While Dana might be the brain behind Gigi Vintage, her daughter Charley is an integral part of the family business and her take on vintage gives this store a unique take on fashion. Dana is more knowledgeable about 70s-80's vintage, where Charley considers vintage to be late 90's-Y2k era. This is reflected in the collection at their well curated stall, which expands on the diversity and attracts customers of all ages!
What is your fashion background?
Having always loved clothing and style, I decided to study Fashion Design at Tech school, which led me to design and make clothes under my own label for many years.
After a few years of selling my creations at the local markets, I decided to move into the realm of recycling clothes, which included making alterations to pre-loved pieces to custom fit my clients. My thinking was that there are already so many wonderful clothes out in the world, why not salvage them, improve them, and give them a second go?
This new scope felt in line with my morals around sustainability, and getting on board with the slow fashion movement.
Have you always loved vintage clothes?
To be completely honest, no. I have been just as much a consumer of the fast fashion industry as the next person and saw clothing through the lense of consumption and disposal. It has only been in the last few years that I have really come to love vintage clothing and appreciate the uniqueness and classic design that is a timeless attribute to the modern wardrobe.
Most vintage pieces are made with more quality and care than modern 'fast' fashion pieces, so you get a much longer life span with them. The way the vintage fabrics age is a beautiful process in itself. Fabrics such as denim, leather, and cotton can become softer and lovelier over time, and are highly desirable items amongst my core customers.
Do you have any styling tips with pairing vintage finds with modern pieces?
Yes! In fact, as a stylist this is one of my favourite dressing techniques. My advice is to find one or two vintage, or preloved, pieces that you love (per outfit) and pair them with ethically sourced basics (there are many Australian sustainable fashion brands that use fabrics derived from natural fibers such as bamboo, linen, organic cotton, etc.) to create a whole look.
The main objective in my opinion, is to collect high-quality items for your wardrobe that will last many seasons. In doing so, this minimises the consumption/disposal culture of fast fashion that is so destructive to our planet. It might seem more expensive at the time to purchase locally made or vintage pieces, but over time you are actually saving money (and the planet!) because they will last much longer, meaning you won't have to 'top up' as much.
What are your favourite vintage fashion brands?
I love the classics such as Levi's, Lee, and Calvin Klein, which are all still pretty attainable from my sources around Melbourne. I also enjoy finding more rare pieces from labels that are now discontinued such as Gitano, Gloria Vanderbilt, Bongo, and Benetton. And very, very rarely I will find real gems such as Chloe and Vivienne Westwood. I never know what I will find, which is why I stay so passionate about vintage fashion. Passing these finds on to my vintage-enthusiastic customers brings me a ton of joy.
What drew you to set up shop at South Melbourne Market?
Visiting South Melbourne Market before I was a trader showed me the diverse crowd of people that shop, trade and congregate here as a big part of their weekly life. The Market has so much to offer both tourists and locals, and wholeheartedly supports small businesses and local enterprise. This sits well with me and makes me feel part of a bigger vision of sustainability and connectedness. I have been welcomed in with such warmth and kindness and feel very lucky to be part of the community here. Thank you SMM!