Searching for the perfect vintage item can be tough. Even if you love the thrill of the hunt, there’s no guarantee that you’ll find a funky vintage bag or the perfect pair of pumps. Janice Liu fixed this vintage fashion dilemma by starting Shoppalu, an online vintage-focused store.
Whether you’re short on time or low on patience, Shoppalu takes the guesswork out of vintage shopping. I had the opportunity to chat with the founder of the Canadian website to talk about updating vintage style, eco fashion, and the joy of garage sales.
1. What is Shoppalu?
I founded Shoppalu with a good friend back in Spring 2011. We were both working in aspects of the industry and were looking for a creative channel to be able to take what we loved about the fashion industry, yet be able to leave behind what we didn’t like as much. E-commerce is growing globally, but we had no idea that Shoppalu would have such an impact. When we launched, we became Canada’s first online vintage-focused store, selling 80% finely curated vintage pieces and 20% new brands that are fairly elusive to Canadian shoppers. We find that some vintage pieces are often times too dated for every day wear. We take great care to perform small alterations, like taking out shoulder pads,taking the hem up or removing the sleeves. It’s never completely recycled and we try to leave it as close to its original state as possible.
2. Where do the pieces on Shoppalu come from?
The vintage pieces are all handpicked by our team from various sources. These include anything from garage sales to obscure second-hand stores, to pure Value Village and Sally Ann rummaging.
Janice’s Top Picks from Shoppalu
Left to Right: Art Deco Sleeveless Shirt Dress with Belt/Dalmatian Coast Printed Pant
Left to Right: Handsome City Hall Sweatshirt/ Graham & Spencer Nelly Drape Top
3. Why buy vintage?
Vintage may be what is super hip now, but personally, I believe it’s not only a way to express yourself outside of what’s available at the mall, it also allows you to wear something that paid the creator more than a few cents, and the level of quality in vintage pieces is pretty difficult to find today. We all go to H&M and Zara for the trendy high street pieces, but at the end of the day, the likelihood of it falling apart or being ruined after one wash is still quite high. On top of all of that, it always blows my mind to think about how many hours really went into producing that $10 shirt for myself, that I’ll wear once and lose to my closet. Despite all of this, I don’t think we should all jump ship and wear only vintage or clothes that have been sitting there for years. To me, vintage is supposed to help define your personal style, evolve your wardrobe or provide a strong foundation not based on trends or polyester. We love combining vintage with what is currently in our closets and we often showcase this on our Tumblr.
4. What is your best vintage find that you’ve discovered?
I’ve discovered a lot of great stuff from all over the place but I’ve gotta say my all-time favourite is this rustic wide oaky brown waist belt with a huge metal and crystal center-piece that I picked up for 20 euro in Amsterdam at a flea market. It looks amazing with dresses!
5. What is your favourite way to update a vintage piece?
I love getting rid of that shoulder pads. My all-time favourite way to update a vintage piece is to clean it professionally and not change any part of it. It was made to look a certain way and changing it too much always loses that touch. So many things are “vintage-inspired” today, so the last thing I would want is to change something that is 50 years old and make it look like it’s from Fall 2012.
Janice’s Top Picks from Shoppalu
Left to Right: Suzanne Sequin Dress/Tribal Taupe Blouse
Left to Right: Black and Gold Lace Up Booties/Gold Hunter Suede Quilted Purse
Left to Right: Burnt Orange Clark’s Clogrollers/Samedi Camel Flats