Today's POP is Stephanie. Strutting away.
Ariana arrived rolling a vintage Gucci portable wardrobe which she enthusiastically opened to reveal an unbelievable range of archive designer pieces. One garment at a time, our jaws were on the floor. Issey Miyake, Chanel, Maison Martin Margiela, Vivienne Westwood, Balenciaga, Paco Rabanne, Yamamoto, and it just kept going… Complete. Fashion. Heaven. They officially have now upped Dover Street Market.
Finding and collecting these fantastic pieces is the absolute passion of STRUT shop owners Ariana and her mum Hanna Weldon. Part Maori part British, the mother-daughter duo scour the globe, and their neighbours, for these pieces. Their finds are housed in their 3 East London boutiques: Strut Broadway (on Broadway Market), Strut Church Street and Stroll (both in Stoke Newington).
I stopped by to speak with the extremely passionate ladies and left dreaming about a vintage Chanel tennis dress. I think I'll be returning sooner than I would have liked…
When and why did you decide to open a vintage shop?
A: We opened the original shop 3 years ago.
H: It seemed a natural progression, I had been selling to designers , and design teams, dealers and collectors anyway, and just drifted up the chain. Besides, shops are great for storage, there is only so much clothing any house can hold.
How did you begin?
H: I’ve always bought and sold vintage clothing, it’s something that’s always been very natural to me. I actually started out at 16 doing Wardrobe for film and Theatrein New Zealand, and it just progressed from there. Passion for vintage must be in the genes, and my daughter Ariana is now a partner in the business, bringing her creative energy to the table.
A: We’ve always been collecting clothes; we had a stall in Camden Market and and arche in Camden Market. But then Camden really slowed down because they really over built it. So then we found Stoke Newington, my mum moved it there and thought Church Street would be great.
H: I opened Strut three years ago in Stoke Newington, apart from being my home, it was also just screaming out for a shop like ours. I had noticed a lovely, but really run down shop, and knew it was the one. It helped that the interior looked like the inside of an old pirate ship, still does really.
A: Then we found the Broadway Market space and just thought it would be perfect. The building is really modern and industrial on the inside, so completely different from most vintage shops.
How has the business developed since opening?
A: We offer a really bespoke personal service. Not because we have to but because we love to. I love dressing people, and I love people who come in for weddings or red carpet events. I love dressing them, it makes me extremely excited. Our Stoke Newington shop has a loyal customer base, we really look after them. And Broadway Market, which is so new, we’ve already got a couple of loyal customers there, but I don’t think many people know about it yet.
Have you watched your east London surroundings change a great deal since opening? Has it been positive for the shop?
H: There has been a huge change, both in London Fields and Stoke Newington over the past few years. This continued gentrification is really why we are able to open here. It has its drawbacks though; the rise in property values ends up squeezing small independants out of the market, as landlords raise their rents. You look at Upper Street in Islington and see how it is now only the big chains that can afford the rents. I fear the same for Stoke Newington.The recent riots were a bit of a scare for everyone; it was a big reminder of the realities of living in an area with such extreme polarities of socio economic conditions.
“Vintage” seems to be a really over-used term, especially here in London. How do you stay away from preconceptions of vintage as you offer such fantastic, hand-selected pieces? And what do you think about the sort of vintage-culture here in London?
H: It is all in the hand selection of stock. There is nothing worse than a shop crammed with rails of stuff straight from some Canadian or French rag yard, only there because it’s old. Most pieces in my shops are there because I like them. I wont sell an item just because it has a label and similarly, I wont shy from a non branded piece if it has a detail about it that makes it sing.
It’s the vintage culture that keeps us in business. It’s all about the perception of being an individual. People love having that little unique twist to their outfit
“Where did you get that?”
“This great vintage store, and you can't copy it!”
How would you define “Vintage”?
A: I think there’s retro and then there’s vintage. And I think people get confused and have this preconception that vintage will be the same as retro which is sort of that garish 80’s kind of smelly all stuck together on a rail – and I think we’ve broken that sort of preconception of vintage with just really nicely spaced out and well-cut dresses.
H: On one level vintage should be 80’s and below with everything else retro but that isn’t really the case. I think it all comes down to the quality and importance of the garment as well as its age. All those polyester 70’s maxi dresses will forever be retro (Unless they have Emilio Puccis signature on them) and likewise a 90’s Antwerp Six design could still be vintage. I guess like beauty, it’s all in the eye of the beholder.
A: Vintage as a term has really been chucked around recently and now sort of means second-hand but we’re really trying to change that. Especially with our Broadway Market shop.
Its really like an archive…
A: Well that’s exactly what I tell people when I’m explaining vintage. That its sort of an antique and it will only go up and up in value . And you can have it and collect it forever.
What sort of dialogue takes place between your Church Street shop & Broadway Market Shop? What is different about the two locations?
H: The two shops are different businesses, and although similar, they are doing different things. We try to have something for everyone in Church Street and have clothing for most tastes, whilst still keeping an eye on quality . The Broadway shop has it’s stock more honed and I guess would suit a more fashion-orientated crowd.
A: The needs of Broadway market are a bit more high end – fashion i.e Rick Owens, Comme. Whereas Stokey is a bit more classic vintage, 20’s 30’s, 40’s, 50’s pieces. Broadway Market is very much more designer-based. I think the people around there are slightly more designer rather than vintage.
Where do you find them and how do you select the pieces?
H: There is a whole world of vintage dealers and sellers out there and I have developed a network of sellers over the years. Before the recession, I would jaunt off to New York and Paris, but the downfall of the pound has put an end to that, for now.
The best stuff ,however, just walks through the door of the shop. It’s amazing the clothing some people have stashed away, just sitting there in lofts and cupboards.
Do you have a background in fashion or fashion history?
H: I’ve been buying and selling clothes my whole life , and have always been learning as I go. I guess that gives me a fashion background and qualification with a level of expertise.
Who are your favourite designers?
H: My favourite designers change all the time. When Chanel and Dior started they were pretty ground breaking, and definitely deserve the thumbs up. There have been so many creative geniuses who have all made their mark in fashion history. Azzedine Alaia is to be admired, not only for his amazing artistry but for his two fingers up to the whole multinational conglomerate thing. It was like buying his soul back from the devil when he bought his house and brand name back from the Prada group.
Who are your best-sellers?
H: Yohji, Raf Simons and Comme pieces tend to fly out.
A: We have some really die-hard Rick customers as well.
I find vintage extremely relevant at the moment, especially as we seem to be in a period where newness feels completely extinct. The only thing left to do at the moment is to re-approach the old. How do you feel about this?
H: It does feel like everything at the moment has already been done before. For many Design Houses, fashion has become so solely just about the profit, perfume and "It" bags being main point of sale, that something has gone missing in the whole process. It seems no one can afford to take risks anymore, so Vintage seems very Post Modern in the face of it all. Vintage will always have its place with lovers of true fashion.
What is your relationship with contemporary design?
H: We are working on having some new designer lines in store. So, obviously see them sitting side by side with Vintage pieces. We are working on our own label, inspired by our best selling vintage pieces, with a twist. Watch this space.
All clothes from STRUT BROADWAY MARKET, LONDON
DASHA 1: Embroidered dress DIOR
DASHA 2: Metal dress PACO RABANNE
DASHA 3: Floral dress VINTAGE
DASHA 4: Leather skirt CHANEL ; Top ISSEY MIYAKE
DASHA 5: Red dress MAISON MARTIN MARGIELA
DASHA 6: Canvas dress ISSEY MIYAKE
Styling by Nina walbecq and Kati Garbuz
Photography by Jeff Yiu
Hair and Make Up by Andrea Gomez Anzola
Model: Dasha Love
Fashion Assistance by Aline Caretti
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