(This article first appeared in the November 8, 2017 issue of The Independent Newspaper)
More than just something to wear, vintage clothing has the power to take us back in time. Every decade is defined by a fashion trend and nowadays vintage is the new vogue.
No one knows that more than Houston native Elizabeth Sweigart. In 2013, and at only 23 years old, Sweigart opened up The Times Vintage in Greenport, a store specializing in everything vintage.
After spending five years in New York City, Sweigart migrated to the North Fork needing a change. “Somehow Greenport seemed doable for me — it wasn’t the Hamptons, it wasn’t Shelter Island, it was cute and quaint but not too cookie cutter,” Sweigart described.
Her admiration for vintage clothing began when she was young, frequenting garage sales with her mother and observing her grandmother’s impeccable seamstress skills. “I used to get into my grandmother’s closet all the time,” Sweigart reminisced. “She had a really funky pair of yellow wooden shoes with a crazy cut-out heel that I loved prancing around in.” Now, her own closet is uniquely comprised of 90 percent second-hand clothing. Except the shoes, of course, “simply because the old ones wear out too fast.”
The store’s name honors the property’s newsworthy roots — the original tenant was The Suffolk Times.
“It seemed so fitting for a vintage shop to house things of the past in a place that previously chronicled events in time,” said Sweigart.
In the past four years, thousands of items have been sorted through. People tend to bring in cherished items so that others can make use of them. Best sellers are the women’s clothing, jewelry, and vinyl records. What you won’t find in the shop are industrial items, linens, china, or anything decrepit.
Price is negotiated based on the sellers’ needs and the resale value in shop. “It gets tricky and honestly that’s my least favorite part of the job. I’m learning as I go — and boy there is a lot to learn! Which is why my job is never boring!”
Sweigart still remembers her favorite piece that was sold. “A ’60s Marimekko black and white three-piece suitcase set as seen in ‘Slums of Beverly Hills.'” The backstories are what draws interest in reselling an item and the interesting people that once owned them. As for the Who’s Who of who’s wearing these pieces, you can spot comedian Louis CK in the store from time to time, and recently rocking store-bought ties on the red carpet were Jake Gyllenhaal and Sam Rockwell.
Sweigart enjoys the likeness of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, her idea of the quintessential role model of both gentle beauty and hard-working independence. The Times Vintage is a time capsule of yesterday with a promising leading role in tomorrow.
The Times Vintage is open year-round, Friday through Monday from 11 AM to 6 PM, but customers can schedule private appointments Tuesdays and Wednesdays. On December 1, they will be collaborating with First & South for the annual Prohibition Party — spend $20 or more at the store and receive a free drink ticket. Also look for The Times Vintage on December 9 at Borghese Vineyards as part of artist Kara Hoblin’s Christmas Market.
Visit the store at 429 Main Street in Greenport. Call 631-477-6455, go to http://www.timesvintage.com, or follow @TheTimesVintage.