1- Tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Ryan, I’m a 31 year old snarky magpie and female, but with a guy’s name. My parents were borderline hippies so it could have been worse…Which is why many people don’t know my middle name- and never will.
I live in a 1961 Ranch- style house that suffered from a 1980’s remodel. Slowly but surely being addressed using an eclectic mix of antiques and retro pieces, with the input of two doggies and one cat, all of whom are rescued super- mutts.
My love of design can be traced back to playing in my Grandma Lee’s insane closet. Layering on brilliant designer accessories and being allowed to jump off of her lighted platform bed, into her arms. I still hope to someday score a duplicate pair of Yves Saint Laurent black suede thigh high boots with gold lame’ leather appliquéd chains that she used to have.
I’ve been buying/ collecting vintage since junior high school, often altering damaged (and otherwise unusable) pieces and creating new ones when time permitted. Now the idea of cutting up a piece of vintage seems unfathomable!
In high school, I worked at a second-hand clothing shop just as vintage was becoming really mainstream- catering to the 15- 25 crowd. Lots of vintage Levi’s, cowboy boots, 1970s poly shirts, 1960’s baby doll looks, etc. When I realized I hated my career in retail management at the tender age of 21, I started selling pre- owned clothing and haven’t looked back. In fact, today is my 2nd Etsyversary as retrotrend!
Design integrity is extremely important to me, both in terms of authenticity and proper categorization.
2- What do you sell?
I offer “Iconic and ironic vintage for a modern lifestyle.” This normally translates to 1940’s- 1980’s items. Clothing and accessories for men and women, as well as housewares and the rare piece of MCM furniture I don’t end up keeping.
3- Favorite decade/s for vintage?
1960’s- and not just because of Mad Men! I love the loss of innocence, the streamlining of shapes, the subtly between chic, artsy and modern- all seen through the evolution of fashion. Like how a simple black sheath would look radically different in a POP pattern. Designs by Gernreich, Balenciaga and Pucci still look cutting edge today.
I have a weakness for wartime 1940’s streamlined blazers and 1980’s power dressing a la Thierry Mugler.
In the classic rivalry between Chanel and Schiaparelli, I’d have remained a neutral observer.
4- Favorite vintage item you own?
My personal style has calmed down a lot over the years- less “look at my funny vintage outfit” and more beautifully constructed items with a timeless style. In terms of ownership- I now try to limit my personal stash to one really great example of an item. My 501 Big- E jeans with a beautiful fade, late 1960’s Hermes “Kelly” bag in black box calf, early 1960’s navy suede Gucci tote with red and blue wool vertical striping, a highly limited edition and extra huge Omega “Memomatic” steel men’s watch circa 1975, a 1950’s black satin cocktail dress with hand painted floral design and prong set rhinestone detailing, a zig- zag neckline and full skirt.
Or regret having sold in the past?
Loads of vibrantly patterned Pucci items, a black alpaca Lilli Ann swing coat with Persian lamb trim, a pair of late 1940’s black patent (actual leather) platform heels with straight vamp, a white rayon women’s bowling shirt with sky blue embroidery, circa 1950.
5-Favorite item you are currently selling? And why?
http://www.etsy.com/listing/47978872/1950s-black-pin-up-swim-suit-s-m It is amazing! I see it on a famous burlesque dancer and not at the beach.
A favorite recently sold item is this bag- to the Mad Men prop department. http://www.etsy.com/listing/49071640/1960s-black-vinyl-carry-on-luggage-bag
6- Best advice for newbies?
Know your product. Be sure it is actually vintage (technically at least 20 years old). There are lots of reissued designs and retro looks from so many companies. Just because something looks vintage, doesn’t mean it is. This is a huge peeve of mine- but an Old Navy tee with a retro look graphic is not vintage. Rant now ending.
Figure out when an item is from- stitching and construction as well as labels will give you the best clues. When in doubt, research online for similar items, from reputable dealers.
Make sure you really inspect items for condition and bizarre alterations. If you still deem the piece as sellable, clearly note any issues.
Don’t be afraid to promote yourself and always stand behind your products.
7- Favorite web sites? Or blogs? http://www.weezi.com/ for fun yet functional, vintage inspired and reworked pieces. I will one day make it to ON for Beehive Tuesday! http://www.dooce.com/ for the Daily Chuck and the style picks- lots of Etsy shout outs! http://www.design-crisis.com/ uses a lot of vintage/ reclaimed pieces in unusual ways. http://www.myvintagevogue.com/ for inspiration and sheer beauty- Jessica does an amazing job archiving all those photos.
http://www.amateurian.blogspot.com/ is a funny blog written by my friend Angi, the creative multi-tasker behind http://www.etsy.com/shop/Romantica
http://www.fluevog.com/ for fabulous yet shockingly comfortable shoes, and http://www.enokiworld.com/ for amazing vintage pieces.
8- Favorite movies?
Lucky Number Slevin, Secretary, Auntie Mame (the Rosalind Russell version), Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Election, Rushmore, Blue (Kieslowski’s movie, not the Derek Jarman movie of the same title), Party Girl, Heavenly Creatures
Mad Men, Caprica, Glee, Torchwood, Arrested Development, Beautiful People, Iron Chef America (though Alton Brown really needs to be fired)
9- Favorite music?
Stereolab, Fugazi, Sleater- Kinney, Luna, Velocity Girl, Tuscadero, Blonde Redhead, Bat for Lashes, Promise Ring/ anything Ted Leo, Girls vs. Boys/ New Wet Kojak, The Wedding Present, June of 44, Yo La Tengo, Seam, The Rachels, The Kills, Lush, Echobelly, Juno, Blur, Pulp, Elastica, any Brit pop (except Oasis!), 1980’s New Wave/ electronica/ pop (INXS, Depeche Mode, Culture Club, etc.), 1970’s David Bowie.
One of my all-time favorite songs is “Perfect Day” by Lou Reed, which was recently used in an AT&T Olympics commercial- I cringe every single time it airs.
10- Favorite books? Authors?
The Conformist by Alberto Moravia- actually, I love most of his books. I’ve got a soft spot for sci-fi, brutal true crime and scientific history.
11- Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Hopefully doing the same thing- promoting a love of vintage to the masses! Ideally I’d have a stellar stand- alone site like enokiworld.com. I love the idea of expanding but don’t want a physical store- I spent too much time working in and being miserable at retail management. I’ve always loved photography, merchandising and interior design, which can often be tied in to what I’m currently doing.
12- What else should we know about you/ your business?
I’ve been selling on eBay since 2001 and do offer personal shopping and styling services using second-hand items. I come across so many beautiful things, not always vintage.
I must address my avatar- yes, it is an inflatable moose head. It was a Hannukah present many years ago and is quite large. Mr. McMoosey hangs out on the wall of my office. Sometimes he is thematically dressed for the holidays. He likes 1950’s neckties a lot. And 1980’s designer clip- on earrings- usually not at the same time.
13- List your links.
Iconic and ironic vintage clothing for a modern lifestyle.
Be different. Buy vintage. Make a difference.