Vintage shopping. To some a wonderful world full of treasures, for others an impossible adventure. We understand it can be overwhelming, or difficult to find the right size when vintage sizes are not the same. Not the mention the influence of misconceptions like it’s dull, boring or dirty items. We talked with Esmeralda, store manager of the successful vintage shop ‘Episode’ in Rotterdam, to prove all that wrong! In this vintage shopping guide Esmeralda shows you her love ánd gives you tips to improve your vintage game.
For the last decade I’ve been collecting clothes. First I was totally into H&M and all the big fast fashion stores. However, after learning more about the production process and the way employees get treated in the factories I didn’t want to contribute to that anymore. When I was living in Breda I thrifted a lot with my mom. She taught me the tricks of the trade about thrifting, loving clothes, fabrics, the stories behind an item, to love clothes and always dress up for yourself with love for your own fashion style. We often went to different cities to shop and we always passes by vintage-of secondhand stores by coincidence.
After studying textile conservation and restoration I even learned more about the production of textile itself, manufacturing the fabric from material to thread and weaving it into a piece of fabric you can cut a pattern from. My look on fashion was always to wear what you like, whether that’s in fashion or not. And after learning more about the fashion industry and historical textile production I was even more convinced to wear ‘me’ on my body and the best option to do that is vintage and secondhand, because you’ll wear a piece that you picked and not what the big fashion stores picked for you to wear. Vintage is special because almost every item is unique and combining it with other cool pieces makes your look always special. The cliche about vintage is that every piece tells a story about the life it had before, and you are giving the piece a new life. According to me, that is so true.
Think Twice (or T2) is the vintage shop where my first experience with selling vintage began. I was fascinated by where the clothes came from and was always excited to unpack more bags of clothes. The funny thing is that the delivery came in one big plastic bags instead of individual wrapping each item. So when my colleagues and I opened the bag we were always excited about the treasures we would find. Nowadays I work as Manager of the big vintage store Episode in Rotterdam. A store where you can enjoy the whole day looking for a good piece that suits your taste. The vibe here is so nice and we have a wide range of people coming in. We accept everybody for the way the are and that’s such a perfect way to look at the gorgeous variety of people.
My most loved item is a Dries van Noten skirt. I found it on a market in Antwerp when I ran under the tent of an old ladies stand to take shelter from the rain. While I was waiting for the rain to stop, I looked through her items when I saw this nice thick woven dark green fabric. I took it out of the rack and checked the size, a bit to big but it was a wrap skirt. I checked the label which said it was a Dries van Noten. No surprise the fabric was so gorgeous! I bought it for €8 and bring it with me anywhere. On my holiday to Sicily I wore it with my heeled sandals and a simple top, and in winter with my red DR. Martens.
I understand shopping vintage can feel like looking for a pin in a haystack. If you want to find surprising pieces, just look in every shop. I also went into crappy looking thrift shops in the Netherlands and found amazing jewelry and clothes. Nonetheless, my favorite vintage stores are Think Twice (only in Belgium), Episode, thrift stores from Terre des Hommes (profit is all donated to a good cause).
People always think vintage should look a certain way but you make it look good with your own look and creativity. Don’t judge before you enter the shop, that is my advice. When I enter a shop I always look everywhere, also in hiding spots and the men’s section. It does help to know what kind of items or colors you like and what suits your body type. For example I love skirts and dresses so those items I always check, the same goes for good quality fabrics.
Secondly, always try on an item if it looks nice, despite its size. A piece can look nice on the hanger but if it won’t fit your body type, it doesn’t work. Or if you doubt the print, it can turn out fabulous on you. Also, size doesn’t matter. Sizes vary a lot in vintage fashion, through time and different countries. My Dries van Noten skirt may be two sizes bigger then what I normally wear, but I tried it on and it worked.
I don’t really believe in trends and I normally don’t follow them. However I’ve noticed that a lot of sports items sell well in Episode. We have a wide range of clothes, but we now have a lot of sportswear in our collection. Also classic items like All Stars are popular. My colleagues also wear and buy what they like in the shop and don’t follow any trends. Our personality creates our style. That is how we should wear it and that is what I love about vintage.
Planning a visit to Paris soon? Read our vintage shopping guide for the fashion capital!