As we reported back in April, if you love vintage shopping, loads and loads of clothes, and Bravo TV, you’re in for some sort of a treat with Dukes of Melrose. The new show follows Decades boutique owners, Christos Garkinos and Cameron Silver, as they take viewers inside the crazy world of vintage couture in Hollywood, California. I got to sit down with the duo and talked vintage shopping strategies and what’s really worth the splurge.
Cameron Silver, Christos Garkinos
On where to really spend your money…
Cameron: Save your money on basics. Go to H&M or Zara for basics, and put your money into vintage conversation pieces. That’s what I would do. I mean, I don’t buy anything basic. With authentic vintage I think it’s about finding the pieces that aren’t basic or boring. The eccentric pieces that would be so prohibitive to buy in modern fashion. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be an important designer vintage piece, it should be that splash of character. Something that isn’t in your closet, that’s going to freshen everything up. Certainly with accessories like bold costume jewelry, I mean you can go to a flea market and buy a bold crazy necklace for like $10. You know, find that out-of-the-box, out-of-your-comfort-zone piece.
Christos: I believe in the Chanel experience. I mean, I tell girls all the time, just don’t have two coffees a day. That’s $8. And $8 times 365 is over $2,400, which is enough to get you a vintage Chanel bag by the end of the year. So basically just don’t drink coffee. Haha.
On having a game plan when it comes to vintage shopping…
Cameron: I think it’s better to have no plan and just get seduced. Have a real open mind. Because with vintage you never know what you’re going to find. It’s not like you’re going to Bloomingdale’s or Macy’s and there will be 1,000 colors. Just have an open mind. Also, condition is paramount. Don’t buy only based on labels. It could have some fantastic French couturier’s label and it could very well be butt ugly. Don’t be afraid of alterations and tailoring. I always say your tailor is more important than your shrink. If something doesn’t fit perfectly, realize you can do a bit of alteration and factor that in when you’re negotiating. You may be able to get a friendlier price.
Christos: I always tell girls to get friendly with the staff at a store you love because they’ll show you stuff that’s in the back and hasn’t hit the floor yet. From a consignment standpoint, not so much vintage, but something to know is that every consignor in the network is given a number. If you’re finding someone’s clothes or style you want to have, ask the store if it’s a person who sells to them a lot so then they’ll call you when that person drops off things. For instance, there’s someone named 679 at Decades. She’s a lawyer from Virginia and she sends us about 300 pairs of shoes a year, unworn, because she buys two of the same pair with the fear that she’ll ruin one or lose one. She never does and she never wears them, so every six months we get a shipment of 679’s shoes. We have a list of girls we know are 679’s size and it’s like the Pied Piper of shoes.
On shopping runway trends at vintage prices…
Christos: You know that big black-and-white stripes trend that’s so popular for spring 2013? Well, when it showed in fall, that would’ve been the time to shop vintage because you can find things in black and white and be the first girl on the block with the trend. That way you don’t have to wait the four or six months until it hits stores—you can find those things easily, especially when it’s a trend like that or a color trend like emerald green.