Every photo editorial is the sum of its parts. For our most recent Fall's Top Five: Past & Present photo shoot, each member of our team brought something vital to the shoot. Liz Baca, a Coutorture Network Partner from the website M.I.S.S. Crew, also works as a stylist and vintage supplier to some of the hottest boutiques in America. To see which of her stores she pulled clothing from for our photo shoot, just click on the image and you'll find the credits bottom left. Part of the fun of editorializing fall at the end of August, is knowing that every frock, pair of trousers, and accessory, is available for purchase right now. Thanks to Baca, that includes the vintage items--so long as you're the first the ring or stop by these amazing shops. Below, we asked Baca about her profession (which is of endless interest to us) and what it takes to provide The Goods! to so many chicsters, season after season.
How did you break into wholesaling vintage clothing and accessories?
I am a long time collector, dare I say "hoarder" of stuff. The dictionary defines a hoarder as "a person who accumulates things and hides them away for future use". In all my years of hoarding things, I never really thought I was hiding things away for future use...I just liked my things and liked finding them. About 5 years ago it became very clear to me that I was having way more fun hunting and gathering vintage finds then going to my daily job. I had so much stuff as it was but didn't want to stop getting more (I sound like a crazy lady, right?). My friends had (and still have) a high-end vintage shop in San Francisco called Ver Unica, I started out doing trade with them and eventually starting wholesaling to them. I figured there had to be more people that wanted The Goods! and there where. After a year of testing the waters, I quit my job and haven't looked back since.
We know you split your time between SF and NY, can you tell us a little bit about your bicoastal schedule?
My bicoastal schedule is hella crazy son! I hope at least one reader got my East meets West slang. Yeah, sooo, I venture out to NYC every month to bring The Goods! to my accounts. My time spent on the East side is any where from 3.5 days to weeks...I always hope for the later but based on my West Coast schedule as a stylist I sometimes have to fit in where I can get in. It makes for some very exciting and hectic months BUT I figure work hard now so I don't have to later...well, it's a nice thought at least.
How do you incorporate seasonal trends into the vintage stock you bring to stores?
My vintage accounts are trend based for the most part. Each has their own unique style but generally they are seeking the vintage version of what is currently in fashion. They'll just be stocking the real deal vs. looks inspired by an era as you find with modern clothing. Of course there are always the designer gems that are ALWAYS in fashion no matter the season or current trends. So, it's important that I keep up on what's going down the runway every season so I can work with my accounts to bring them the appropriate merchandise.
What draws you to wholesaling vintage rather than, say, becoming a brand rep?
The bottom line is I LOVE vintage clothing. Don't get me wrong, there are modern brands that do it for me but i will always be more interested in the things that inspire clothing of today. I love the idea of vintage being limited and unique. Part of it is the hunting factor too. The process as a whole is very exhilarating. I have worked with modern brands, on the retail and wholesale side and sure I can sell it but it just doesn't give me the same kind of satisfaction that vintage clothing does.
How does M.I.S.S. Crew fit in to the picture?
M.I.S.S. Crew is a labor of love! It provides an outlet that forces me to have to be in the "know", to be searching out the latest and greatest and a stage to showcase some of my skills. Gabriella of Mama Clothing, my partner in M.I.S.S., and I work hard to "bring it" for the ladies. We work around our skills and talents as well as the skills and talents of the many ladies that we have the pleasure of working with. That is the beauty of creating your own environment.
How does styling fit in to the picture?
Well it all goes hand-in-hand. Styling keeps me up on and involved in current fashion happenings, which can provide content and focus for M.I.S.S. and can also keep me in the loop as to what my vintage accounts might be looking for. Being a vintage clothing dealer provides access to unique items for my styling work and knowledge of what inspired current fashion which can provide fun content/education for M.I.S.S. and my own blog. I can also provide press and exposure to my vintage accounts by pulling items from their stores for my styling work, which can't be a bad thing. In the end it all comes full circle, each helping out the other. These are the things I love in life therefore I have chosen to make it work.
Can you tell us a little bit about how you pulled together the looks for our trend shoot?
There are so many trends every season. I loved the idea of showing the past vs. the present, right up my ally! So I picked trends that I felt had strong roots from eras gone by or would just be fun to showcase fabulous vintage pieces...like Luxe Layers, that vintage Whitng & David top is serious or that Saint Laurent Dress from Winter's Summer. That is a rare piece, the pattern is called the "Picasso Print"...so amazing.
What was your favorite piece in the shoot?
That's really a hard one. It was exciting to work with brands like Christian Louboutin...and the Saint Laurent dress...I'd have to go for favorite looks and that would have to be the vintage "Country Living" and "Boy's Club". Country Living came together like a dream for me and the Boy's Club, although so simple, is something I would totally wear and I felt really represented a strong 80's inspired menswear look. I can't just pick a piece!!!
What advice would you give people about shopping for vintage clothing?
Be patient. It is not as easy as running into the department store and grabbing a blouse or little black dress. Vintage items are unique and limited. Try things on but don't force the fit! There currently is and has never been any sort of standardization in sizing. A vintage size 10 can be a modern size 4, yes it's that crazy.
What don't people know about your profession?
That it is hard work...a true hustle. People always say that I have the best job and granted I have to agree BUT it is the best job for me. Might not be for everyone. It is long hours, early morning digs in the dark, piles and miles of modern day cast off's to find that one gem, lot's of driving, sometimes sleeping in your car, mending and repairing...breathing life back into things that have been left for dead. I call it search and rescue. it's a strange love and wonderful life and it is the life for me.