By: Claudie Benjamin, Guest Writer
In the increasingly competitive world of vintage clothes, it’s important for a business owner to have a singular niche. Twenty years ago, clothes out of the 60s and 70s were desirable vintage items.
Garments from the earlier decades from the 30’s-50’s could be found claiming high prices. Now, they are even rarer, requiring very deep pockets.
So, in this feverish market that happily coincides with the current ardent concern for the environment, awareness of the link between manufacture and pollution and aiming to reduce the carbon imprint, sustainability matters. Recycling for eco-ideals meshes perfectly with the quest for clothes that have character and history and signal individuality.
The niche captured by Charleston entrepreneur Amy Rose Walter, owner of Red Rose Vintage, focuses on items worn in the 1980s, 90s, and early 2000’s, along with special finds that connect with iconic backstories.
Red Rose Vintage prides themselves on providing authentic, effortlessly cool vintage at affordable prices.
On the Red Rose website, you can find unique graphic sweatshirts and 80s high waisted mom jeans under $40. They have everything from glam sequin special occasion vintage gowns to 90s crop tops and high cut bikinis.
Their men's section features throwback vintage Levis, sports jerseys and worn in flannels. Along with these affordable pieces, they also have high end rare vintage t-shirts ranging from $500-$1000. Red Rose Vintage has two Instagram stores, one of which is called The Red Rose Vintage Lottery, held online five days a week. It highlights vintage items that customers can bid on starting at just $5.
Amy has a team of buyers out everyday scouring and searching for vintage with that something special. They look on eBay, Craigslist, flea markets and local homeowner posts.
An enticing feature of Red Rose Vintage is that it operates out of a 1976 Airstream (right). It’s a sort of pop up closet on wheels, open just Wednesdays (10 am - 2 pm) and Saturdays (11 am - 3 pm) at 424 King Street.
They put “new” arrivals out every time. So get there quick. There's a fitting room and a whole outside setup as well.
The rest of the week Amy and her staff are mining for vintage finds, photographing and posting photos of merchandise for sale via Instagram and the Red Rose Vintage website.
Amy worked in hospitality and hosted karaoke before moving to Charleston nine years ago. She came with a large personal vintage collection and began this journey simply by posting items for sale on Facebook. She was doing pop-ups around town and had been dreaming of opening a store until she came across the Airstream on Craigslist. Upon exploring the idea of taking her love for vintage into serious business, her parents were supportive and her dad helped her renovate the RV.
Amy closely follows specialized online media to know what’s hot and what's not. Promotion is mostly by word of mouth and she has a following of regular customers. She’s also a promotion for vintage in that she dresses creatively and is often stopped in the street by potential customers who ask where she got what she’s wearing.
“I like wearing statement vintage pieces that other people don’t have and can’t find easily but mixed with modern,” she says, making it clear that insight into whether to wear vintage exclusively or in combination with new items is a choice driven by personal flair and style, commitment meant to eco-values and preferences regarding comfort.