Online store Pure Vintage Clothing has opened its first physical shop in the heart of Kingston, bringing sustainable fashion to the community.
After selling clothes online for two and a half years, the small business made its grand store opening on 18 November at the Bentalls Centre in Kingston.
The team hand-pick quality vintage streetwear from around the world by luxury brands including Burberry, Champion, Nike, Fila, Ralph Lauren, Levi’s, YSL and Tommy Hilfiger.
Pure Vintage Clothing director Alex Gilbert said: “Ever since starting the business its been one of my dreams to open a physical store. It brings second-hand clothing into a better light.
“I think it’s imperative to try and promote a sustainable way of living. Although the prices of fast fashion are unbeatable, it’s so important for us as a society to shift our habits from buying things because they are cheap to buying things because they will last.
“One of the best things about our clothes, even though they’re not expensive, is that you know they’ll last because they’ve lasted for 20 years and, if you keep the item in good condition, you can resell it in five years time for the same price so it’s more of an investment. You wouldn’t be able to do that with fast fashion.”
Gilbert described how the business began as a hobby when he started gaining a sense of fashion from the age of 15, and reselling his clothes through sites like Depop for profit.
He added: “I thought that I needed to have branded clothing to be fashionable, but my parents refused because it wasn’t worth it as it was quite expensive and we didn’t have that kind of money.
“So then I started scouting the internet, eBay, Depop and local charity shops to try and find branded clothing on a limited budget.”
Enrolled in flying school, the income was a side hustle for Gilbert. However when the pandemic hit, everything changed.
He said: “It all came to a head when the pandemic came about. Pilots weren’t wanted anymore so I lost my place in flying school which was tough. I felt very very lost at that point.
“However I realised that lots of my clothes were selling online throughout the lockdowns. I quite enjoyed listing online so I thought I’d try and expand but I didn’t have enough money.”
Gilbert turned to working long day and night shifts at a warehouse throughout the pandemic in order to save enough money to buy from wholesalers and sell for a profit, allowing the business to grow.
Slowly the business grew online, expanding into renowned London marketplaces such as Brick Lane Upmarket and Portobello Market, and building a large Instagram following of more than ten thousand followers where they share style inspiration.
However, as the pandemic ended and the business saw online sales decline, Gilbert decided to open a physical store, open seven days a week in the heart of Kingston.
He said he hasn’t been alone in the journey, thanking the help of his supportive team: Hattie Seabrook, Ben Oscroft and Olivia Spinks.
He added: “They’ve all been very involved in the business, it’s not been just me, they’re all entrepreneurs in their own right. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them.”