Souren Ohanian (pronounce like to “soar” over a mountain), owner of Chance Vintage on Ventura Blvd in Studio City, California, studied vintage shopping in Japan. Yes you can study the “art of vintage”. And Souren sat down with me one afternoon to reveal some secrets and tips he aquired during his time in Japan. You see it turns out people in Japan love American Vintage clothing so much that it has become a multi billion dollar industry that brings in more money in sales than new clothing.
Vintage fashion is super popular now and #secondhandseptember is well on it's way, which makes it a great time to know about all things vintage.
Vintage shop in Japan.
FLASHANISTA: WHAT DID YOU LEARN WHILE INTERNING AT ONE OF JAPAN’S LEADING VINTAGE CLOTHING STORES?
CV: I interned at their sorting facility in Sakai, Osaka, for a month and learned about the flow of their domestic used clothing. At the sorting facility I was exposed to their grading and sorting system where they decide which clothes make it to their stores and which factors affect their decision making process.
FLASHANISTA: HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHAT YOU WILL CARRY IN YOUR STORE?
CV: My internship in Japan taught me the proper mixture of different types of clothing that an intriguing and tasteful vintage clothing store is suppose to have, along with the specific price margins the store should be at. How I decide what to put I in my store is simply based off of what my own ideology of current trends is, and the type of clothes people are looking to find at the time. I keep my eyes and ears always open to stay way ahead of the trend.
FLASHANISTA: WHERE DO YOU GET THE CLOTHING YOU SELL AT CHANCE VINTAGE FROM?
CV: I source my clothing from secondhand clothing wholesalers who are supplied by the post-sale merchandise from Goodwill, Salvation Army, and other thrift stores.
FLASHANISTA: I’M SO IMPRESSED BY THE VARIETY AND QUALITY OF THE VINTAGE CLOTHING YOU CARRY, AND CAN’T BELIEVE THAT IT WASN’T SNATCHED UP BY SOMEONE WHEN IT WAS AT GOODWILL OR SALVATION ARMY.
CV: Thank you. I know, it’s really thrilling to find these pieces of clothing and give them another chance to be seen by the world.
FLASHANISTA: WHY DID YOU NAME YOUR POP-UP VINTAGE STORE CHANCE VINTAGE?
CV: Simply: because I strongly believe in chances. Whether it is the first, second, or third one, chances just play a big role in my life as far as personal appeal goes. But the reason why I named my company “chance” is because I want to make people conscious of the word and it's meaning, and aware of its relation to the used clothing industry, because billions of pounds of clothes end up in landfills and pollute the earth while my store offers the clothes, which did not end up in landfills a CHANCE to be worn again, to be a part of the entire cycle again it was once part of, but also to give the desired customer a CHANCE to be eco-friendly, make the world a better place by purchasing secondhand clothing. The word "chance" to me has a lot of versatility as far as perspective and scenario goes. My emblem is a pair of dice that show "7" (which is a winning pair) because every time you roll them you get a different outcome, but if you don't take your chances you will never get any.
We are so lucky to have true American Vintage clothing right in our own “backyard”. Go find some! If you have the space maybe you can even start a vintage collection that will only grow in value over the years, just like fine art or wine.
Change Vintage, originally a pop up store when I interviewed Souren two years ago, continues to thrive even during the pandemic, with a loyal following on Instagram and around the world now. Find Souren @chancevintage and at www.chancevintage.us
A dress from the 1990's.
50 year old Levi denim jeans