Entrepreneur in Focus: Jasmine (DarkHorse Vintage)
by Purnima Balraju
Vintage fashion seems foreign to you? In the age of fast fashion and social media tracking the latest trends, it is easy to forget this niche little market. Which is something that Jasmine from Dark Horse Vintage aims to rectify, one customer at a time.
Walk into her shop and you get transported back to the roaring 20s or the glamorous 50s. The cotton blouses are soft. These have lasted decades, they sure are durable! The little knick knacks on the dressing tables reminds me of playing dress up. You will never know what you may find. A compact manicure set, old shoe buckles repurposed into cuffs and even DIY film cameras!
We sat down with Jasmine to find out more about her passion for vintage and her choice in running a brick-and-mortar shop:
What triggered your interest in vintage fashion?
I was a fashion student in Lasalle and got exposed to vintage scene during my time in the UK. Fashion is about looking back, it comes in a cycle. We were encouraged to look at clothings in vintage shops. That is how I started - my first scarf, bags and many many bags later, here I am!
Who is your fashion inspiration?
It used to be modern designers when I was a student. But now it has changed to iconic individuals in the vintage fashion scene. Paula (@pupupaula) from Indonesia, Stella May and Odara from Singapore. Other than that I follow vintage blogs from UK and US like Vintage At Heart and Diary of a Vintage Girl.
Name one fashion item/beauty item you cannot live without.
Lipstick! When it comes to dressing vintage, you have to go all out. A pop of colour is what you need, no need for anything major. The brighter the better!
For a fashion item, I would say the belt. Vintage comes in one size and in one piece. A belt helps to keep it together and adds some style to it.
Complete this sentence: Vintage fashion is …
Not for the faint-hearted! Firstly, you never know what you can find. And it is different - you need to get used to the looks when you are decked out all in vintage.
How did the name ‘DarkHorse Vintage’ come about?
This name has a personal meaning for me. Dark horse is the underdog and that is how vintage is: you will never know what you will find.
I have always wanted to do something different and vintage is that for me. It is an achievement I can call my own. Catering to this niche market.
Tell our readers one thing that they do not know about DarkHorse Vintage.
A lot of the things in the store are my own handmedowns. The window grill and dressing table belongs to my Grandmother’s house. A lot of the decorations are my family ‘heirlooms’.
Why did you choose to start a physical store instead of a blogshop?
I am a bit ‘opposite’.
I was drawn into doing things differently. So I started small with pop-up shops in 2012. I did that for two years then placed my items in other people’s stores and finally I moved here, in Arab Street!
Where is your go-to source for vintage apparel and items for your shop?
It can be difficult to decide if the piece is mine or to sell!
We source in US and UK. In UK, I know where to shop as well as the suppliers to reach out to. In Singapore, I approach collectors. We have a range of cheongsams and baju kebayas taken out during the festival season.
Apart from that we upcycle vintage items. We make candles out of old tea cups. This is the local element to vintage.
What are some tips you could give to beginners on how to wear vintage without looking like their Grandmas?
The fitting is important. You might have to take it in or add a belt. If the skirt is too long, put on a pair of wedges.
How did you overcome the challenges of starting your business?
From a pop-up to a shop, the challenges are much different. In terms of commitment, it is higher. As a full fledged shop there are legal issues I have to take care of and more paperwork to do. Whereas for a pop-up I only have to be around during a fixed and short period of time.
A good part of it is that I am now immersed into vintage fashion. From dressing the part, it is now a part of my life.
What is in the pipelines for you and your brand?
I would like to do the perfect victory roll. =)
The website is in progress right now. The soft launch for it will be happening during the anniversary party of the shop! Apart from that, developing the vintage community in Singapore through teaser Lindy Hop classes as well as expand the shop through consignments again.
Thanks Jasmine for taking the time to induct us into the world of vintage fashion. Got you hooked? Join in the celebration of DarkHorse Vintage’s One Year Anniversary this weekend! Get in touch with her the old-school way - visit her shop at 31 Arab Street.