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Store Visit: Vintage Threads

We headed down to Covent Garden to talk with Freddie and Charlie of Vintage Threads, talking all things vintage fashion and what it means to be a store in the heart of London

Tell us a bit about yourselves, who are you and what do you do?

Freddie: Safe, I’m Freddie, an Essex boy at heart that has always been obsessed with vintage. Charlie and I first met on a night out right back in 2014 in the toon when we were at Newcastle Uni but we never expected to go on this mad journey together, it’s been crazy! At the moment, I split my time between the Covent Garden store, our Hackney studio and hitting the road sourcing new stock. I’m a bit of a nut for rare 90s sportswear but also have a real soft spot for old school Polo, 80s Stoney and random 90s nostalgia tees & tracksuits. I’m at my happiest when the doors of some random warehouse are opening!

Charlie: Originally born in Leeds, I decided to move down to London with 3 cases of clothes and 2 6ft rails in 2018 to run the business out of my bedroom. It was in 2020 that we moved into our first studio and then everything just went a bit crazy with lockdown, moving into 2 new studios for more space and then opening the shop in 2022.

Store Visit: Vintage Threads - BasementApproved
When and Why did you open Vintage Threads?

F: Although there are some pretty rogue snaps of Charlie and I in our Newcastle uni days wearing some bait outfits, we always loved a bit of vintage, hitting up the proper cheap charity shops and OG vintage spots like Deep in Newcastle. From pretty early on we knew we wanted to take on the dead fast fashion cycle which is another reason why having this store in Covent Garden is such a madness as it’s always been my dream to have a store and a presence on the high street. Growing up with a mum that was obsessed with charity shops, the thought of having all the gems seemed a bit too good to be true, now it’s real, it’s such a vibe. Coming out of lockdown and that crazy period of running the business from our bedrooms before we moved into our first studio, we really wanted to have a different aspect to the brand and to actually meet and chat to our customers and share our passion for the whole process of VT and our love of the garms. To be honest though, being in the centre of Covent Garden still feels a bit pinch yourself.

C: Vintage Threads was born in my room up in Newcastle in 2016. At the time I was going to kilo sales and fell in love with picking up these wacky and wonderful items. Must have stocked 90% track jackets at the time, which suited the Newcastle raving scene. 
Luckily I had a friend who made website’s and was born (sadly we had to lose the .eu when we decided to leave the EU). We never went down the ebay/depop route which made us really focus on building the business as a brand.

So tell us a bit about the store?

F: We really wanted the store to feel like a bit of a 90s time warp as soon as you walk in and even walk past from outside with those big windows. All of our pieces are handpicked by us or hand-stitched by our rework team, so we stock a big variety of designer & sportswear, accessories and some funky homeware bits as well, (shout out the Shagadellic Austin Powers poster that’s downstairs with the matching OG 1999 movie cap). Our aim is to get people popping in all the time, so we try and keep it fresh by restocking 30 or 40 new bits every day.

C: We opened 2 months ago and it’s been a dream so far. Meeting people who have bought from us over the past few years and reminiscing about certain garms they’ve copped makes the thing a lot more real and it’s nice to actually meet the people who have supported you and are the reason for us opening the shop up. I think vintage needs that, compared to just being sat online pushing out swipe ups or bumps. There’s a history behind the items we sell and it can’t really be communicated on a website. You need that in-person interaction.

We always wanted to set the store up to be different to the standard vintage shops you find around the UK. No double rails, plastic hangers and a smell of an old person’s wardrobe.
We want it to be minimal and a curated selection of items. We love it when people come in and eventually realise the clothes are ‘second hand’

Store Visit: Vintage Threads - BasementApproved
What sets Vintage Threads apart from other similar stores?

F: There are so many sick vintage stores about these days that sell all sorts of pieces, but I would say it’s probably just the variety of items that we stock whilst still keeping it curated. At least around the Covent Garden area, a lot of the vintage stores are more traditional and source by the kilo, so we try to stand out by keeping things curated and hopefully bringing in some pieces that people haven’t seen before. We also drop a different VT Rework collection in-store every week with pieces that we’ve made from damaged vintage items and put our own spin on, so it’s fun to sell completely one-of-one items as well. Hopefully there’s also some decent tunes popping at all times as well!

C: Curation & Variety, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We love vintage from 90s Nike Jordan to some of Massimo Osti’s early collection pieces. We stock items that we like and appeal to us when we’re out buying. Which leads us to have a really nice balance of sportswear and designer items.

The curation aspect comes from handpicking everything from the clothes on the rails to the 1960s Kellogs sign behind the till. We want to offer people an experience when they come into our shop. A trip down the 90s nostalgia route.

Store Visit: Vintage Threads - BasementApproved
What do you look for when sourcing pieces to sell? Any particular brands, designers or eras?

F: The process is always evolving right from when we first started buying and our first trip abroad in 2018 which we learnt a lot from! But I would say the key thing we’re always looking out for when out picking, aside from authenticity, is ensuring we always have a good balance of pieces as our customers tend to be quite wide reaching in terms of their tastes, so we like to source for different styles and we don’t mind picking up battered bits for our reworks as well. 

In the first few years it was pretty much all about old school 90s pieces whereas now we’re seeing a big demand for the Y2K style so some brands like Ed Hardy and Evisu that we used to pass up on all the time are now popping off, so that keeps us on our toes! One of the benefits of handpicking though will always be the opportunity to get proper rare pieces and we’re never happy heading home without some proper grails, even if we have to pay a bit more for them. There’s nothing like picking up a green edge Stoney or some crazy 90s Nike heat.

C: 90s is our sweet spot, a Nutmeg single stitch tee will definitely get us going when we’re out sourcing. Some of the brands that we’re loving at the moment are Diesel, especially the pieces from the early 90s. The distressed leather jackets are something else. 
Nike Air Jordan, the prints and tee’s can be spotted a mile off when you’re going through a bale, which always gets the heart racing. 

Finally Prada, from chic Prada Milano jackets to all out flex with the Prada luna rossa collection. It gives everything a vintage lover would want.

Store Visit: Vintage Threads - BasementApproved
It’s no doubt vintage has become ‘trendy’ in recent years, where do you see the trend heading? What’s next for vintage lovers?

F: Yeah, it’s been mad to see the rise in popularity in vintage, especially since we first started and we’ve noticed it so much moving into the store where people of all ages and backgrounds are now shopping vintage without batting an eyelid. In terms of the trends, we’re definitely seeing a lot more demand for the truly rare pieces and a drop in demand for the more standard essentials. I guess vintage became so popular because people really wanted to stand out and express their individuality, so as the movement has grown and grown, vintage lovers still wanna be unique in their style, so it’s pushing the boundaries a bit which is fun. In that sense, it feels like reworked vintage, when done right and put together with a bit of love and a bit of cheekiness could continue to really boom.

C: The vintage industry is only getting bigger, there’s more sellers and accessibility to vintage than there ever has been. I see this continuing, with the rise of un-branded items getting bigger, we’ve seen that with military wear becoming more popular. Which needs to happen if vintage is ever going to overtake fast fashion. 
As people keep looking for that one of one piece, up-cycling and reworking will continue to grow as well. 

Store Visit: Vintage Threads - BasementApproved
Craziest piece you’ve ever sold?

F: Damn, I try to forget about them cos some just pain me too much! We sold an incredible Stone Island rugby top style sweater last year that dated back to their sponsorship of the Raduno Velico sailing team in 1986. It had such a fresh patch on it and it’s just jokes to think of a humble sailing team being sponsored by a brand that has had the trajectory of Stone Island. I also fell in love with our VT Rework: Space Jam jacket that we created out of some original 1996 sleeping bags, it just had the vibiest all over print and we super soft and cosy. 2 years ago though, we started properly curating our archive and I’m so blessed we did cos some pieces just ain’t worth selling and would keep me up at night if we had sold them!

C: There’s been a few items that stick in my mind, we started sourcing vintage watches a few years ago and came across an 80s 18k gold Omega watch that we promoted we were dropping on a Sunday at 2pm. We ended up having a premier league footballer message the page about it. As we don’t do any reservations he had to get his girlfriend to cop it as he was on the pitch playing at 2. We ended up getting a DM at half time double checking she’d copped it in time.

The other is an Adidas x Ying Yang yellow and black jacket. Back in 2019 we dropped it on the page and had a photo of it on the website, after it sold we must have had 100 dm’s about the jacket for 18 months nearly every day. It’s one of those crazy pieces, we will probably never find again but created so much love for the item.

Paolo Cimarra