“It all comes back around.” A common phrase we hear from both fashionistas and confused nans everywhere when old trends come back in vogue.
Our sentimental attraction to nostalgia is part of human nature, and our love for vintage clothing is going nowhere.
Proving that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure is 25-year-old Surry lad Rory Westbrook, whose second-hand clothing startup True Vintage is on track to make a mint, reaching £1.9 million in revenue this year according to Evening Standard.
Founded when he was just 18 years old, True Vintage has been profitable from day one and always self-funded.
The brand stocks vintage clothing from sought-after designer brands including Tommy Hilfiger, Adidas, Ellesse, Kappa and Prada.
The True Vintage team scours eBay, international online stores and charity shops for low-priced finds and sells them at a premium on their website.
Now well known in the world of vintage, the startup collaborates with big brands such as Urban Outfitters to deliver pop-up stores and other events for retailers.
Rory has always had a love of fashion and worked in retail from the age of 16, starting in a Guildford menswear boutique.
With a keen eye for designer labels and changing trends, Rory got a taste for finding retro bargains online and from local second-hand shops while studying business administration at the University of Portsmouth back in 2014.
“I didn’t like seeing anyone in the same clothes as me. Which is why I liked rare vintage pieces. The quality was high,” Rory told Evening Standard.
One of his most memorable deals includes getting £150 for an Adidas Lake Placid Olympic sweatshirt he bagged for a fiver.
Realising the huge market for 1980s and 1990s vintage looks, he started hanging vintage T-shirts and jackets from a nail in his uni bedroom and would post pictures of them on Instagram to sell.
The orders quickly began to roll in, so he set up a basic website and bribed friends with beer to help him package the impressive amount of orders.
“The business was rapidly growing from very early on. My university bedroom was taken over and soon turned into a stock room & office and I had boxes of clothes coming in every week. It was difficult to juggle studying whilst running a company full time, but luckily I had help from friends and family,” he told Portsmouth Uni’s Alumni Association.
After graduating in 2015, he moved the fast-growing business, which was shipping around 50 orders a day, to his family home for a few months and had both his brothers helping out before taking the next big step to move to London.
Currently with a staff of 10, looking ahead, True Vintage plans to expand the team, up their accessories offering and start selling new eco-friendly clothing along with the retro garb they have become known for.
He says that the world’s renewed focus on the environment and sustainability is attracting more shoppers to buy second-hand.
Coming a long way from operating out of his university bedroom, in 2020 Rory is moving True Vintage to a new south Wimbledon warehouse, which is around three times the size of its current Mitcham base.