ruth: Retailer profile
Posted on 2 July 2012 01:57 AM by someadmin
Staying on a bit of a theme, we currently have another vintage clothing retailer in SO:ME Space. ruth is the self-named vintage clothing label of Ruth Game, who has a passion for vintage fashion and has searched far and wide to bring you the best pieces all in one place.
Tell us a bit about ruth. What makes your label unique?
I aim to offer people trendy pieces, which they won’t find on every second girl (and her mum). I hand pick all of the things I sell with a certain kind of person in mind. Someone who’s confident in his or her own style and not afraid to wear something a bit left of centre. Because I have a design background, I select the pieces for my store as if I were designing a collection. The hand picking process is very important to me. I choose things not just for the way they look, but the way they fit in with the rest of my collection. I may spend two hours at one of the big opshops and only come out with one piece, but that’s okay because I know it is a really beautiful item that is true to my style.
I like the idea of selling vintage that people almost believe is a current piece. I didn’t realise how much current trends have been inspired by the past, and what I do is find and sell the original item that current pieces have been copied from.
Why did you start ruth?
I’m an avid treasure hunter and love clothes. I couldn’t think of anything more exciting than being able to share my finds with other like-minded people. Fashion to me is all about individuality. By buying vintage pieces, you can dress like nobody else. I guess what it all comes down to for me, is sustainable living through recycled clothing, and being individual in how you dress. I have always been involved in design and sewing, and while I can’t create my own line of clothing, finding vintage pieces that resemble my style and putting them together in a cohesive collection is the next best thing.
I’m planning to move away from strictly vintage, and begin selling just as much ‘pre-loved’ items. As a regular op shopper, I constantly come across beautiful clothes from the late 90’s, so they’re not necessarily considered vintage. Even current things – I want to start selling (for a fraction of the price). It’s amazing what you’ll find at an op shop if you’re willing to hunt. Most people aren’t, so that’s where I come in.
I love minimalism, so I guess that’s the direction I want to head in. Sometimes I think I need a few side projects – ‘ruth minimalism,’ ‘ruth vintage’ and ‘ruth pre-loved.’ I haven’t worked out in my head how to incorporate all of the styles into one store yet.
What was the inspiration for your current season?
I’m a jeans and shirt kind of girl, but in winter I throw on an oversized jumper and some worn-in leather boots. I think that translates in my store. I love things that are almost so wrong they’re right. Like something your mum would have worn in the 90’s. I’ve always been attracted to ironic fashion.
But then I have the extravagant, traditionally beautiful stuff like vintage furs and beaded silk blouses. I’ve also been meaning to try out a few combination items where I sell a vintage collared shirt underneath a fluffy, angora jumper for example. Two for the price of one is always good.
Tell us a bit about yourself. What is your background?
I’m from Perth originally, then moved all over the country, before ending up in my favourite Australian city – Melbourne.
After high school, I studied fashion design then deferred so I could travel overseas. While I was backpacking through America, Europe and Japan, I was buying vintage clothes at op shops because it was all I could afford. I built up a bit of a collection and took it back with me to Melbourne. From there, I started buying more vintage pieces with my sister, until we created our own online vintage and preloved clothing store, twocoathangers.
We worked together for two years and then I decided I wanted to head in a different direction creatively. I moved on to sell at markets by myself, under the name ‘ruth’ and my sister is still running twocoathangers.
What designers are you into at the moment?
I love owning a piece that no one else has, so I tend to shop at op shops or sew my own clothes rather than obsess over a favourite designer. I’m embarrassed to admit I hardly know any new designers. I could tell you what op shop I’m into right now??!
I love minimalism and good design though, so Kahlo, Acne, Marni and Ruby are a few designers I keep an eye on.
What are you inspired by right now?
Music inspires me. Chet Faker’s stuff is great. As well as Wintercoats, a mega-talented Melbourne guy playing a violin hooked up to a loop machine. If you can see this guy live, you should definitely jump at the chance – it’s beautiful to witness. Oscar + martin never disappoint, and AA Bondy, Andy Bull, James Vincent Mcmorrow, Grimes and Oliver Tank inspire me also. Bobby Clean makes some fine funk, and Vance Joy is a unique Melbourne duo I had the pleasure of coming across very recently. I have a lot of respect for new artists breaking into the music scene. It can be really exciting witnessing their first handful of gigs when you know their talent is going to take them places. Cheesy old records are also good when I’m in an inspirational rut! Demis Roussos does a mean cover of ‘Just don’t know what to do with myself.’
In terms of visual inspiration, RTIST in Prahran and the RMIT gallery on Swanston street always show something interesting. Melbourne-born Illustrator, Marianna Marx creates ethereal illustrations that appeal to my childlike side. The girls at Anywho.dk have impeccable taste and I also love the almost childlike style of Annie from the blog anniieemal. I don’t know if that’s the look she’s aiming for, but hers is the sort of style I imagine my pieces being perfect for.
On a different note, Mihály Csíkszentmihályi’s theory of flow is a theory of human nature I recently learnt and find so inspiring. His book, Flow: The optimal experience explains it really nicely. TED I find really inspiring too! Movies by Hayao Miyazaki are perfect for anyone who’s imagination has turned a little stale. They truly are beautiful.
In terms of icons who inspire me – I love the rockstar groupies, actresses and models from the 60’s and 70’s. Anita Pallenberg, Bianca Jagger, Veruschka, Jane Birkin, Francoise Hardy, Marianne Faithfull, Anna Karina, Anita Pallenberg and Jean Shrimpton oozed individual style. This collection of images sums it up quite well!
I could keep answering this question for a long, long time…
What was the professional highlight of your past year? What work are you most proud of?
I make and sell skirts in crazy prints, which were recently featured on culture guide website, Three Thousand. I visit that site all the time so that was a huge honour/shock. I had no idea they were going to write a piece about the skirts, so it was a very nice surprise!
It was also a thrill getting contacted by Belinda from SO:ME about buying one of my handmade skirts. That led me here, to SO:ME!
In terms of work that I’m most proud of.. That changes weekly when I come across the next incredible treasure I’ve found after searching for hours in a smelly opshop. I suppose I’m just proud that I was able to go out on my own and ‘live my dream’ of selling vintage + pre loved clothing that I love.
What advice do you have for people wanting to start their own store or label?
I can only speak about markets and online stores.. But I tell everyone – just do it! We are so lucky with the internet. It’s too easy not to try to live out your dreams of selling clothes or artwork when you have outlets like ebay or etsy! Start off small and don’t be afraid to sell your pieces cheap to begin with. It will pay off in the long run. Getting people to take notice and allowing your brand to build a strong reputation is what you should focus on first.
I started out buying vintage to wear myself, and then slowly built up a collection. From there, my friends started to take an interest in my clothes so I began selling at camberwell markets. After I returned from overseas with a bunch of vintage, my sister and I created an online vintage store called twocoathangers via eBay. That was a great platform – We would start everything at 0.99cents to attract people. I remember our first week we made $17 on something like 12 items. It was hard to part with such beautiful vintage for such a small return, but we quickly grew a following and began to make a profit.
Two years later, I decided to work on my own project and left twocoathangers in the hands of my sister. I began selling at various markets and then created a facebook page where people can buy my things online.
And finally, what does the future hold for ruth? Where are you headed next?
I’m slowly introducing vintage menswear. I currently have a few long and short sleeve shirts, bomber jackets and parkers, so we’ll see how they go. I joke about creating a menswear label ‘If I had a boyfriend.. This is what he’d wear’
ruth will be in SO:ME Space from 13 June to 29 July. You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (both at @ruthvintage).
Images by Kristyna Hessova.
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