Vintage 2.0: An Interview with Tina Poppy, Founder of Violetville Vintage

Written by on Sunday, June 6th, 2010 with 5 comments
Did you lovelies know, that besides being a compulsive online shopper, I also purchase about 99% of my vintage…online??? And in doing so, I decided to dedicate a post to my intense obsession with purchasing vintage pieces exclusively online.
Tina of Violetville Vintage has lovingly offered to share some insight for those who would like to as well…
Extremely rare 1970s silk kaftan dress from America’s first African American couturier.
How long have you been collecting vintage?

I’ve been thrifting since high school, so, more than a decade. In high school, it was difficult to find pieces in the right size, so I’d always buy things even if they weren’t remotely my size. I figured maybe someday they’d miraculously fit, and I just couldn’t *not* buy them! I used to wear things that were way too big on me just because I liked them. I still don’t see myself as a collector though; I guess because I think of collectors as librarians or curators. I’m much more disorganized and intuitive than that – I buy things because I like them, not because I need them to complete something. It’s funny though, because I have a whole house full of vintage! I don’t live there, I just house clothes there. This doesn’t sound like the behavior of a non-collector, but, I just see it as an extension of my life. I wear vintage, I study it, I do things with it.
This amazing summer party dress dates to the early 1930s – can you believe how modern it looks? The poppy print is a huge plus for me.

What was the very first vintage piece you owned & how did you obtain it?

It’s really interesting that you ask this, because I have absolutely no idea! But, almost all my vintage pieces were thrifted in the beginning, so I’m sure whatever it was came from Value Village or Goodwill. One of my first memorable finds happened in college, when I stopped into a Salvation Army in the Los Angeles area, and they had the most amazing batch of 60s swing coats and dresses from Bullocks Wilshire, which was a very high-end department store in LA in the 50s and 60s. None of the clothes were my size, but again, I wore them anyways!
Do you have a favorite era(s) when it comes to both collecting & selling vintage clothing?

I’m in love with 30s and 40s clothing. Incredible full-length evening gowns, sheer chiffon tea dresses, rayon print dresses – these are total glamour to me. The colors they used were remarkable, and the quality is absolutely unmatched today.

What types of vintage pieces do your clients/customers favor?

People know that I have really rare vintage. People buy 80s pieces from me, too, but mostly they know I’m the person to contact if they want to experience something that’s genuinely vintage – like from the 20s through the 60s.
What minimum age does an article of clothing have to be, in order for it be considered vintage?

At least 20 years old is the typical standard for being defined as vintage. But in my brain, I’ve worked out this sort of intangible distinction between “common vintage” and “rare vintage” – common being pieces that are still easy to find like 70s and 80s, and rare being everything that’s unique and difficult to find – the early pieces, the hard-to-find designers. I specialize in the rare stuff because it’s more interesting to me, but the common stuff is oftentimes more easily wearable or more easily incorporated into your existing wardrobe.
This John Kloss one-shoulder grecian goddess gown is the epitome of 70s glamour for me.

As both a collector & seller, what is your view on consumers altering vintage pieces for a tailor-made fit?

I want people to wear vintage. So, I’m fine with hemming dresses, and I think it’s wonderful to tailor pieces to your liking and to your fit – although, vintage tends to fit better in the first place, so you often don’t need much alteration to get the perfect fit. People have always tailored and hemmed and made small adjustments to the trends. I’m also fine with re-making pieces that are damaged or otherwise unwearable, and I do acknowledge that definitions of “wearable” might vary. But, I also think there are limits to what’s acceptable in terms of “reconstructing” vintage.  I read about some 60s Chanel evening gown being remade into something totally different – that’s ridiculous! The designer who remade the dress probably thought the original style of the dress would never come back – but most styles comes back. Everything has its moment, and then about 20 years later, it has its moment again, and then in another 20 years, it has another moment when it informs current trends. So the 80s styles looked a lot like the 40s via the 60s. And, even if that style were never to return, who has the arrogance to think they can remake Chanel into something “better”?!
How influential has social media been (i.e. Twitter,  Facebook, blogs, etc.) to your business model?

Violetville is 100% online. We only open our actual doors to stylists, celebrities, or friends. So for me, social media is an absolute must. It *is* the business model. In the fashion world, blogs in particular inspire and expose so many trends that you *have* to read them if you really intend on knowing what’s going on. Most magazines seem outdated by the time they’re in print!
What advice can you give vintage newbies with regards to purchasing authentic vintage pieces online?

Most sellers now take decent photos, but it’s still hard to find sellers that know anything about fabric and fit. A good seller can look at your measurements, ask you a few questions, and tell you what type of dress will fit you well. Vintage doesn’t fit like a potato sack like most modern-day clothes do! Vintage clothing is actually meant to fit and flatter your body. Shopping from someone who can help you figure out the best fit for your individual body will help you to fall in love with vintage and will keep you feeling confident about what you wear. Fashion should enable us to look and feel as amazing as we are.
Check out Tina’s fabulush vintage store here:
Visit VV’s sale on eBay –
Excellent advice & such great vintage info Tina!! MG hearts you & your amazing store. Dahlings,  be sure to check it out <3


5 Comments on “Vintage 2.0: An Interview with Tina Poppy, Founder of Violetville Vintage”

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