Long Live Vintage ClothingWritten by Daniel L
Singapore-based Eden Tay and Eileen Tan are reviving the love for time-honoured clothing by delivering carefully curated vintage finds via their online store, Vintagewknd.
The duo behind Singapore-based Vintagewknd have sold a staggering 6,000 vintage and retro-inspired pieces to date on Carousell, a mobile shopping app for for buying and selling everything. Traveling abroad to source their collections and curating their finds with sophistication and style, this young couple is delivering retro styles and vintage clothing with the added ease of online shopping – hitting a new demographic and reviving its fortunes as they go.
Vintage clothing may not enjoy all the bells and whistles of its modern day contemporaries, but yesteryear’s designs are having a moment. Buys like the rockabilly dresses of the 1950s, disco-inspired prints of the 1970s or rare, vintage luxury finds are, in some circles now, as much a badge of fashion honour as the latest must-have item. Loved for their heritage, their nostalgic glamour and their unique take on cool, vintage pieces are in demand. Finding them, however, is not always easy. This is where Vintagewknd comes in.
For co-founders Eden and Eileen, it was a trip to Europe in 2015 that sparked the initial idea for their business. Eileen, a self-professed thrift store lover, had searched the local street markets for hidden gems, bringing back a haul of vintage clothing to Singapore. She decided to sell off her extra pieces and, to her surprise, found great demand. Sensing the potential in vintage wear, the enterprising couple decided to seize the opportunity and set up Vintagewknd, an online store that offers vintage fashion at affordable prices. Their collections start from SG$17 and thrift items are SG$15 and below. Recently, the couple brought their love for vintage clothing to the international market through Etsy, an ecommerce platform for handmade and vintage goods, listing premium pieces from anywhere between SG$40 to SG$90.
Behind the scenes, the couple run a tight ship fuelled by their entrepreneurial spirit. Both individuals model their clothing, and while Eden takes care of the day-to-day operations and finances, Eileen handles the marketing, styling and curation of all the items sold. The couple are jointly responsible for sourcing and handpicking new stock, a routine that occurs every three to four months. “About 50% to 60% of our apparel is sourced from Japan, with the rest coming from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Thailand and Europe. Once we brought back 400kg of clothing in three and a half days”, says Eden. Each trip costs a between SG$10,000 to SG$15,000 and usually involves one of the founders visiting their suppliers’ warehouses, where they comb through heaps of fabric in an effort to sort through clothing that is a mix of factory deadstock, recycled or upcycled vintage material and authentic vintage pieces.
Vintagewknd’s success can be attributed to a collection of factors. The main draw lies in the clothing’s authenticity and uniqueness. Each and every piece on their site tells a story and takes styling cues from a particular place and period in time. Then there’s the whole notion of exclusivity. Unlike fast fashion, everything is only available in one size, which puts their pieces in perpetual demand. “Our clothes are one of a kind, so you’re not going to find someone else wearing them,” Eileen explains. “We carry items that are more conservative compared to today’s standards, and this appeals to all generations and ethnicities. Some of our collections are loved by Muslim women as they come in conservative cuts and unique prints that fit into the cultural requirements for more modest wear.”
But commerce is just one half of the overall picture. This year, Vintagewknd is teaming up with the National Heritage Board for an exhibition at the Peranakan Museum that showcases traditional wear from various eras and ethnic groups. “We’re sourcing items from the 1920s-1970s to be part of the Photo Studio showcase,” Eden says. “We like to participate in arts and culture-related activities, and we’re glad Vintagewknd allows us to contribute meaningfully.”
Vintagewknd sees growth on the horizon. A men’s collection has made its debut, and a plus-sized range for women is slated to launch within the next few months. Partnerships with various marketplace platforms are also taking shape and Eden and Eileen have their eyes on America as being the next destination for their vintage finds. “We’re not going to restrict ourselves,” says Eden. “More product lines, platforms and partnerships, possibly manufacturing and design are in the works, we have lots of ideas to explore.” Lofty ambitious? Not for this couple.