What do Rachel Zoe, Sophia Amoruso, and Shaira Luna have in common? A deep affection for vintage shopping. And if their statement-making style isn’t enough reason for you to visit the nearest thrift shop, then we’ll give you more reasons why.
Preview sat down with vintage enthusiast and young designer Fed Pua to talk vintage shopping. You may know him from his vintage-inspired clothing line, Factory and his curated vintage shop ItsVintageVintage. We muse of history, sustainability, and other things to show just how special vintage is.
Fed traces his love for vintage shopping from his love of nostalgia in general. “My parents’ first business was importing furniture from China, they have a mutual love for nostalgia and I think I got it from them,” he says. His first experience with vintage clothing is no different from everyone’s–hand-me-downs. This shaped Fed’s shopping mentality; “Would you give your future kid a cheap top from fast fashion? You’ll probably just throw it away right? But if it’s something like a Levi's denim that lasts forever, you can keep it and pass it on to your kid and for future generations.” If you ask us, quality clothing works as perfectly as an heirloom piece, just like jewelry or accessories.
There’s something special about knowing that a certain piece of clothing has lived through something or someone. Fed loves history and spends a good amount of his time visiting ancestral homes in the Philippines. Fed looks at little details, such as torn fabric or aged leather, as an indication of a story instead of defects. He mentions that one of his favorite pieces is a baseball T-shirt purchased from a Japanese vintage store that had a drawing of Olongapo, Subic. “Japan sources from the States so that [shirt] was probably from when Subic was still occupied by the Americans, then he [the owner] probably took it back to the States, and it ended up in Japan,” he says. Clothing pieces truly transcend aesthetic value when you know of the rich history attached to it.
3. The Element of Surprise
Going into a vintage shop means not knowing what’s to come out of it. Fed likens the feeling to Japanese arcade toys, wherein you feed it a coin, and get a capsule, not knowing what you’re going to get until you open it. “That’s what really got me into the cycle,” he says, musing how the feeling of surprise gets his heart racing. A word of advice: do not enter a thrift shop expecting to find a luxury vintage piece. “That’s why when someone finds a designer piece, it’s in the news, because it doesn’t happen every day,” Fed says. It’s better to enter a vintage shop without expectations, and instead, just an eager attitude to get down, dirty, and dig!
One of the biggest reasons why second-hand shopping is highly appraised today is its environmental impact. Fed mentions the hard truth, which is that the fashion industry is one of the largest pollutants in the world, and mentions how vintage shopping is a good alternative to buying fast fashion. “[Vintage shopping] doesn’t compromise what you’re looking for, and at the same time, you save the planet.” In this regard, Fed calls vintage shopping a “win-win situation.” Finding treasure in what someone once threw out is like participating in fashion’s own recycling system.
When you find something one-of-a-kind, it serves as a learning experience to sharpen one’s own sartorial sensibilities. For Fed, one of his original motives for vintage shopping was his desire to stand out, which would have hardly been possible if he was shopping at mainstream mall stores. He says, “Fast fashion is quite homogenous; you end up looking like everyone.” Fed humorously explains how vintage shopping can bring forth originality in anyone: “You can put what we call a ‘basic’ person in a vintage shop, and she’ll come out looking amazing,” he says laughing.
6. Loving Local
When we asked Fed about his dream vintage piece, on the grounds that money was no object, and that he was in the holy grail of vintage shops in places such as New York or Paris, he says he’d love to find a Philippine-made piece. Unknown to most people, the Philippines has a wealth of vintage pieces yet to be discovered. “In the States and Japan, everything was made in a world-wide scale, while in the Philippines, it’s made for Filipinos lang.” That said, Filipino pieces are scarcer, and all the more valuable.