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Reviving Vintage

by Erica MacDonald

Photo courtesy of Boston Magazine

Just a hop, skip and a short trip over the bridge into Allston lies Vivant Vintage, a trendy shop that combines the greatest fashion hits of the past decades with what’s walking the runway today. The store supplies its own tagline in sloping white script on its facade: “Vivant Vintage, Home of the Traveling Spectacular.” The shop is quite a spectacle, indeed. Upon entering the store, shoppers are greeted with a wild assortment of knickknacks and carefully selected clothing pieces. To the immediate right, there’s shelves of vintage cameras that serve as the perfect addition for any photographer or collector in your life. To the left, there’s a bountiful selection of vinyl, prime for the perusal of music lovers. The real gem of Vivant Vintage is, of course, the clothing, which dominates the layout of the store from the main floor to the back room and every nook in between.

Vivant is no thrift shop, nor is it consignment. The distinction exists in the acquisition, presentation and sale of the items. The owners of the shop travel the country to personally scout, select and purchase vintage items for resale in the shop, meaning that every item in the shop is intentional, unlike larger second-hand stores like the Goodwill or Salvation Army. Vivant’s stock has traveled far and met specific standards to appear in the little Allston shop. The result of this rigorous process is a much finer, curated selection of clothing.

This, of course, is most vintage connoisseurs' dream. Rather than rifling through many questionable, low quality items in the hopes of at least one score, shoppers at Vivant are almost guaranteed a good find within minutes of browsing. Not to mention, for the many germaphobes and experienced thrifters out there, the odds of suspicious stains and creepy crawlers in the clothes is drastically lowered. Now, for the convenience of curation and often brand-name clothing, most vintage shops impose a massive upcharge. In New York City or Los Angeles, vintage t-shirts can be in the $50 range, and in some cases, up to three times that price.

Vivant, unlike many of its metropolitan competitors, has very reasonable pricing. It’s not

thrift-store low, but it’s not boutique high. The vintage shop strikes a welcome sweet spot where you feel as though you are often getting a deal, or at least paying close to the value of what you’re buying. Pricier items are inevitable, based on the material (leather, intricate beading, etc.), the brand (i.e. Nike or Levi’s) and the desirability of the piece. For the most part, vintage shoppers should be satisfied. Although the shop rarely sees luxury goods, one employee has seen the occasional designer clothing item make its way into the store, so keep your eyes out!

Much of the charm of Vivant Vintage stems from the wearability and unquestionable “cool” factor of its stock. The owners clearly have their finger on the fashion pulse of what trends are being revived. The silky slip dress, popularized in the ’90s, has made a strong comeback in the

past year or two, and that is reflected by Vivant’s racks. Leather jackets, a vintage staple, line the back room. There’s a rack dedicated to vintage sweatshirts, sporting college logos and some of the biggest sportswear houses of the ’80s, which still dominate current streetwear (e.g.

Champion). From biker tees to velvet gowns, Vivant has it all, and in a surprisingly inclusive range of styles and sizes. The shop is also fairly gender-neutral; there is no “women’s” or “men’s” sections. Your ideal pair of mom jeans might be some dad’s jeans—find your fit and go for it. The shop also caters to trendy accessories, including under-sized sunglasses and over-sized earrings. Happy shopping!

Also, Vivant Vintage also does some special events, including haircuts, karaoke and trivia. To keep up, check out their instagram page @vivantvintage.

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