Interview with Agnes Zelei of Loppis Vintage
Walking down the Weserstr in Neukölln I fell into the treasure trove that is Loppis Vintage. Having no prior intel on the place I entered with caution presuming the pieces that hung came with intimidating price tags. I was more than pleasantly surprised.
There is a danger of vintage in Berlin becoming an oversaturated market. I sat down with sartorial savant Agnes Zelei (more commonly known as Agi) to discuss why she chose to enter into the fray of selling vintage and where one draws the line at the pieces that make you smile and those that don’t. Increasingly it’s becoming apparent that accessibility within the sustainable sphere should be as easy slipping on a banana skin - although I’m not convinced this has ever actually happened. Like Berlin the city, recently opened Loppis Vintage seems unperturbed, slightly shabby, raw and unpretentious. That surely is the key to making vintage accessible… removing any intimidations. There is an element of anxiety when trying on clothes, something that the fast fashion industry has mastered - there is just too much choice to feel nervous. In smaller, more selective stores it can be unnecessarily coercive, but if any front of house makes you feel at ease its Agi.
Upon arriving for a second time to fire questions at the Loppis Vintage founder, I was met with a band about to play at Berghain, trying on Agi’s findings. Having worked for years in the music industry, Agi understands the delicate synergies between music and fashion, and if you find time to swing by the store you’ll know what I mean.
Originally from Hungary, Agi frequently travels to Budapest to source many of her pieces. Eastern Europe is turning out to be a cornerstone for upcycled and vintage clothing and we’re really into it.
Where did your love for second hand clothing begin?
It started during my university years in London, where there was a charity shop at each corner close to where I lived. This made it so much easier for me to mix and match different types of clothes on an affordable budget and avoid shopping at big fashion chain stores. I aways had a passion for hunting local vintage and own garments of clothing that were not mass produced. Sourcing clothes at small charity shops was so much fun as opposed to going to big fast fashion stores which makes me overwhelmed and nervous.
An article has been circulating the press recently that “We Don’t Need Anymore Sustainable Brands”, that argues that changing the mindsets of the larger fast fashion houses should be our sole focus. What are you thoughts on this?
Sure, that would have a millionfold bigger impact. But as a consumer, the only way to make the big brands re-think their ways is to stop buying their stuff. That’s where the small labels come in and play their part. If there are more alternatives that are - and here come 2 central aspects of Loppis’ philosophy - fashionable and affordable the easier we make it for people to turn to these offerings instead of fast fashion.
Where does vintage play a role in the current issue of sustainability?
It plays a big role in my eyes. In our home, the majority of things are vintage. Most clothes, but also the furniture, many books, the art, the deco, the kitchenware, etc.
We’re giving old things a new life and prolong the period for which it is used. A lot of the time when people consider sustainability they think about organic materials, upcycling, etc. But what’s more sustainable than keeping things in use for longer?
How do feel about the current accessibility of vintage clothing to various demographics?
I don’t see what it has to do with demographics? Almost everywhere in the world, there’s a vintage store or flea market in a town near you.
What are the current stigmas that surround the vintage clothing world?
You’ve probably heard before that some of the big vintage chains are operating under the banner of a charity when they’re undoubtedly for profit organisations.
Take us on the journey of your favourite vintage piece…
I’m going to go with my store. As in the room itself. When you’re a vintage hunter, you always want to unearth something. Something beautiful. Something no one has found before you. Something that would have been lost otherwise. When we took over the shop, it had cheap chipwood floors painted red (yuck!) and hideous wallpaper. The first thing we did upon receiving the keys was to take a peek under those floor boards. What we found was a super beautiful hardwood planks. Run down, patched, with signs of use. Lots of people would have deemed them „done“, as did the person who covered them, but to me they’re my favourite element in my shop. They give so much warmth, make it so cosy and tell the story of the building.
What do you see for the future of Loppis Vintage?
Pheww, I have JUST opened – it took me some years. At the moment I am just happy to be in this lovely neighbourhood and curious to see where it all goes.
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