Shir Shtein, a 29-year-old textile designer from Israel, was despondent over the loss of her grandmother, Olga, in 2015. And while collecting her items out of storage, Shtein found a lifetime of clothing and other possessions.
Shtein described that time in her life a “significant turning point.” Discovering the vintage items triggered something from within — which also connected with a concern and love of nature and environment. As she went through the items, Shtein also realized that each had its own story to tell.
“I fell in love with vintage garments, and started traveling to various markets in search of vintage products — mostly clothing,” she said.
“Each time I came across vintage clothing, I took my time to examine it carefully while trying to imagine what it had gone through over the years. Who bought it first? What was its real life story?” she said. “Such questions made my quest to find vintage clothes even more adventurous and fun-filled. I thought of how to preserve nature by aiding in the recycling of vintage clothing, and this drove me even further into vintage clothing collection.”
The idea of collecting and reselling vintage clothing while making the world a bit more green culminated with her recently launched e-commerce site, shpirulina.com.
The product offerings include a wide variety of tops, bottoms, dresses, robes, skirts and outerwear. Price points vary from about $20 to $100, and Shtein offers free, global shipping. Shtein has four employees to manage the operations. And aside from her web site, Shtein also has an Etsy online store — with positive reviews from shoppers. Shtein is also the exclusive model for all of the photos showcased on the site. All of the items are vintage apparel from the Seventies through to the Nineties.
Shtein’s business reflects a growing trend in online vintage apparel stores, which have gained popularity as the so-called vintage revival trend continues in popularity — especially with Millennials who crave authenticity as well as the recycling of goods. The movement also includes many mainstream retailers such as American Apparel and Farfetch to offer vintage apparel on their online shops.
“Each vintage clothing is a clear indication of unique and extinct clothing, something you won’t easily come across in this day and age,” Shtein told WWD. “I love collecting vintage clothing because it gives me a sense of appreciation of nature, pride and heritage, you can also have the privilege of owning this rare, unique and very beautifully made items if you set your mind to it.”
Currently, Shtein is not interested in outside investors — at the moment. Although she did not disclose sales, Shtein said at the onset, it was “not easy and we had a lot of problems and beginner’s mistakes, which almost caused the business to close, but I did not give up the dream to open my own successful business.” Shtein measures that success by employing four full-time workers and expanding her operations this year as well as stressing a low return rate on what she sells. Long-term, she said she would consider outside investment opportunities.
There are other challenges too, including cross-border transactions and marketing to a niche consumer on a global scale. Regarding why she models the clothing herself, Shtein said she “always wanted a boutique business that gives personal attention to clients and takes care of the details.”
“So the natural thing and the most important for me was to present the clothes on myself,” Shtein said adding that it provides personalization while also showing “how the clothing looks on the body.”