Man and woman outside shop front

The mother-son duo championing vintage fashion in St Margarets

On a popular street in St Margarets, a mother and son run separate vintage fashion shops ten doors down the road from each other.

In 2013, Susan Roster, 54, opened The Secret Wardrobe on Crown Road, a vintage designer shop where she sells clothes on behalf of clients, keeping 60% of the sale price.

She had been working as the manager of a designer boutique when she realised the untapped potential lying in customers’ wardrobes, which were stuffed with forgotten designer pieces.

The shop was a hit with customers, who couldn’t have otherwise afforded to buy designer wear, and with clients.

Susan said: “It got stuff out of their wardrobes and it gave them some money because they got a cut of the selling price, so they didn’t feel as guilty going shopping again.”

Ten years later in July 2023, Susan’s son, Fin Roster, 24, opened his own shop, ThirtyFourth Vintage, on the very same street.

He’d fallen out of love with life as a gigging rock musician and, inspired by his mum’s passion for preloved fashion, decided to put all his savings into the project.

He said: “Growing up round here I never really thought there was something for people like me or the people I was friends with, somewhere to shop.

“I’d always sold vintage stuff on Depop so then just thought, why don’t I open a vintage shop?”

While The Secret Wardrobe caters to a mature female clientele, ThirtyFourth Vintage has a younger, edgy feel, stocking mainly streetwear and inspired by hip-hop culture, graffiti and tattoo art. 

Susan and Fin use different methods to acquire their stock too, with Susan sourcing pieces directly from clients and Fin sifting through mountains of garments in vintage warehouses. 

However, they are both motivated by the role that vintage fashion can play in eco-friendly living, a movement that Susan stressed has come on leaps and bounds in the last ten years. 

She said: “When I first opened, people would buy things but wouldn’t necessarily tell their friends that it was second hand, whereas now it’s a badge of honour.

“People are proud of it now, they’re not embarrassed.”

Fin added: “I think the whole fashion thing is ridiculous, people buying a two-piece outfit for a night out for a tenner and they’re never going to wear it again.

“Whereas I think if you buy a vintage pair of jeans from the 80s, they’re gonna last a lot longer, if they’ve lasted this long already.”

For Susan and Fin, the proximity between the two shops is a help, not a hindrance, as they can send customers on to one another and exchange stock. 

Susan said: “I do try and give him some advice, some of which he takes and some of which he doesn’t.

“But it’s brave for anyone to start a new business and I do feel happy that my son’s gone into the same business as me.”

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