UVic thrift market highlights Victoria’s vintage fashion scene

Michele Pujol Room transformed into UVic’s first large-scale vintage market

A rack of vintage T-shirts, photo by Gabby Elhav.

Photo by Gabby Elhav.

Entering the Michele Pujol Room in the Student Union Building at UVic, one would expect to find white walls covered with old displays from corporate events. Last month,  2nd Degree Vintage’s thrift market turned that expectation on its head. The usual everyday humming of ZAP Copy printers and the murmuring of Health Food Bar employee gossip was replaced with blaring 90’s hip hop, while the Michele Pujol Room was adorned with rows of vintage clothing racks as far as the eye could see.

The vintage clothing market, hosted by UVic alumni Julio Martelino and Oliver Coyle of 2nd Degree Vintage, ran from Jan. 23–27, creating a week-long home for 30+ Victoria and Vancouver based vendors, all with different visions and missions.

After speaking with some vendors I got an idea of what their thrifted finds represented. Alisha of Meesh Vintage (@meeshvintage), presents her inventory as a “personal closet” — thrifting troves she now shares with the vintage community. Another vendor, Jake of 778 Thrifting (@778thrifting) curates rock band pieces, showcasing KISS and AC/DC t-shirts from several decades.

The sea of vintage pieces was like no other in Victoria. There were full racks dedicated to vintage Stüssy, Carhartt, Ed Hardy, The North Face, Harley Davidson, and countless other notable fashion brands. The pieces showcased defied fast fashion by being sourced secondhand and accruing new-found value years later, while still remaining household names in the skate and streetwear scenes.

In the Michele Pujol Room, streetwear’s historical influence was recognized through a chill atmosphere, blasting hip hop and jazz tracks that reflected the styles on the racks, and posters of famous artists and activists for fashion diversity were plastered around the room. Overall, the level of recognition for fashion history was palpable. Present day vintage sellers also found inspiration in one another, a cross fertilization which undoubtedly keeps the Victoria fashion community vibrant. Vendors and designers flipped through each other’s racks like file cabinets, trading accessories and sharing style tips to fill the hours as buyers cruised by. There was an unspoken language between vintage vendors; a language of respect that goes beyond words, and shows up in the sourcing and selling of their pieces.

Despite the excitement of the vintage clothing market at UVic, students had mixed opinions on the event. The prices of the clothing sold at the vintage market had mixed reactions from many of those looking through the racks. On the Victoria-based fashion page Vic Fits (@vicfitsss), Victoria locals were asked for their opinions regarding vintage re-selling and their thoughts on the market.

Vintage jeans reading "survival of the fittest!" embroidered, photo by Gabby Elhav.

Photo by Gabby Elhav.

“People respect the finding of one-of-a-kind vintage pieces,” says a first-year UVic student. “But many students don’t have the income to pay $50 for a sweater.”

Another student chimed in saying, “What makes vintage fashion special is how low it’s priced, reflecting its wear, when re-sellers are pricing pieces from a thrift store for hundreds of dollars, it’s kind of a slap in the face.”

Re-selling has been a widely contested conversation for vintage clothing lovers over the past few years. With thrift-shopping for clothes becoming more popular than ever, the act of re-selling has been argued by some to be an act of ethically consuming and upcycling old clothing, and by others, the gentrification of thrifting.

It should be noted that after speaking with vendors, most, if not all sellers at the vintage clothing market sourced their inventory from clothing depots that, if not purchased, go to landfills worldwide. However, is purchasing these clothes and then reselling them for double the price the best way to keep clothes from going to waste? One way to avoid the divisive act of re-selling is to swap thrifted finds. For example, the UVSS is hosting a clothing swap from Feb. 27–28, where students can swap their old clothing with each other to find new favourites.

Regardless, the vintage clothing market was a hit, and was popular among UVic students who don’t have the time to go off campus to hunt for vintage pieces. 2nd Degree Vintage created an encouraging space for vendors and buyers to find, sell, and trade clothing. Vintage markets are popular in Victoria, however this was the first-ever market hosted at UVic that featured 30+ vendors from across B.C.

Victoria has a thriving underground fashion community, and hopefully this event paves the way for more markets at UVic to inspire and showcase some of the best and boldest fashion in Victoria.


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