At AuH2O Thriftique, we’re pretty old school about how we stock our store. We go out and unearth the gently worn gems ourselves for two reasons:
1. We’re utterly addicted to the thrill of the hunt.
2. We’re DIRT CHEAP.
We spend hours on end in icky, icky places to deliver the goods at the lowest possible cost. The only thing we sell that doesn’t involve a shit ton of patience, grit and endurance on our part? Jewelry. We order in bulk from our vintage suppliers, a box of baubles arrives and wee! Kate Goldwater and I are both Jewish, so opening those boxes is basically the closest thing to Christmas morning we’ve ever experienced.
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We dress up for work at AuH2O, and by “dress up,” I mean we don clothes in a way that reinforces one of life’s greatest truths: Secondhand and style aren’t mutually exclusive terms. I work the thriftique 2-3 days a week: It takes me an average of 30 minutes to figure out what to wear each time. On certain mornings, the clock runs out before I’ve completed the exercise.
Do I open late? Fuck no – I’m a professional. I leave my apartment half-dressed and on time, and change my outfit upon arriving at the store. It’s usually as simple as selecting a top or dress and a few accessories from my personal stock, but a few mornings ago, simplicity and speed went out the window. In lieu of picking something wearable in its current form, I chose an ankle-length tie-waist dress.
I do not wear ankle-length dresses. Ever. But the print was sooo cute, and the jersey knit had the coziness of a broken-in t-shirt. I loved this dress and goddammit, I was going to figure out a way to wear it. So I did what I always do when I fall for something too long for my liking: I busted out my scissors, and hacked a few inches off the hem.
Allow me to paint you a picture of the scenario: I’m in the dressing room with the scissors. No customers are in the store yet, but I’m open for business and, heretofore, on a serious time crunch. I try the dress on and ballpark the hem. I take it off. I hack it. I put it back on and… BALLS. Way. Too. Short. This wasn’t a mini-dress, and it didn’t look like a tunic either. It looked like the mistake it was – a dress hemmed too short for wearability. SHIT.
Luckily, I had a gauzy, layered, ruffle and lace trimmed H&M miniskirt on hand, so I layered it under the mistake of a mini dress. It masqueraded as a slip effectively enough, but it was too thick to lie flat under the thin fabric – from the waist down, I was a big bunchy mess. I threw a blazer on over the combo to hide the bunch and survived the day.
I couldn’t leave the issue of the too-short dress unresolved – this thang was way too cute not to salvage. The ruffled trim of the H&M miniskirt was a perfect pairing. All I had to do was cut the hem from the garment, sew it together to preserve the layered material, then sew that piece of material onto the bottom of the dress hem.
This took nine hours.
Thankfully, I had Freaks & Geeks for company.
Pretty cute, yes? Oh, and both the dress and the skirt-turned-hem got snagged at Goodwill Outlet Center.
In other news, it’s Fashion Week. I could do a long-winded rant on the ridiculousness of the scene, but these days, it’s just not a worthy use of my time. Better to keep you entertained with subjects marginally relevant to your lives, methinks.
How’s this for a compromise: It’s Fashion Week, and I don’t give a flying fuck.
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I received a kickass shipment of vintage jewelry a few weeks ago. Among the lot were a few loose lockets, pendants and charms (hereafter, “loosies.”) Let me tell you a little something about finding chains for loosies; it’s effing IMPOSSIBLE. Why? Because 18 inches doesn’t cut it anymore – every shopper who comes into AuH2O wants 24 inches or more. I buy my vintage jewelry in bulk to keep costs down (eBay is a godsend); cool, durable chains at 24 inches or more aren’t cheap; the more I spend, the more I have to mark up, and me-no-likey-mark-ups.
I puzzled over an alternative to buying additional chains for my loosies, and then I remembered: I HAD chains. Yards of them actually, from the hardware store, purchased for an ill-conceived window decor idea. (DON’T ASK.)
I managed to ward off the fear of concocting something Flava Flav-esque, and busted out some jump rings and extra clasps I had lying around. (I like crafts.) I found a smaller gold chain in the process, and figured I might be able to attach it to a smaller loosie.
Behold, the glorious results!
I know, I know – you’re all just DYING to hear how I salvaged the torn $10 bunny-tastic jacket from Green Village Junk Shop. Actually, “torn” is an understatement. Gaping hole is more accurate. Remedying the damage required far more than a needle and thread; it needed to be masked entirely; transformed by outside forces. The hole had to be filled, but with what? This wasn’t a typical patchwork job – it’s not like we’re talking about an effing pair of jeans here. Luckily, once I realized the material used to salvage the jacket had to be as fluff-errific as the jacket itself, the answer became abundantly clear.
I don’t own mink blankets or bearskin rugs; I’m not rich enough to be that ostentatious. Yet. I do, however, own a vintage fur scarf. At least I did, until I cut it up in the name of the greater score.
- Extra Fur in Complementary Color
- Industrial Strength Scissors
- Thick, Durable, Dangerously Sharp Needle
- Cream Colored Thread
- This American Life Podcast (Because stabbing into fur sans finger injury over and over again requires full visual focus, i.e. NO TV. A thimble probs would have been a good idea – Dear Hindsight, I hate you. Moving on.)
(1) Place extra fur on top of hole. Shift until piece of extra fur covers hole in its entirety. Trim extra fur into appropriate shape. Fur patch accomplished.
(2) Measure a piece of thread using the length of your arm as a guide. Snip. Thread needle. Use needle threader to avoid added frustration/aggression.
(3) Smart, patient people pin fabric into place before sewing it onto other fabric. I hail from the DIY school of thought that says imperfections/flaws are beautiful (Just like people! You can gag now). This gives me a stellar excuse to skip tedious steps a la pre-stitch pinning; to each her own.
(4) Sewing time! I started from the interior of the jacket and pierced through both fur pieces for two stitches to secure the patch to the jacket (this may or may not be called a basting stitch), then I realized going from the inside to the outside and back again was – on account of the thickness of the material – a massive beotch and a half. The remaining stitching was done exclusively on the exterior, on a diagonal of sorts.
Can I give you a more technical explanation? Eff no – this is sewing for the domestically challenged, 101. Just make it your biznass to secure the patch to the fur sans excessive heinousness, and you’ll be fine.
A big fat bonus of working with fur? It’s voluminous enough to hide mistakes.
My sewing skills are well below average, but I was still able to make sweet citrus juice out of this lemon of a coat. I actually dig the slight contrast of the cream patch against the white coat – looks like a badass back pocket, methinks.
$10.00 + 1 hour of DIY time = 1 fluffy dream of a coat. A worthy purchase and allocation of energy indeed. Loves it!
My inbox is regularly clogged with press releases announcing new collections. Said press releases usually go straight to the trash folder upon receipt. It’s not that I’m against new clothing lines or whatevs. It’s that “new” alone isn’t enough to pique my interest anymore.
To thrift a Goodwill Outlet Center is to realize the overwhelming amount of unused textile excess produced by our material world. Is a lot of that excess uber fugly? You bet, and therein lies the challenge for burgeoning designers.
Sketching out a collection, outsourcing the labor, and producing the wares en masse with zero regard for the environmental impact of the endeavor amounts to business as usual. Making something from nothing is the norm. There’s nothing groundbreaking about what’s already been done.
Making something from something – breaking down or restyling fabric that’s already out there – is a refreshing, forward-thinking approach to fashion that improves on its checkered past.
De-materialization makes green more than a buzzword: ALIOMI suggests it’s the new black.
The concept for ALIOMI started years ago, with a few Sarah Lawrence undergrads too broke to shop retail. They became seasoned thrifters, then they took it to the next level, re-tweaking and embellishing their secondhand finds to suit their badass style and unique taste. Necessity truly is the mother of inventive fashion lines.
ALIOMI is a mishmash of vintage fabulosity and DIY gems. I mean, I can stud and scissor, but these girls can STUD and SCISSOR. I’ve seen the line up close: The embellishment might be done by hand, but there’s nothing DIY about it. It’s professional, artful, responsibly made and one-of-a-kind.
The goods pictured above range from $28 – $145 – in all honesty, I’m usually not on board with $76.00 embellished cutoffs. Had I not seen this line in person, I might have rationalized against a splurge of this ilk on the grounds that I could DIY something equally amazing for less.
Regardless of whether or not that’s the case, finding, distressing, and studding the shorts myself would take four hours, minimum. Six if I held myself to the perfectionism characteristic of ALIOMI’s DIY stuffs. The shorts in question, at $76.00, amount to $12.66 an hour for six hours of work.
My point? The thought, time and energy that go into crafting a kickass reconstructed item are extensive, hence the reason most reworked vintage lines have an average per-item cost of over $250. ALIOMI’s price points are uber reasonable in comparison.
Wanna help this stellar new line get off the ground? Donate a buck or two to their Kickstarter campaign.
Cheers to socially and environmentally conscious sartorial endeavors of this ilk. IMHO, up-and-coming designers would be wise to take a cue from ALIOMI, and use de-materialization to inform their future lines.
It’d certainly make for some inspiring press releases.