By Rachel Moulden for Digital First Media
Emily Schwartz loved to experiment with fashion while growing up in Ferndale and throughout her time at Oakland University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in cinema studies and a master’s in English.
“Hollywood was often a dictator of fashion during the 20th century, just as it is today,” Schwartz says.
Her affection for vintage clothing prompted her to start a vintage fashion blog, Livin’ Vintage, which morphed into a shop of the same name in 2008. At first it was a fun side hustle, but she took it full-time in 2012. The shop is primarily online, but it also pops up frequently throughout the Metro Detroit area.
Most of the clothes Schwartz offers are made in the United States, and she sells a variety of vintage items including patterns, prints, unique designs and jewelry. Her pieces date from the 1900s through the 1980s.
“Materials from back then are an exceptional quality. That’s what makes vintage a great alternative to the fast fashion of today,” Schwartz says. Her best-selling items are period costumes and everyday basics.
In the physical world, Schwartz also created the Ferndale Vintage Fashion Market, now in its sixth year. This annual pop-up event, started in 2013, will be May 9-12 at the Rust Belt Market in Ferndale. This year’s show features 20 vendors from throughout the Midwest, providing some of the best vintage apparel in the Metro Detroit area.
Schwarz says she saw a lack of vintage shops in the area and designed the Ferndale Vintage Fashion Market to help online shopkeepers physically connect with customers.
“People come to the market and express to me that they’re so happy that they come,” Schwartz says. “I’m really passionate about vintage and secondhand shops and the works they do to help reduce the carbon footprint. I want to help people to get to know about vintage and break down stigma surrounding it.”
When it comes to shopping for vintage fashion Schwartz says many vintage clothes don’t have a lot of hanger appeal because of their close fit, so it’s best to try them on first. She recommends that if you want to become a serious collector you should build good relationship with a seamstress.
She has other advice, too.
“It’s important to not put stress on fabric, and to use padded hangers for extra support at the top when hanging items,” Schwartz says. “When in doubt about washing, dry cleaning is best.”
Typically, the more expensive vintage pieces are couture, designer and items from the 1940s and earlier, because they are hard to find. Slightly damaged pieces will be less expensive, but will need repair. Many of these cheaper items can be purchased through online sales on Instagram (Instasales) and physical vintage shops. Demand for items that mirror what’s current on fashion runways can make certain items rare, and could raise prices.
The vintage trends for spring and summer include bohemian, ’80s and ’90s styles, Schwarz says.
“I’m loving the return of the barely-there strappy sandals that were so popular in the ’90s — think Carrie Bradshaw,” she says, referring to the lead character in HBO’s “Sex and the City.”
Additionally, neons colors, anything yellow and crochet are trending now — all of which tend to be easy finds when vintage shopping.
For vintage fashion newbies, Schwartz recommends looking for vintage sunglasses and straw hats and bags.
“I always recommend starting with accessories when someone is looking to get into the vintage/secondhand fashion scene,” she says. “They don’t have size limitations that many people encounter when shopping for vintage clothing and are easier to incorporate into the modern wardrobe.”
• The Ferndale Vintage Fashion Market will be May 9-12 at the Rust Belt Market, 22801 Woodward Ave, Ferndale. For more information, visit facebook.com/FerndaleVintageFashionMarket, or visit Schwartz’s shop at facebook.com/livinvintage.