This upcoming weekend – February 4-5, 2017 – #AFinBK will be hosting the debut of a newly acquired vintage collection from Zingara Vintage. Part of the Artists & Fleas family for years, Erin, founder and curator of the Rockaway establishment, spends a breathtakingly enormous amount of time rehabilitating and breathing fresh, new life into the garments she acquires, bringing out the stories in clothing and then sharing them with their new owners. Below, Erin grants us an inside look at how she sees the beauty, potential, and stories hidden within her vintage collections.
I've been a vintage dealer for the better part of a decade and have owned a brick and mortar shop in Rockaway Beach for about two years now. I'm constantly hunting for vintage treasures, often rescuing pieces forgotten in the backs of garages, attics and closets, at quirky roadside shops while on road trip adventures in my camper van, and everywhere in between.
I'm particularly drawn to pieces that might be dismissed because of their condition. I enjoy the restoration process and have a deep commitment to resurrecting garments that are often seen as beyond repair. In the spirit of the Japanese philosophies of Kin-tsugi and Wabi-Sabi, I work diligently to make use of odd pieces that might otherwise be discarded because of the time and work required to reintroduce a piece back into the cycle of usefulness. I see a certain beauty in imperfection and revived functionality.
The vintage community has been rapidly growing in tandem with the maker scene along with the awareness of how important it is to recycle and upcycle what is already available, the appreciation of well-made clothing that has stood the test of time and the desire to keep our hard earned money out of corporate big box stores and in the pockets of the artisans that are the fabric of our culture.
A few weeks ago, I received a phone call. The kind that treasure hunters like myself dream about and I'm so very excited to share what I've been working so very hard on. This collection belonged to an art teacher that lived a charmed life by the sea and contains a lifetime of good taste, sophistication, eccentricity and casual elegance. Although this collection is unique and beautiful, each piece required extensive preparation, hand washing and restoration.
For me, hand washing garments becomes a meditation. I visualize the fibers loosening, letting go of the dust time has deposited. This is when I carefully inspect these delicate treasures and get to know it's "geography" - where repairs need to be made, holes need to be stitched. I think about the first perfect spring day in 1965 that an Indian cotton gauze dress was worn for a stroll down the boardwalk, then to a picnic on the beach. The fabulous party in 1987 where a silk dress made its debut and the attention and compliments it garnered. The undoubtedly known reputation this woman had for literally having a different outfit for every occasion and school day and the perfect accessories to match.
As I rinse and carefully hang each piece to dry, I again visualize the fibers, now cleaned and bright, shrinking back down, original forms retaking their place. I wonder what it's next adventure will be and how it will make the next person feel. I commune with these things. Then the process moves into stitching seams, replacing buttons, embroidering atop stubborn discolorations. This takes a lot of time, and I love every moment of it.
What is particularly special about this collection is its consistency in style and color story, commitment to specific designers and collections of countless multiples. This interesting woman knew how to dress and with much care, was able to articulate, through her wardrobe, the many facets of her personality and truly embrace the fashion scenes throughout decades.
I'm thrilled to debut this collection with the Artists & Fleas family, as it so thoughtfully represents so very many artists, makers and vintage dealers and embraces the importance of shopping small, shopping local, and shopping mindfully.