I discovered the vintage delights of Shrimpton Couture through owner Cherie’s blog. I have been perusing her site for months without buying anything. Hard to believe, I know, but I love every piece so much that I can’t decide on just one! No wonder Shrimpton Couture was named one of the top 10 vintage clothing websites by Lulu’s Vintage Blog. Now, I have extra incentive to make up my mind, because Cherie emailed to tell me that she is offering free worldwide shipping. You European peeps should be especially excited because Cherie’s in Canada. Not only do you get free shipping, but the exchange rate is in your favor. Hop to it!
While I had Cherie’s attention, I figured I’d ask her a few questions. First, I found out that in her non-vintage-clothing life, she is a mining executive, so I asked her to find me a little diamond mine. Then I asked her about the clothes.
WendyB: How did a mining gal like yourself wind up with a vintage clothing site?
Cherie: I started out as a collector. I have always been a clothes-crazy girl and I have always been a label and quality snob and quite frankly vintage enabled me to buy the quality I wanted to wear in clothes at a price I could afford it at, early on. I also quickly learned the appeal of being the girl who “had the only one of its kind.” As the years progressed I relentlessly “upgraded” my collection. I would buy better vintage and distribute the old to my girlfriends. Eventually the prices I paid for what I had got a bit out of control and so I started selling off my collection. But only to be able to buy more. It was the concept of $1 in – and about $10 out.
I made friends with a few key “pickers” (this is people in the business who source vintage – they “pick” through to find the good stuff) and made deals with them to buy the cream of the crop for a little more then what dealers or store owners would pay them – they loved me for that. I also discovered online shopping but was often disappointed with what arrived. It seemed so hit and miss. As my personal income rose so did my budget for buying vintage and I was able to start shopping current labels as well. This just made me pickier and pickier. I started buying from more established sites online and at some point a light bulb went off and I thought — I can do this better. That’s how the website was born.
WendyB: Besides the fact that I can’t decide which dress I need most, what’s special about Shrimpton Couture?
Cherie: I try to combine the concept of great vintage with modern shopping. When I started the site my aim was to treat it like a current boutique – a vintage Net-a-Porter. The kind of place I wanted to shop at. Everything I sell through the site is sent out clean, as close to perfect as we can make it and ready to wear. It’s sent wrapped in a black box in tons of tissue and ribbon so when you open it you know it is something special. I can’t tell you how many times I have received a $1000 vintage dress in the mail in a manila envelope or an old grocery store box. It freaks me out. That does not happen at Shrimpton Couture. What is the point of spending big bucks if it is not fun? I want to feel spoiled and want my clients to feel that way too.
WendyB: Is your company’s name a reference to ’60s model Jean Shrimpton?
Cherie: I wanted a name that would transcend vintage. I love Jean Shrimpton and loved the combination of her last name with the word “couture.” An interesting aside – Jean’s niece actually emailed me from England early on to say she had come across the site and that she loved it! That made my day.
WendyB: I like to ask store owners how the hell they find the great things they sell, but that question makes a lot of them bitchy and crazy. Jebus! It’s not like I’m going to run out and start doing the same thing that they’re doing. Don’t I have enough problems? Anyway, you seem nice, so I’m going to ask you: “How the hell do you find the great things you sell?”
Cherie: First of all I have an extensive collection of my own that I have built up over the last 15 years. I currently have the entire third of my house floor filled with racks. I can go shopping in my own house! Second those buyers I mentioned — well two of them have remained with me and they are fabulous, crazy collectors that are as bad or worse then I am and are now part of the Shrimpton team. They are picky as hell, have an incredible eye and are willing to hand me over things on a regular basis. Finally, I still do go out and actually buy vintage myself. I am lucky in that I often travel globally for my life outside of vintage so I shop all over the world for the site. There are items on the site from as far off as Russia and South Africa!
WendyB: I can’t decide what I want from your store — there’s too much! Help me out by picking three pieces for me.
Cherie: My three top picks for you would be: the 1970s zip front Paganne, the black Ossie Clark and the one-shoulder 70s dress in the evening section. I also think you would look incredible in the new lace dress in the evening section and the 1940s sculptural dress in the evening section (I don’t think this is your usual style but think you would look amazing in it).
WendyB: See you soon!