Despite the hustle for the latest streetwear brands that have just been dropped, there’re rebels who decide to go against the popular opinion by hunting for lesser-known vintage clothes instead. Here at Loopgarms, we have two individuals who tried out the less-travelled road in the fashion world.
Located in the heart of the Jalan Besar neighbourhood, Loopgarms has found its way into the millennial streetwear scene. This vintage store was founded by Isaac and FJ, whose passion for vintage streetwear began way back in their adolescent years.
From as early as their polytechnic days, Isaac and FJ started collecting vintage clothing both locally at the Salvation Army’s thrift store, and overseas at Kinji, one of the largest vintage emporiums in Harajuku, Japan.
And who can forget Ebay? Vintage clothes weren’t that sought after back then, and could come at extraordinarily cheap prices. Isaac’s favourite vintage items include sporting snapbacks, Marlboro apparels and anything from Nike.
His very first piece was this ’80s Miami Hurricane Starter Jacket. He decided that it wasn’t worth it to put it up for sale, especially when it’s a milestone piece that holds a significant amount of meaning to him. Although it’s not for sale, this piece currently hangs at the front of the store.
For FJ, her favourite items are more on the playful side, ranging from old toys (yes, Loopgarms sell vintage knick-knacks too) to full-print NASCAR T-shirts.
“But the ones that hold a soft spot in my heart are anything related to X-Men.” She pointed gleefully at the glass countertop where X-Men toys are displayed.
“Yeah! She really screams when she finds anything X-men,” teased Isaac.
Since they’re one of the only few vintage shops in Singapore, you must be wondering if it’s hard for them to continuously look for suppliers. To make up for the limited suppliers, they use a concept of buying, selling and trading.
However, you’ll require real-life appraisals from either FJ or Isaac in order to sell or trade. Several individuals have done so online, but the duo realised that deceptive angling of photographs has caused miscommunications.
On one occasion, the photos they received of a T-shirt achieved their approval. Yet when it arrived, it was barely the size of Isaac’s palm!
Once appraised in person, your item can be exchanged for cash or store credits. Opting for cash will give you roughly 30% – 40% of the appraised price, while choosing store credits can give you up to 50% – 60% of your item’s appraised price.
One of the most expensive trades that Isaac has made was the Supreme X CDG 2012 tee which cost more than S$500.
But this wasn’t the most shocking trade he has made since opening Loopgarms.
“Two months back, a couple who was about 40+ years old and their two kids came into the store, and they were quite fashionably dressed. At first, they came in and browsed the stuff here but then they started chatting with us. It turned out that they once wanted to start a vintage store in Singapore too, but they never got to start on it.”
“The most surprising thing was that a month later, they came back with two luggages full of vintage clothing that they’ve collected through their younger days. As FJ was doing the appraisals of each individual item, she (the wife) was on the brink of tears and ran out of the store, breaking down. It really brought out how much those pieces of clothing carried such heavy sentiments and memories.”
“It was one of the most heartwarming moments we’ve had here. And although not every piece passed the appraisals, the man told me to choose out of the rejected pieces, the ones that I would want and wear. And guess what? He gave them to us.”
Like the couple who sold what was most treasured to them, Isaac and FJ have gone through similar experiences since opening Loopgarms too. Even as I conversed with Isaac, FJ was closing a sale and asked the customer if she could grab a picture of it.
Turns out that it was an American varsity T-shirt that was given to her by her aunt during her stay in the States.
“Initially, it was challenging to handle parting with clothes that had sentiments attached, but there were also times when we found out we had clothes we didn’t even know we owned!”
Every business has its own difficulties; here at Loopgarms it’s more of an emotional one. Try asking FJ and Isaac about the history behind the pieces after buying them, and you may find yourself leaving the store not just with the satisfaction of retail therapy, but with a heartwarming story or two.
If you are thinking of pulling off the vintage style or missing a piece for the retro outfit you have in mind, come down and have a look!
Prices: S$20 – S$60 (excluding jackets)