Why Vintage Clothing?
Vintage Clothing Stores have been in the United States for many years now, only recently in the past 15 years have they been in more demand than ever. Perhaps it has to with the fact that today the fashion industry is always repeating itself, thus bringing pieces from the past back as trendy modern day attire. At one time a vintage clothing store’s clientele were solely individuals that were collectors of eccentric period pieces, or individuals that were looking for something only to wear to a costume party. Now days times have changed. Japanese kids have paid over $1000 American dollars for a pair of levis, the sole reason being they have a nearly transparent red line running down the inside seem, which is almost impossible to see to the naked eye. At the same time it is fashionable for a youth in the United States, guy or gal, to wear an old pair of levis or polyester pants, with an old t-shirt, much like those of the baby boomer generation.With generation Xer’s moving up in the corporate world, continuing to wear casual vintage pieces that were fashionable in there youth.
Most of the millennial generation, is following closely behind them keeping similar trends. Needless to say the average baby boomer still has no clue what a vintage store is, while nearly all generation X’ers and millennials have known what they are there entire lives. As time goes by and individuals from these generations age and spend more of there earned money in today’s economy, it is prevalent that more vintage clothing stores will open in the years to come. Unfortunately the buyer for a vintage shop has to continually find ways to supply his/her shop, in an industry that has no real set way of supplying, unlike that of a normal apparel shop.
Normal boutiques, or shops that don’t carry used apparel, have the opportunity to obtain merchandises either directly through the manufacturer, through suppliers or through sales representatives. Depending upon the set up of company, most manufacturers are companies that manufacture a certain product or products to wholesale either to suppliers or directly to a retail shop. The supplier then is a company that carries particular merchandise, such as accessories or clothing, and warehouses them for a manufacturer. This gives the retailer the opportunity to order what they need, when they need it. It works almost like a chain. A good supplier has a continual supply of what the retailer needs, and seldom has to put items on back order. Suppliers will also set up booths at trade shows giving the retail buyers for either a chain, or mom and pop retail shop, the opportunity to view all their new merchandise for the season. Trade shows are usually in large affluent cities and attract all the suppliers in a particular industry, giving opportunity for retail buyers to visit one place, a couple of times a year to place large orders.
Many companies also have Sales representatives to fill the gap between the retailer and the supplier. A sales rep is an individual that focuses on a particular region and the retailers in that region that carry the items that he represents. A sale rep will continuously visit with retailers, keeping up on what the consumer needs. Having a sales representative to mediate between the retailer and the supplier give the retailer the opportunity to keep up with what is hip or fashionable at any time. With manufactures, suppliers, trade shows, and sales reps, the buyer for a retail shop has a few different options to insure that the product he claims to carry, is in his shop when the consumer is there to purchase it. Without these ways of obtaining merchandise these buyers would have to rely on tactics not uncommon to those who buy for a vintage clothing stores. They would regrettably need to spend allot more time, effort, and money getting the products that consumer wants in his shop.
Buyers for Vintage Clothing Stores in the past are different from the buyers of today. When vintage shops customers were narrowed between theater students and collectors, buyers didn’t have to continuously re-fill their racks. As the market grew so did most buyers strategies. It seams some buyers are content with their techniques from the past, while others are forced to obtain their merchandise in other ways. Differences between the time and resources that the actual vintage buyers have, will predicate how and what type of merchandise each shop will carry. Some buyers choose to get their pieces by continuously spending there weekends hitting up vintage swap meets, garage sales, or estate sales. Everyone at one time or so, vintage collector or not, has spent a Saturday or Sunday morning driving from garage sale to garage sale. Some times it pays off and the buyer can find great eclectic pieces through shopping this way, but more times than none they’ll spend hours upon hours sifting through piles of clothes, or whatever the hunt is for, in peoples front yards to come up with a couple of pieces or none. A vintage collectors time is valuable, seeing how most buyers are in fact shop owners, and would rather spend time at there shop where they are needed most, instead of peoples yards. Vintage Clothing Swap Meets are a good alternative, if a city near the buyer even hosts one. Unfortunately most vendors at these swap meets are in fact shop owners themselves, trying to sling there second hand dead stock* for cheap, while they sell there good vintage merchandise at a retail price. Sometimes good deals can be found, but again, the time and effort to sift through these swap meets can be demanding, leaving buyers to many times empty handed.
Most Vintage buyers that need to purchase in bulk, skip over garage sales and vintage clothing swap meets completely, and go directly for the source. They hit a rag house, the end of the rode for most clothes. Rag houses are warehouses that collect every charitable clothing item that anyone, anywhere, has ever given away. They are kind of like the manufacturer for the vintage clothing industry, if you can accept that they are not actually manufacture anything. They are instead more like the ultimate supplier for the industry. Although supplying for vintage buyers is not what the company are set up to do. Some donated items are picked out and sold in second hand thrift stores. Nonetheless, it seems that more times than none, the clothing ends up at a rag house that will bail it, weigh it, and ship it to another country. Vintage shop buyers have bean hitting up rag houses for years now, asking them to sift through there merchandise and pull out pieces that would sell in a shop. Many rag houses have found that it is indeed profitable to separate vintage pieces from the rest of their rags, to sell to vintage collectors. For a little more per pound than the average bails, a vintage buyer can purchase 1000-pound bales of merchandise that they need for their shop. This is a better solution than hunting down single pieces at garage sales or swap meets, but it still leaves a lot to be un-desired.
Buying in this much bulk leaves a lot of vintage shop owners with more merchandise than needed. The vintage shop owner then acquires the need for a place to sift through these bales, other than at their vintage shop. If the vintage shop is a successful vintage shop, chances are it is in a good area that is proud of its retail space. Making the cost for a vintage shop owner to store bales expensive. Bales purchased from rag houses have to be sifted through, because usually a rag houses version of a good grade is much different than a vintage shop owners. Not everything is sell able; leaving the vintage shop owner throwing out much of it’s purchased articles. However, the prices are usually so good when a vintage buyer can purchase in so much bulk, that many times the loss of some merchandise still makes the sell able merchandise quite profitable. Unfortunately the added expense for a vintage shop to store the left over merchandise can be over bearing. Many vintage shop owners would rather pay a little more per article, than have to store left over articles that may never sell from the shop. Having time at all, to locate and make deals with these rag houses can be difficult enough for vintage shop owners. Many buyers have sole privileges with rag houses making it even more difficult for someone starting out in this industry to purchase merchandises this way. Until recently there has bean no other alternative to buyers purchasing large amounts of sellable Vintage Clothing. Having something to fill the gap, a vintage wholesaler if you will, would give today’s Vintage Buyers, and the ones of tomorrow, a whole new way of purchasing vintage items. It would present the buyer the opportunity to purchase items, in any amount, when they need them.
This would free up so much time for the buyer, providing them the chance to stay at home and run their vintage shop, or whatever it is they do. Having a Vintage Clothing Warehouse would also cut back on the extra storage a vintage shop owner would need, while offering him/her the opportunity to store only what is selling best that season. Until recently no one has tried to fill the gap, sure some have tried and are still trying. Most of them are single shop owners that are trying to find a way to resale items purchased in bulk, that they deemed unworthy to sale in there own retail shop. These individuals are not providing for many customers but are instead moving there dead stock for whatever they can. At the same time some overseas shipping companies have tried to fill the gap by offering smaller bundles than rag houses, selling items per piece instead of per pound. Unfortunately, these are over seas shipping companies, not vintage wholesalers, making most of these companies unaware of what the vintage consumer is in fact looking for. Attempts have been made, because the need is there, but so far only one company stands out as a leader in this evolving industry.
Dust Factory was established in 1992 in Atlanta, GA. In the past 20 years they expanded to 13 retail stores, which led to a wholesale division specializing in clothes form the 1940′s to the 1980′s. All of the retail branches were sold so that they direct their focus on energy to the wholesale business. With years of experience in the industry and feedback from the retail shop, duSt FaCTorY is able to keep up with trends in the market and can often predict what will be selling in the future. Dust Factory Vintage has been able to fill the gap between the rag house and the retail, actually becoming a supplier to a starving industry.
This type of supplier is new in this industry and many vintage buyers are un-aware that such a supplier even exists. The goal of the Dust Facatory is to provide the best customer service while offering quality products at reasonable prices. Many shop owners are finding that the opportunity to purchase hand picked articles in bulk, is well worth the cost, while cutting back on other expenses such as storage and time spent finding the desired articles. Basically duSt FaCTorY is giving buyers for vintage clothing store the same advantage that a new line has, while still maintaining the 200 to 500% mark up.
Set up like a normal warehouse, Dust Factory separates and stocks selected vintage pieces in large bins. They are continually re-filling their bins, keeping up on regional and seasonal trends. Some articles are carried all year around while others are more seasonal. In the summer time they may focus more towards t-shirts and cotton dresses, while in the winter there focus leans more towards denim, and leather. It is safe to say that they continually have in stock what the vintage buyer needs, most times before the buyer even knows they need it. They also give the buyer the opportunity to purchase any size amount they desire, weather it be an order of 20 pieces, so the buyer can see if the product will in fact move off their rack, or an order up to 200 pieces for more confident buyers. The price per piece is usually a little more per item than if purchased directly through a rag house, but un-like a rag house, Dust Factory offers a selected hand picked grade that is guaranteed of good sellable condition.
The company today is located in a warehouse district in San Diego, CA. The 3,000 ft. warehouse is broken up into an office area and storage for the merchandise. The clothing is separated and placed into large bins with articles of similar style. With so much storage, items are seldom ever put on back order. This giving the buyer the opportunity to have what they want, in the amount they want, when they need it.
After years of wholesaling vintage, Dust Factory Inc embraces the next step in the natural evolution of the vintage clothing market with vintage reconstruction. Along with it’s ability to meet the growing demands for and popularity of authentic vintage pieces, Dust Factory’s fashion team has created a line for both men and women that bridges the gap between old and new and unifies the vintage boutique with the specialty boutique. Particle reconstruction line combines vintage materials from the past with the creative style of the present.