For the style obsessed, few activities are more satisfying than vintage shopping. Stepping into a vintage boutique is like walking into a time capsule filled with different textures, patterns, and dimensions. Maybe you’ll find a worn-in concert T-shirt from the ‘90s or perhaps designer heels in mint condition. You might stumble upon colorful, statement-making jewelry or a denim jacket that’s become perfectly distressed over the decades. No matter what the discoveries look like, the point is that you’re bound to make them. It’s the thrill of the hunt, and it’s what fuels vintage shoppers to continue searching for their next big piece of treasure.
Naturally, a central part of that experience is the act of going to the physical store. But with much of the world under lockdown, vintage lovers have had to turn their attention to the internet, where several online retailers are slowly but surely changing the vintage shopping landscape. Thrilling, a curated digital vintage boutique that scours the country’s best vintage shops and second hand stores for one-of-a-kind pieces, embodies this movement.
“There will always be a future with actually going to the store, having an interaction with the store owner, and being in this environment they created,” Shilla Kim-Parker, CEO of Thrilling, tells Bustle. “That magic should always be preserved and will have a long future. I do think online vintage shopping will also become more popular [and] continue to grow the total pie.”
Kim-Parker says she’s noticed that since the pandemic began, people have been looking for — perhaps surprisingly — items that are fashionable and fun, as opposed to chill and comfy.
“We very quickly pulled together working from home collections or, you know, comfortable loungewear collections, and that is just not what is of interest to folks,” she reveals. “I think everyone is looking for a little retail therapy and looking to have a bit of fun without breaking their wallet. So, they’ve actually been shopping pretty much in line with how they always shop on our site — people are continuing to buy things that make them happy and feel like a fun expression of their personality.”
Most recently, Thrilling launched its first-ever brand collaboration, teaming up with Banana Republic on a collection of vintage Banana Republic pieces sourced from second hand stores and boutiques across the United States. Shoppers can find everything from surplus pants and shirts to leather bomber jackets and chunky knits and accessories.
“It was so meaningful for Thrilling to partner with Banana Republic, a company that has this genuine relationship to the world of vintage, and go back to their roots of supporting small vintage mom-and-pop shops,” Kim-Parker shares. “Banana Republic has shown a true commitment to sustainability, and that’s incredibly important to the mission of Thrilling, which is [about] the environmental impact of the apparel industry.”
With summer on the horizon, Kim-Parker says she’s excited about one trend specifically. “We are looking forward to the retro nautical theme,” she shares. “They’re really fun to bring out — those retro whites and blues, those vintage swimsuits. That’s something we’ll hopefully be able to take advantage of this summer.”
Whether you’re searching for “retro nautical” apparel or just browsing and keeping an open mind, there are a few rules that Kim-Parker follows when vintage shopping online.
First and foremost: Know your measurements, especially waist and bust.
Next, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Vintage and second hand sellers typically love to engage with customers — even via email or chat — so don’t be shy.
And lastly, never underestimate the power of a good tailor once it's safe to visit one. “The fun is finding diamonds in the rough that, with a little love, can be brought back to life and fit you perfectly."