Victory Girl Vintage – the Canadian vintage shop of the week is filled with a big selection of dazzling, romantic dresses from 1930s- 1950s but thats not the only thing you will find there. Gorgeous coats, skirts and sweater tops will help you build an entire vintage wardrobe!
Dominique de Merteuil: How did you start your adventure in selling vintage clothes?
Victory Girl Vintage: I started working at vintage stores when I was 16 and all through university. I was living in an area of Toronto called Kensington Market that is really well known for vintage. I was literally surrounded by dozens of vintage shops and amazing clothing! After I graduated I was working in the fashion industry as a buyer, but I really needed a more creative outlet and started selling vintage as a side hustle. It was hard juggling a really demanding day job and a side business but it was rewarding and I couldn’t stop. Things were steadily picking up so about a year and a half ago I thought why not take the plunge and do this full time. It was the best decision I ever made!
DDM: What can we find in your vintage shop? For example, do you specialise in a particular era or type of garment, accessory, etc?
VGV: You will mainly find women’s dresses, separates and lingerie from the 1930’s to 1950’s, and a few items from the 1960’s and 1970’s fixed in. I’ll be adding a men’s section soon so stay tuned!
DDM: Is there a process you go through when selecting garments for your shop? Perhaps you have a list or a criteria, that you use when deciding which garments will be perfect for your shop and your clients?
VGV: I personally love the 1930’s and 1940’s so when I’m looking for items for the shop I do gravitate towards that time frame. I think most of my customers are interested in that era as well, so finding those pieces are always top priority. However, I’m open to most decades as long as it’s an interesting piece. I always look at an item and think about how it can be styled. It might look like nothing special on the hanger, but if you add the right shoes, a belt or a hat, it can be completely transformed. That’s also why I like showing an item on a model. It helps customers visualize the styling and how it might look on them.
DDM: Where do you find all those beautiful vintage clothes and accessories for your shop? (if it’s not a secret!)
VGV: I get asked this question almost every day! But it’s find of a secret. I do frequent local flea markets, antique shows and auctions. I’m always on the look out for something interesting!
DDM: What is your favourite period in time and why?
VGV: My favourite time period is the 1930’s and 1940’s. Even before I started wearing clothing from this time, I was very interested in what was happening in the world both socially and politically. I loved that in both decades fashion had to be very innovative due to material shortages and rationing. Designers and home sewers had to be creative with often limited resources but were still able to make some of the most beautiful garments. The prints were also so fun! I’m also very interested in how women participated in WWII and that’s how I came up with the name of my shop, Victory Girl Vintage.
DDM: What message/advise do you have for women who have never bought vintage clothes before? For example: what are the key pieces to start building a vintage look? What to keep in mind when making a purchase?
VGV: My advice is to build on the wardrobe you already have. Wearing head to toe vintage isn’t for everyone, but mixing vintage and modern is a great way to create a unique look. For example wearing a vintage kimono or robe with a modern t-shirt and jeans can actually look very fashion forward. Coats are also a great first time vintage buy because when you wear them with a modern look it doesn’t scream vintage. I always say don’t be afraid to stand out! You might feel a bit self conscious stepping out of your comfort zone but people will admire you for being unique.
DDM: What are your 3 favourite items that you have ever sold and why have you chosen to name those particular ones?
I have many “why did I ever sell that?” items! Here are my top three:
A stunning 1940’s blue rayon gabardine Rain Master trench coat. It fit me perfectly! But I have so many coats that I talked myself into selling it. Immediate regret!
An amazing 1940’s Kamehameha Hawaiian rayon dress. The colours in this dress are gorgeous! I saved the photos I took so I can go back an admire it often.
A 1940’s full length rayon coral gown with teal beads on the bodice. I didn’t want to take this one off after taking photos! I love the vibrant coral colour and zip front style.
DDM: What are your favourite vintage brands and are they very difficult to find?
VGV: I actually don’t pay much attention to brands. Of course it’s amazing to find a sought after brand like Catalina, Elsa Schiaparelli or Dior (some of my favourites) and I am looking for labels when hunting for vintage, but I am always happier to find something really special and beautiful even if it doesn’t have a label. It’s more about the piece for me.
DDM: What’s in your wardrobe? Do you personally wear vintage clothes on a daily basis?
VGV: The only time you will find me out of vintage is when I’m walking my dog (don’t want to risk muddy paws on a beautiful dress) or going to yoga. I mainly wear clothing from the late 1930’s to mid 1940’s because the cuts and styles suit my body shape the best and it’s a time in twentieth century history that I find very interesting. I love high waisted trousers with a patterned blouse, anything floral and a black dress in a simple silhouette that has some type of embellishments (studs, embroidery, or a decorative trim). I don’t often wear 1950’s but I do have a weakness for a great novelty print and they look so pretty in the summer.