Article submitted to the Polaroid Originals Magazine by Yessica Klein. All photos courtesy of True Vintage.
If there is a place where all your ’80s and ’90s vintage dreams could come true, it is very likely that place is True Vintage. With an average of 50 new pieces added to the website every day, the online shop founded in 2013 has achieved a cult following with its perfectly curated range of sportswear brands from the likes of Adidas and Tommy Hilfiger. For vintage collectors looking for Olympic sweatshirts and fans of tracksuits alike, this is the one to watch. We caught up with their team’s Creative Director Guy Westbrook to investigate more about the ever-increasing allure of vintage and how social media keeps connecting people’s shared interest in nostalgic trends from around the globe.
Could you tell me how True Vintage came about?
True Vintage was founded by Rory Westbrook in 2013 whilst studying at Portsmouth University. In the beginning, True Vintage was a way for Rory to deal with his addiction to clothes, but soon buying and selling clothes began to take over his life. After a couple of years of running the business from his university bedroom, it was time to graduate and move the operation to London. True Vintage is now a 10-strong team made up of friends and family, operating out of a warehouse in South London.
What’s changed since the founding in 2013?
Things that have changed. Our office space is much bigger than Rory’s original uni bedroom, that’s for sure. Employed more friends, more birthdays to celebrate, a lot more clothes and enjoying work even more. The biggest change has been the opportunity to work with industry-leading companies such as Tommy Hilfiger and Urban Outfitters.
How much did the rise of social media affect True Vintage? Do you think it was intrinsic to the shop’s success?
Social media has played a massive role in helping us grow. It has enabled us to connect with so many people, not only in the UK but around the world. The liking and sharing of images on social media platforms have helped to boost our profile faster than other marketing tools. Users of social media platforms can express an opinion that can be shared around the world, not just your immediate connections. It has accelerated our growth exponentially. The combination of the Internet and social media effectively means we are open 24/7, 365 days a year, to the whole world. Social media also enables us to connect even more with our customers; we are able to understand what our customers really want, and if they have any questions they can just ping us a message.
Also, on that topic, I find it really interesting how vintage and nostalgia are so present online – even though the Internet itself is quite at the opposite end of that spectrum. How do you think these subjects are connected?
Vintage has always been popular, and like most things the internet has just made it so much more accessible to everyone. People can now browse from the comfort of their own sofa, instead of digging around vintage shops to find that special unique piece. The internet has helped to bring old technology back to life, for example, Polaroid, 35mm film, and filming with VHS have all had a big revival especially in the fashion industry. It has helped to put a modern twist on what’s considered dated technology. People now spend so much of their life online scrolling, and the internet has allowed people to see/enjoy things that they wouldn’t otherwise have been able to. It has created a market for everything, and if you dig out a relic from your younger days and post it online more often than not someone will be interested in it.
What do you think is the most appealing thing about vintage clothing?
We feel that vintage clothing offers a greater opportunity for people to create their own unique look and style. High-street clothing can be cluttered with the same styles and designs, vintage fashion can offer you something that helps you to stand out from the crowd. Some of the garments we sell are really rare, and people get a buzz finding and owning something with a story and a bit of history behind it. We love owning unique items. We also believe that vintage clothing offers a higher quality of manufacturing, some high-street clothing just doesn’t have the same lifespan and feel that vintage clothing has.
What are the coolest pieces you ever came across at True Vintage?
Where do we start… We have a lot of love for Adidas & Tommy Hilfiger being our best-selling brands. Tommy wise we have a few show-stopping jackets stored in our Archive section. These include a fully reflective coat, Camo reversible jackets and of course a few Tommy Hilfiger Sailing Gear pieces. All are extremely well made and eye-catching. Adidas wise, we love it all, but our favorites have to be the Olympic sweatshirts. They are always colorful and covered with detailed embroidery. Another Adidas masterpiece was the lycra bobsleigh suit, which had to be kept in our archive. Other pieces that deserve a mention are the Polo Sport spell out jackets, and last but not least the vibrant Coogi sweaters
What are the pieces you always love to find?
We love to find anything that is unique, different and exciting, like the Adidas all in one tracksuit we have stored in our Archive. Anything reflective is always great to see. Fleeces! This is an essential winter uniform for the staff, and we have a great collection between us. Other than that, anything that has big embroidery, sleeve tape or stand-out patterns. Brands wise, Stone Island, Coogi, Adidas, Fila Magic Line and of course Tommy Hilfiger.
How did True Collective came about?
True Collective was started earlier this year. Everyone at True Vintage loves fashion, so starting our own range of clothes was a logical move for us. So far we have released designs that have been heavily influenced by retro clothes that have come through our store. This year we are looking to develop more of our own designs, plus move into creating a wider range of clothing including women’s wear.
You guys already have the Concrete Music collaboration with TV. What other projects do you have coming up?
We have some really exciting collaborations coming up in 2018. We are putting on a pop-up shop with Urban Outfitters at their Oxford Street store, and we are also in talks with LWE about some secret music events for the summer. We are working on the idea of taking True Vintage on the road and visiting some European cities, plus a few more ideas in the pipeline but right now our mouths must remain sealed.