Competing with corporate giants maybe though, but ERA Vintage Wear is waving the indie flag.
Fashion is like the music world: Each as its major labels, independent artists and all sort of different styles. Using this metaphor, ERA Vintage Wear can be called an indie artist that is pushing the boundaries, maintaining creative control and possessing a certain insider appeal. It is an identity that ERA takes on proudly.-despite all the difficulties incumbent upon being a fashion David in an age of Goliaths!
ERA Vintage Wear is striving to be the vintage fashion equivalent of early Nirvana: There’s a degree of charm & coolness that you can’t buy. As the artist-designer-curator behind ERA, I, Elaine, am cheering the rise of independent voices in fashion, convinced that the orgy of megabrands, accessories & logos in recent years will finally ease and give some elbow room in a crowded market.
As Rei Kawakubo once said:’’ Ultimately people like to be free and independent, given half the chance’’. This is a major component of the brand philosophy behind ERA Vintage Wear and myself. There is more and more demands for independent points of view, because not everyone wants to be the same as everyone else! I sure know I don't! Like NEVER !
Doing sustainable design through vintage clothes does not have to be done in such a politically charged manner but I don’t think people buy a garment so much anymore because there is a certain label. I think people are really looking for something that speaks to them, something they REALLY like. I am not suggesting that people are about to turn their backs on such fashion pillars as Chanel, Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton, or Dior. But the ever widening appeal of mega luxury was bound to trigger a reaction. It creates a void and an opportunity for the customer who wants to have a more unique and less identifiable branded look. This is the sphere that ERA Vintage Wear inhabit! There is a willingness of customers to try something less well known for the sake of personal style, higher quality for values, and ethics.
As the designer-curator-artist behind the ERA Vintage Wear ideology, I strongly believe the new luxury is individuality in an era where the word luxury is commonplace. Designers and fast-fashion labels might be all the rage now, but consumers get tired of the short expiration dates, and the shoddy quality.There is a growing hunger for unique shops, under-the-radar collections, personalized service and exceptional quality and these are all what ERA Vintage Wear stands for! We want to show a real point of difference!
Vintage style labels are, more then ever, desirable.Even more so now, when fashion is so formulized. A focus on big brands inevitably creates an opening for small players. You always need the alternatives, the indie to keep it fresh!
It is not my aim to ever be corporate. I have a lot of freedom when it is my own business, my own customers, and for me that has always work for the last 14 years since I created ERA Vintage Wear. Freethinking is what generates the ideas and trends that keep the fashion industry percolating.
Nothing moves in the world unless a few risks are taken. It may seem that endless numbers of high-powered financial types are eager to get into fashion, in reality, it’s no easy task to convince the money folks of the viability of sustainable design and vintage upcycling. So the entire upstart of ERA was done without any financial backing, and no cash injection except for my humble own money. Not even the bank gave us any help or line of credit or any help! It was just sheer willingness and consistency in believing in my own brand philosophy and applying it day in and day out that lifted ERA Vintage Wear into a concrete life style in November 2004.
There was no one that understood : No luxury conglomerate because they need to stay focus on their big brands, private equity funds wants established businesses, and most hedge funds wants sizable deal. So I did it my way, alone like a big girl.
After the upstart, ERA Vintage Wear never seeked a backer. I prefer to focus on my design work and reinvest whatever I made back into my business. I never want to find myself in a trap of needing money and dealing with backers that are always trying for a quick return: for me this signifies death of my freedom as an artist. The moment you have a backer, you loose control over everything you do. Backers always want to steer you into a certain direction. FREEDOM, all indie artists agree, is the ultimate reward. It’s what allows ERA Vintage Wear to open the 1st shop in the pre-gentrification of Griffintown for 9 years: an off-the-beaten-path move that no backers would have ever agreed upon...and pushing it further by leaving the street address once the neighbourhood got over-gentrification issues such as rent cost and quality of customers. When it got too trendy, ERA moved into a very industrial New York worthy 4300 sqft loft that was my painting studio since 1994. Staying on the off-beaten-path once again for the sack of keeping the philosophy of the shop to play by its own rules! And yes, sometimes misunderstood with at-my-own pace approach to style and fashion by the local fashion industry but always felt supported by the larger global community. Which in itself led to the website creation.
The core quality of being an artist is to realise that you love the craft you decide to express yourself with. For me it is upcycling vintage clothes more then anything else. It is not about the profit s or the business side. All that comes later.