We headed down to Shoreditch to talk with Allen Reji about shop.allenreji, talking all things vintage fashion and what it means to be a new store in the heart of East London.
The Basement: Tell us a bit about yourself, who are you and what do you do?
Allen Reji: I’m Allen, a curated vintage dealer, specialising in mainly menswear. I’ve been selling online under my name shop.allenreji for the past 6 or 7 years, and I have just opened a physical studio store in Shoreditch. I try to run the shop like you’re buying from a person who lives and breathes what they are selling, rather than just buying from a company. My style of offering has stayed fairly consistent throughout my years, and heavily mirrors my personal wardrobe. Whilst mainly sourcing brands such as Comme des Garçons, Issey Miyake and Stüssy, I also love finding unusual pieces from brands that I hope will turn heads a little.
TB: Tell us a bit about the studio store – when did it open and what’s the vision behind it?
AR: For years I stuck to selling exclusively online, but after completing my undergraduate in architecture two years ago, I wanted to host some physical pop ups. Me and some of my close friends – who sell an array of different styles of vintage menswear – started a collaborative pop up venture called The Past Times. We have hosted 5 pop ups so far in and around London, which made me fall in love with selling in-person. I just love meeting like-minded people who also appreciate the clothes that i’m into. Even after 5 pop ups, I still hadn’t had enough of it, so I decided to open a more permanent space in Shoreditch last week. I also feel like there isn’t enough vintage stores in London that primarily focus on curated menswear – side note, I do stock a little bit of womenswear too. I shop almost exclusively second hand for clothes, unless the money is going directly to friends who have started their own brands.
TB: What sets shop.allenreji apart from other similar stores?
AR: The unique thing is that I only sell pieces that I can 100% stand behind.
TB: What do you look for when sourcing pieces to sell? Any particular brands, designers or eras?
AR: With the brands that I mentioned earlier, I have so many personal rules in terms of what eras, what labels, what designers etc. I try and exclusively stock for the store and of course within my personal wardrobe, however there are always exceptions. For example, under the CdG umbrella, the line that resonates with me the most is CdG Homme, but there are pieces from CdG Homme Plus aswell as CdG Shirt that I also admire. There’s also some CdG labels that I would never purchase for me or for the store. I love finding pieces from brands that you wouldn’t expect from me. For example, I might have a Moschino piece that might easily get mistaken for some Issey Miyake.
TB: It’s no doubt vintage has become ‘trendy’ in recent years, where do you see the trend heading? What’s next for both vintage buyers and sellers?
AR: I love that there’s so many (online) vintage sellers that offer a unique niche. I hope this carries on and they continue attracting buyers who can discover their own personal niches, so that vintage can have less associations with stereotypical “vintage stores” that have a rail of generic denim, a rail of moto style jackets and a rail of collegiate sweats.
TB: Craziest piece you’ve ever sold?
AR: I have too many favourites and I will probably regret what I am about to pick, since it will definitely be affected by recency bias. Maybe it might be the CdG Homme wool pants that sold at my last pop up. They weighed an absolute stupid amount, literally a jacket for your legs. I just love that when it arrived I was expecting some regular wool pants but of course CdG got freaky with it in a very subtle way which I loved.
TB: What’s next for you and your store?
AR: I’m currently in my retail worker era with my studio store, and I hope that this helps me to meet even more people who are into all the clothes that I’m into, and I hope it stays this fun for a good while. I aim to keep up the online store as well, as I wouldn’t have been able to open this physical space without the years of online support I’ve received from good people all across the world. I’m also looking to get back into designing but we will have to see how that will work out.