By Juan Lerma
Originally printed in BLEEP Magazine
Neiman Marcus, The Dallas Cowboys, Texas State Fair, all these things are unique to Dallas. When shopping for vintage clothing, New York, L.A., or even Austin, TX come to mind, not Dallas. However, since its conception in 1994, Ken Weber and Greg Kelly are changing Dallas’ vintage shopping scene with their hidden gem of a boutique, aptly named, Vintage Martini. “The best in fashion from yesterday and today” is the business motto, and Vintage Martini is definitely following suit. From designer and vintage items dating back as far as the Victorian Era, authentic 1920’s flapper dresses, and Dior’s “New Look” of the 1950’s, to 70’s era Pucci prints and even 80’s tastic Gaultier and Lacroix runway pieces. It’s enough to send this fashion stylist into a whirlwind of Rachel “Zoe-isms”… Oh my god! I die! sickening!… you get the picture. Here, we get to know Ken and Greg, as well as get a sneak peek into the amazing garments available at Vintage Martini.
When did Vintage Martini go from a thought to a store, what’s the story there?
Vintage Martini grew over the years from selling at flea markets, to specialized vintage clothing shows. We then started selling online through a tiny auction website called Etsy. At that time there were approximately 35 pages of vintage clothing. Today there are at least 5,000 pages of vintage clothing. Next came Vintage Martini the online store and finally the last step was opening a store front. Unfortunately the timing wasn’t great. We opened December, 2007, which is the exact month they say the recession started. But, we made it and we are moving forward.
We are very fortunate, most of them find us. We’ve gotten great press, so the word has really spread. Since we specialize in both vintage and newer designer, the closets we’re invited to can be amazing. We’re invited over and they say, pull what you think you can sell. One house we visited had two dry cleaner conveyer belts in the closet. It was amazing!
It is obvious that quality is a very important factor when selecting garments to sell in your store, what are some of the standards you adhere to for the selection process?
We want our customer to be able to wear what they buy that day. So everything is cleaned, repaired and ready to be worn. I never want anyone to have to worry about if there is damage on what they are interested in purchasing. Many stores don’t care about quality, just quantity.
With such an impressively curated collection of vintage and designer items, Vintage Martini could very well have a New York of Los Angeles outpost. Why Dallas?
Vintage & resale stores are tripping over themselves in those cities. Dallas is just as fabulous and I don’t have the competition.
You are not completely removed from the New York and L.A. fashion scene, can you tell us about your celebrity clientele?
I don’t want to name drop and I’m sure many of my clients don’t want their secret out. But, between the vintage clothing shows and our website, the fashionistas have found us. People are searching for fabulous vintage and rare designer items to wear to their parties and functions. It’s no longer about wearing the newest off the runway, but what “fabulousness” you can find that will surprise everyone and get them asking “Who are you wearing?” The fashion designers also flock to vintage for inspiration. We’ve sold to just about every major designer and fashion house in the U.S. and Europe. I will say, two of my most exciting sales were to Christian LaCroix and Barbara Streisand.
What inspires you?
History. I know that doesn’t sound exciting, but the history of fashion is amazing. Everything today can be traced to an older period of history. To find couture from the masters like Dior, Balenciaga, Vionnet, etc. is the most exciting thing. To see these pieces in person…it’s incredibly inspirational and keeps us in this business.
Tell us where we can find Vintage Martini, can we shop online?
You are more than welcome to visit the store in Historic Downtown Carrollton, Texas which is located just outside of Dallas. Or, you can shop from our store online at www.vintagemartini.com
Photographer- Wade Livingston
Artistic Direction- Juan Lerma and Jerrad Trahan
Stylist and Writer- Juan Lerma for Amrel Styling Company
Makeup Artist- Jerrad Trahan
Hair Stylist- Jenny Myers for L’Oreal Professional
Lailani Meekel (The Dragonfly Agency)
Karl Drexel (The Dragonfly Agency)
Cheryl Jones (Campbell Agency)
Fashion Assistant- Elissa Stern