I Asked 3 Women How Selling Vintage on Instagram Became a Full-Time Career

I've had a long-term love affair with vintage, starting as a teen in flea markets right up to the accounts I follow on Instagram today. That's right: Instagram has become a major tool for selling, sourcing and buying vintage items—and for good reason. In general, we find that fashion-aware people are tired of looking the same as each other, and in addition, people want to afford designer brands. Vintage ticks each of these boxes, and using the visual tools of Instagram to share it seems like a perfect match. But curating a feed, sourcing vintage pieces and building a digital community isn't easy to do. However, many sellers do it all on their own. I asked Subrina Heyink, Ariane de Béchad and Diane Kari—all founders of their own digital vintage boutiques—how they've built a career selling vintage, who influences them and how Instagram is key to their success.

Subrina Heyink of Subrina Heyink Vintage

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Subrina Heyink

How did you end up with a career in vintage?

I started selling vintage to get rid of some of my personal items. It took shape over the months when I noticed that people loved my curation. It also helped that I loved hunting the items down.

Where do you find your pieces?

I don't think any vintage seller gives up this secret.

How has Instagram affected your business?

Instagram unearthed the mystery of starting your own fashion business. A few years ago, I wanted to make my own clothes and ended up backing out because the PR/marketing costs were so high and I didn't even know who would want my garments since I didn't even have an IG account at the time. Instagram has taught me so much about curating, merchandising and holding your customer's attention long enough to get your message across.

Why is vintage suddenly so popular again?

I want to believe that it has solely to do with the rising conversations about the true cost of fast fashion, clothing waste and global warming. Instagram has allowed people who wouldn't otherwise have conversations about how their clothing purchases affect those who make them. Another large part is that buying vintage affords exclusivity. You'd be hard-pressed to see someone else walking down the street in the same vintage dress as you. And lastly, heritage brands like Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Manolo Blahnik et al. have always been inaccessible to the average person. But with Instagram, these brands have become more attainable because of celebrities and influencers. People want to wear what they're wearing, and buying vintage allows them that opportunity.

What are your favourite vintage pieces?

I have these velvet-and-leather cutout Gucci kitten heels that I bought 18 months ago for £23. When I first bought them, I didn't wear them as much because my friends called them granny heels, but I think they are so cute and comfortable. I had always wanted shoes like that but could never find them in my size, so I held onto them. This season, I saw some designers make the exact same ones in solid colours, and now every time I wear them, I get compliments.

Who do you follow on Instagram for inspiration?

I currently do not have a personal Instagram. I do, however, look at Vogue Runway Archives daily before bed for inspiration on styling and what to keep an eye out for. It mostly makes me weep that I wasn't an adult in the '90s. The stuff from Prada, Alaïa, Calvin Klein and Ferre in that era was to die for.

Who are your favourite Instagram accounts for vintage?

I love Los Feliz from Spain for the coolest rare vintage pieces. Nadia, who owns the shop, has amazing prices, and her collections are so well curated. I love Passport Vintage in Austin for the best vintage jeans.

How do you curate your feed to ensure pieces look best?

I gather images daily from Tumblr/Pinterest and style/shoot my clothes in ways that agree with those images. I do not have a style—it changes every few months because I get bored with the same look.

What are your favourite cities to shop for vintage?

Miami and Paris in the summer. There is also a killer thrift store in the Bronx that I love.

Ariane de Béchade of Imparfaite

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Ariane de Béchade

How did you end up with a career in vintage?

I was working at Lanvin as a product manager on jewellery and small accessories for five years. Vintage is a huge source of inspiration in fashion houses, so I was constantly looking for new vintage treasures in my favourite shops. Camille [Imparfaite's co-founder] has more of a business background—she was working for L'Oréal in sales and marketing for different brands.

I was already wearing a lot of vintage, and Camille was sick of seeing me with great and unique clothes I had found for nothing. We realised that hunting in thrift shops takes time and dedication to spot the right item amongst tons of clothes. The idea with Imparfaite was to make vintage available online to everyone with a beautiful selection, enhanced by cool monthly lookbooks and an easy-to-navigate website.

Where do you find your pieces?

Imparfaite is a platform where our network of professional vintage resellers can register their best items. Our team of stylists makes sure each piece is in great condition and that everything is always on top of the trend. We add tons of new pieces every day, each of them carefully reviewed and selected.

How has Instagram affected your business?

Instagram is an important part of our business because it created a real community for us. We communicate a lot on Instagram on new pieces, new collabs and new selections. This is also a privileged place to interact with our clients; they encourage us a lot but also give us feedback, suggestions and critiques. We really feel energised by them!

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Why is vintage suddenly so popular again?

Women are looking for uniqueness and quality. I think we are getting sick of being dressed the same and sick of bad quality that never lasts. We also truly think that women are looking for emotions even when they buy clothes. Vintage reminds them of the clothes worn by their own mothers in their childhood. We all have a beloved item that we stole from our mother or our grandmothers; a dress or a jacket that still smells like their perfume. These items resonate with what we are—our history.

What are your favourite vintage pieces?

Our favourite vintages pieces of the moment are the Austrian cotton blouses, flower dresses, and, of course, Levi's 501s.

Who do you follow on Instagram for inspiration?

@inesmelia, @luciacuesta_, @emlabowe, @juliettelabelle,@breez_lance, @alwaysjudging and @sailorvenusdemilo.

Who are your favourite Instagram accounts for vintage?

We love @80s_90s_00s for the movie inspirations and @janebirkindaily because her style is timeless.

How do you curate your feed to ensure pieces look best?

Our Instagram is for inspirations, collabs with vintage lovers and monthly selections. We choose images that best represent our vintage one-of-a-kinds available on our website.

What are your favourite cities to shop for vintage?

All around France—especially flea markets from small French cities.

Diane Kari of Fripouilla Vintage

Photo:

Photo: Diane Kari

How did you end up with a career in vintage?

Since I was a teen I've loved going to thrift shops and charity shops. I have never been a huge fan of fast fashion and prefer to find a unique piece than a top that 10,000 other girls are wearing! On my personal account, @dianekari, so many people were asking me where my clothes came from and almost every time I answered, "Sorry, it's vintage." So last summer, I had the idea to do what I was already doing for myself for the others, and it worked.

Where do you find your pieces?

Everywhere! Some pieces come from my personal closet, but it's an everyday job. I go [into a] charity shop every time I see one.

How has Instagram affected your business?

Instagram is so important for my business. Everything is happening here and now. People are coming from all around the world. It's amazing. I ship everywhere. Sometimes it feels like I'm travelling.

Why is vintage suddenly so popular again?

Everybody asks me this question and I still can't answer since I've been a huge vintage lover for a long time. Fast fashion is probably one of the biggest reasons (and a good one).

What are your favourite vintage pieces?

Jeans, because it's so hard to find the perfect vintage jean that is also your size. And printed shirts, definitely.

Who do you follow on Instagram for inspiration?

@alyssainthecity, @nycbambi, @maria_bernard, @lamialand, @sailorvenusdimilo and @fhlurs.

Who are your favourite Instagram accounts for vintage?

@courtyard_la, @lesfleurstudio and @losfelizshop.

How do you curate your feed to ensure pieces look best?

I don't think about this; I just do it as I want it. Sometimes it looks better and sometimes I think the feed is not really good. I still have to work on this Instagram world.

What are your favourite cities to shop for vintage?

New York, London and Copenhagen.

If you're trying on vintage or thinking of buying a piece, then join our shopping community on Facebook and we'll help you decide what to buy.