How To Run A Vintage Clothing Store

Perth’s Bluebird Vintage is one of 50 venues handpicked by Ray-Ban to be part of their Rare Prints/Rare Places initiative, a unique concept they developed to help their customer discover their city’s best bars, shops and events to celebrate their new range of Rare Print Ray-Bans.

The boutique has been open for a little over six months, and has already firmly made it’s mark within the city’s premiere shopping destinations. The ‘vintage’ trend has been around for as long as most of us can remember at this point, but the hunger for vintage wasn’t always satiated. Specialty stores on the West Coast were few & far between, until recently.

Owners, Deborah Dickson and her partner Steven Price (a librarian) have been collecting for a lot longer than the six months that the store has been open- over a decade in fact! They had always wanted to open their own store, and finally this year their dream was realised. The result is a beautiful boutique full of finds from the 1940s to 90s ranging from fashion, accessories, furniture, home decor and collectibles.

Dickson says she can’t really pinpoint a moment when her love for vintage started. “I suppose if you’re fairly creative in any sort of aspect, you generally like things to be a little bit different- like the whole ‘one-off’ thing- being the only kid on the block with your anodized canisters or something. My partner and I are both fine arts graduates so we generally look to found objects and interesting items that you might not be able to find in mainstream stores.”

The name ‘Bluebird Vintage’ actually comes from a couple of things, as Dickson explains, “Mainly childhood whimsy items which are signified by the bluebird. It’s also like a nautical tattoo that sailors would get- if they would travel a long way to find things. So it signifies going around the world and finding various things that we’ve collected. We always regard it as like a little part of our world that people can come through and buy things from- like our house, but you can buy things from it!”

The store can be found in Perth’s Wembley area. It isn’t yet described as a ‘hub’ more of an up and coming area. Dickson says “it’s nice to be in an area that’s not so known for being really cool and hip. It’s a little tucked away so people have to come and find us. It also means that we get a lot of different demographics, we get a lot of older people as well as the cool kids.”

Bluebird Vintage tries to stay away from following current trends in vintage, rather stocking what they love and are passionate for. The beautiful vintage items are scoured from anywhere and everywhere- the couple’s travels, their local market or people’s private estates to name a few. Due to the size of the store, they are very selective with what makes the cut- “Even with clothing we get, we don’t have a huge amount but we try to make it all very remarkable or interesting.”

As well as the usual suspects that you may expect to find at a vintage store – clothes, homewares, the pair also have some weird and wonderful things in their collection. “It’s full of strange stuff. We’re a little bit freaky, with our taste. But not in a bad way (laughs). Steve thinks I’ve ‘girlied’ the shop up and he sources a lot of stuff, so has his own stamp with the taxidermy and the weird boys things”. Generally though, the pair has a similar aesthetic sensibility when it comes to their love of vintage. Dickson’s favourite vintage items include old Lucite handbags, bakelite items, black lady lamps and retro clocks. But she says that you can’t go past finding a vintage clothing item that is just the perfect size for you- “sometimes that can be a magic moment”.

Dickson notes a huge revival currently in 50s-70s décor and I wonder if it may be an effect of a certain television show… “Mad Men’s influence is insane”, says Dickson, “The amount of people that come in and say “I want to be like January Jones or Christina Hendricks!”, “Do you have a dress like she was wearing on last night’s episode?””

With the vintage trend being everywhere and so ‘now’, it may be considered a passing fad by some but Bluebird Vintage have a different take on it, “Yes it is huge at the moment. I know in Sydney and Melbourne and other big cities, it’s been happening for a while and we do wonder if the bubble is going to burst- but I think that’s mainly with regards to clothing. There are all sorts of items that people will be collecting, using and decorating with for many years to come.”

Deb explains that the young people that are into vintage clothes at the moment may be something that passes because it’s fashionable, “When young people buy vintage clothing, it’s mainly appropriating what the fashion is at the moment. But with a lot of more dedicated vintage followers, they will always buy things with certain labels or certain styles.

“It’s also really good because recycling is really important at the moment. When you buy a dress these days it is $300 anyway so it’s much nicer to get an old Chanel gown from the 50s that’s really hard to source and has had provenance and history. It’s not just fashion.”

Located on 288 Cambridge Street in Wembley, WA. Open from Tuesday to Saturday, 10am – 5.30pm.

You could win the Ray-Ban Rare Prints artwork from the venue by just tweeting about Bluebird Vintage to #raybanrare.