When entering a vintage shop, there is an immediate sense of intimacy and sentimentality that comes with seeing antique and preloved items brought together in one space. This is what it felt like when I entered IT’S VINTAGE‘s flagship store for the first time, which had just opened a few days prior to my visit. The giant and bright yellow wall outside with their name plastered on it catches your attention immediately, while the warm yellow lights, retro interiors, wooden accents, and racks of miscellaneous and colorful clothing invite you inside.
The mind behind the store is Fed Pua, who also serves as the shop’s Creative Director. Prior to this, Fed already owned the successful brand Factory, which made its claim to fame with vintage-inspired statement jackets, born out of his desire for the design he had in his head but couldn’t find anywhere else. In the midst of Factory’s success, Fed put up a series of pop-up shops selling vintage clothing. While he says the first pop-up was a gamble, having expected only a few friends to come in support, he was pleasantly surprised to see how well-received they were by the general public. The subsequent success of these pop-ups lead to him and his team finally opening IT’S VINTAGE’s first store in Makati’s Legazpi Village, brought to life by Studio Mara.
While one can immediately see the sentiments he holds for vintage through his stores and personal style, it’s the affectionate way in which Fed describes how he came to discover vintage and the beginnings of IT’S VINTAGE that this passion really shows through.
“Clothing for me then was just a necessity, function. You just wear it and it wasn’t fun. But the first time I went to a vintage store, it was like, oh my god, clothing can be fun and so versatile,” Fed explains.
“It’s like a whole different world when you find the right piece and the right outfit, which I had previously never been exposed to. That’s why I got super fascinated by vintage clothing, seeing how personal it can be. How personal even buying from an independent designer can be, kasi it has its own story, rather than just buying something off the rack that, literally, a million other people have.”
In my conversation with Fed, it became evident that the personality of vintage is a layered one. The items found in the store already came with their own individual history, having been a personal item to someone elsewhere in the world in a different time. This aspect of clothing is repurposed in the careful curation of vintage stores—in the world of vintage, there’s a committed desire to highlight the value of their items through the buying experience.
“I think people are easing up to the idea [of vintage stores] now; at first, we weren’t as well received. Because the mentality was ‘oh, I used to have this,’ or ‘ukay lang ‘to, why are you selling it for so much?’ It’s hard to explain that, aside from the product, we’re also selling the experience of the shop itself,” says Fed.
“Each vintage store is very different, but we’re all competing for who has the best curation and experience,” he explains.
“You’re not just paying for the item; you’re paying for the person who’s putting this set of items together in this one space, the music, the people. That’s what we’re really fighting for, that’s why there’s a premium on the items that we sell.”
This is where the second layer of personality in vintage comes in: an encounter unique to each customer. In the world of fast fashion and online shopping, the value of the buying experience has decreased. “Going to a fast fashion brand can feel very routine,” says Fed. “Like, ‘I’ll just check it out and go.’ Nothing really sticks in your head after. We just want to bring back that sense na, when you come into the store and when you leave, you have your own story to tell.”
“From the team greeting you, to the smell, to the music—there’s something that you remember when you leave, and it’s different for everyone. When you come out of our store or one of our pop-ups, you look at what you bought and it takes you back to a time, a place, a feeling. That’s what we really want to recreate, that’s why we do it.”
What’s so endearing about vintage is the clear sense of these items being passed on from one person to the next, a sort of connection made between different lives lived in different times. But what makes a lot of vintage stores even more special is how much of the shop owner can be found in these items as well.
Half of the items found in IT’S VINTAGE are handpicked by Fed in flea-markets and vintage stores abroad and brought back to Manila in his personal luggage. Everything in and about the store has a particular flair that comes with his curation, with statement racer jackets, band t-shirts, colorful button-downs, jewelry from Souvenir, and more on display, while the interiors include an extensive vinyl collection that’s played throughout the day, vintage Barbies, and taxidermy birds behind the counter, among other details. For everything found in IT’S VINTAGE, one can find pieces of Fed as well.
“I would always think people came for this or that, but at the end of the day, they come because of the curation, so basically they come because of me [laughs]. It’s the things I find, it’s the things that I put together, those are the ones they really gravitate towards. So from the pop-ups, I realized that the brand is a part of you. You can’t hide behind the look of the brand, you can’t make the brand a separate entity. It is you.”
In terms of IT’S VINTAGE’s future, Fed doesn’t see the flagship store being its first and last. As part of their goal to become more accessible, Fed and his team hope to open stores in various spots in Manila. “Different areas, different audiences,” he says. “I know the demographic in these areas demand different kinds of items. a store in a mall isn’t out of the question. “You can’t avoid mall culture. If you can’t beat them, join them,” he quips. “With that we can at least try to compete with the fast fashion retail scene.”
And with more stores also comes more opportunities to innovate. “We’ll change up the looks of the stores, we’ll make the stuff very different, because we champion that whole experience aspect. Going to each store would be a very distinct experience hopefully, while still being a part of me. Everything that I love about IT’S VINTAGE, but a little bit different.”
You can visit the IT’S VINTAGE flagship store on Tuesdays to Sundays from 12PM to 8PM at 2/F Planters Products Inc. Building, 109 Esteban Street, Legazpi Village, Makati City.
Photos by Miguel Tarrosa