Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Second-hand Fashions: Uncovered

I recently read an article in my local newspaper - The Saanich News, shedding light on the fact that our small town or even 'sleepy' city of victoria, has a limited sense of style or fashion. The article described the fashion sense in Victoria to be practical over stylish and expressed that our residents will choose Birkenstocks over Louboutins as it's the more sensible choice. Granted, our city isn't the fashion capitol of the world, and yes, maybe we don't have a lot of stores at our fingertips that the likes of Karl Lagerfeld and A- List celebrities would shop at - but I like to think that the fashion sense in Victoria isn't out- of - the- loop, but in it's own loop. A fair few of us would also argue the fact that we WOULD be choosing Louboutins over Birkenstocks if we had that kind of MONEY!
Alas, so we don't have the same range of stores as say Vancouver or Toronto, but we DO have certain stores under our belt that not many know of, and are missing out on. Designer brands shouldn't define a person's fashion sense in whole, yet it makes our town out to be behind in the fashion world because we don't have it available to us.

Victoria is definitely not a city to be known for chain stores, and big name brands such as French Connection or Armani or even Forever 21, but we are moving in that direction as our newer stores include Sephora and an up and coming BCBG. That isn't what makes Victoria such a cool place to shop though; it's the individual and very trendy boutiques that we possess in our downtown core.

Some of my favourite places to shop include Flavour, Decade, Paradise Boutique, Scala, Breeze, Plum, North of Wednesday and of COURSE the patch. As some of these boutiques can take a heavy hit to my wallet sometimes, I definitely enjoy going for a good bargain hunting at the second hand stores I know and love. My all time favourite place to shop is The Patch because not only is it a really cool store, the stock you can find in that store can be really good finds. It is also a good place to find treasured vintage dresses, as well as loudly patterned skirts and blouses that I enjoy purchasing, and then further taking apart and remaking into something I would actually wear (ie: remaking an amish dress into a really cute top)

Until recently, I thought that The Patch, along with Value Village were really the only two good places I would be able to find cheap and worthwhile deals...until I read the second article in a series the Saanich News has been exhibiting. Second-hand boutiques that have been hidden from mainstream shoppers were revealed in this article, beginning a list of 'new' stores that I have to visit.
Out Of The Closet renew Boutique was at the top of the list - said to be a great place for eclectic and individualistic styles, this boutique is also enterprise non-profit boutique, targeting issues of homelessness, mental health, human poverty and social justice which are heavy burdens on our homosexual and transgender community. An example of great finds in this new boutique include a retired Town & Country Lanes, faded yellow polo shirt with name Vera emblazoned on the chest. Most, if not all items found in this shop are retired from previous users, although the stock within the store seems to cycle through at a fairly quick pace.
Another great place listed in the article was located in the midst of Fan Tan Alley – one of my favourite locations in Victoria. This store is another great place to find gently used items dating from as late as the 1940’s. Many a beautiful wool dresses, pearls and perfect quality accessories can be found here – completing your tried and true vintage wardrobe assets.

If your looking for a store that has a purpose – aside from selling you cute, used clothes for cheap prices, then take a look in the Women In Need shop (WIN). Located on Cook Street, this little shop is a used clothing store that also supports essential women needs and have been for the past 18 years. The store, much like the patch in size and stock, divides itself into separate sections according to brand names. They also provide a craft supply corner that showcases patterns from all eras for a cheap price.

Moving down to Johnson Street, you will come across a small and nondescript store, tucked away behind the designer shops in the downstairs section of Marketsquare. Although this store can be slightly intimidating to those that are not used to the vintage feel for clothes hunting, this store can be a great experience for those looking for something original. The store, Sam’s Sideshow Boutique can be just that; a show. Take a couple of your friends, and venture into the depths of the store and peruse through the union jack vests, zebra print pants and vintage heels and you might just find something you wouldn’t expect yourself to fall in love with.

The Saanich News is featuring these articles throughout four different papers, so looking forward to reading the next couple editions of one take on Victorian fashion life, I’ll be sure to keep posting my thoughts and views on the certain aspects of each article. As keeping up to date with local fashion apparel industries and boutiques, such as the ones so close to home, is part of my portfolio requirements to be accepted into the fashion program at Kwantlen University; I’ll be keeping up a running commentary on life in fashion for a Victoria resident such as myself. Keep your eyes open for my next blurbs…or if you don’t like it – don’t!

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