for the latter.. ripped denim. Said denim can also be vintage, but by pairing something 'precious' like a beaded 50s cardigan, or delicate, silk, slip dress with distressed denim, the look feels instantly effortless and sartorially fresh. You can of course wear those same items for special occasions, but we are all about getting as much wear as possible out of your wardrobe.*Though rayon is derived from natural materials, it requires certain chemicals, so it's technically considered to be a semi-synthetic fabric. we still find it's movement, drape and breathability on par with our other natural textiles.
We are lucky to have a few avenues to pursue when it comes to selecting vintage apparel and accessories for our customers. We accept certain items on a consignment basis, provided the pieces fit in with our guidelines [natural fabrics + classic styles] and have made dear friends through the process like the inimitable Barbara Kasten who has compiled a wardrobe even the least fashion obsessed individual would covet.
We will also frequent estate sales, antique malls, thrift stores, and private buys to source items. We will admit, the thrill of the hunt in a peddler mall or off the beaten path secondhand shop holds the most allure, though seasoned thrifters know that frequency is key, and no one finds gems on every single hunt. On that same thought, we also understand that thrift stores offer quality clothing at affordable prices for many communities [Merl, our owner grew up shopping at them] and make strides to source outside the city where access to public transit is not available. Secondhand shops are also inundated with thousands of items every day, and by pulling vintage items out occasionally, we are doing our part to limit the amount of textile waste produced.