Interview with Wasteland Vintage
Wasteland Vintage is made up of the dynamic duo, Alex and Sophie, whose handpicked vintage items are all about quality and ‘going green’. With various projects on the go, such as creating music and art, the London-based company answered a few questions on their process, business model and work ethic.
SH: First of all, what’s your process? How do you source and pick which vintage items you go on to sell?
S: We hand pick all our stock from different sources like charity shops and car boot sales. The process is a lot longer than buying wholesale vintage but we think it’s so worth it.
A: When we're out looking for stock we just have a look at anything which catches our eye and then we inspect it to see whether it's in good condition to sell, and whether it's vintage or not.
SH: Vintage clothing has always been trendy among young people. How do trends effect how you pick out items? Which decades are your main source of influence?
A: Really we're not trying to keep up with trends as we think they don't really promote a sustainable view of fashion - clothes only stay desirable for a short amount of time before the next trend. We try and focus on items that are quality or interesting and maybe promote a more individual sense of style.
S: The ‘80s and ‘90s are definitely a big fashion inspiration for us. I love how ‘out there’ some of the designs were. I'm a sucker for a ridiculous patterned ‘80s shirt!
SH: How did your business concept become reality?
A: I'd been working various jobs since I left school at 16 and in that time I'd just grown really tired of it. I had no time to work on my hobbies and also the feeling of being made to compromise my own personal ethics (like working in a kitchen and seeing over half the food we order just thrown in the bin.) My sister who runs another online shop called Dark Paradise Vintage (go check her out!) eventually recommended that I try doing the same thing she did and it just grew from there.
S: When me and Alex became a couple he had already been doing Wasteland for a bit. I had always wanted to work in fashion since I was a kid but I couldn't see myself working for one of the big companies. I had a growing interest in sustainability and recycled fashion, so, inspired by how Alex had done it, I started up my own online vintage store. As we were already living together and helping each other out with our brands we eventually decided it made way more sense to run it as one brand. This really helped strengthen an identity for the brand that we could build together.
SH: What would you advise other brands breaking into the business?
A: The main advice I'd give to someone thinking of starting their own business is just to be honest with yourself in regard to what you're doing well but also what you aren't. If you make too many excuses for yourself you don't leave room for improvement. We ourselves are still learning and growing with how we run our business.
SH: Your clothes are all about recycling and ‘going green’. Do you think recycling clothes is part of a wider sustainability drive across the fashion world?
S: We definitely think that environmental awareness is a growing thing, and that extends into the fashion industry. It's really cool to see a growing interest in vintage, people are looking for something special that will last, compared to buying something that's disposable. The more companies that try to work in a conscious way, the more awareness grows for the sustainable fashion movement. It's all baby steps that add up to something bigger, there's still a long way to go but it's inspiring seeing the change.
SH: What is the main appeal of vintage clothing? How does it compare with ‘fast fashion’ brands?
A: To us, the main things that stand out with vintage stuff is you can get some really unique and interesting things which are high quality and that you can get them for cheaper than buying something similar from the high street. Then you have the added benefit that you're getting that at no further cost to the environment.
S: It's like having your own little piece of fashion history too, which is pretty neat.
SH: Is it difficult to compete with larger vintage resellers? Like Beyond Retro. How do you gain traction for your brand? Do you think shopping habits are changing?
S: I think it's really inspiring to see vintage brands that have made it big, so it doesn't really feel like a competition. But obviously we do have to promote our own brand to keep growing. I think the fact that we hand pick all our clothing helps us stand out. We try and make an impact with our promotion, styling and photography, whilst still staying real and relaxed about who we are behind the scenes. The internet is definitely changing how people shop. The great thing about online marketplaces is that they let people discover all these independent sellers they might not have found otherwise. It helps small businesses like ours a lot and it's something we are very grateful for!
SH: You’ve recently combined your men’s and women’s section. Do you think gendered clothing is a thing of the past?
A: We just think that people should choose for themselves what they'd like to wear without influence of labels or preconceived ideas about what is masculine and feminine.
SH: What’s your favourite vintage brand/find?
S: We tend to not focus too much on brands but over the years we have found great things from a range of different brands, some well known and some independent boutiques and bespoke stuff so it's hard to pick a favourite! One of my recent favourite finds was this amazing floor length black velvet jacket.
SH: What’s in store for the future of Wasteland Vintage? What is your ultimate goal for the brand?
S: We have a lot of change going on in our lives at the moment. We are moving to Cornwall where we will have a lot more space than we currently do to run our business. We have lots of ideas for new directions Wasteland can take. We are planning to design some t-shirts, make some accessories from interesting vintage items and dedicate more time to customising vintage clothing, which until recently hasn't been a main focus. We’re also looking into making handmade garments using recycled or up-cycled fabric!
A: We've now launched our own website for Wasteland which you can find at: retroreflector.co.uk. Retroreflector is our creative collective we recently started to have all our interests and passions in one place. We're soon going to have prints of our artwork for sale and downloads of our music projects. The website is still in its early stages and we are still working on getting all our stock uploaded but buying directly from us is the best way to support us as a small business. For us it made sense to group Wasteland in with this as Wasteland is also a creative output for us. We're really excited about this new direction as it opens up a lot of new opportunities!