By Erika Lopez
The name alone hints at the shop’s mission: to encourage the everyday wear of vintage pieces. The shop, located on State Street in the quaint East Rock neighborhood of New Haven, is easily accessible by CT Transit with a bus stop right across the street.
Remembering that the shop provided Y Fashion with clothing for our February show, I decided to take a quick bus ride to see the shop for myself and learn more about its origins.
I chatted with owner Melissa Gonzalez on one of the comfy couches in the shop on a Friday afternoon. Apart from owning Vintanthromodern, Melissa works as an art teacher at Hamden High School. Working in the afternoons after school, Melissa opens her shop doors Thursday - Sunday from 12 - 6 pm. She explained to me that opening her own shop was but a dream for many years; it was something she built up to, starting first by collecting vintage pieces and selling them online.
Eventually Melissa gained enough of an online presence to open several pop-ups in Connecticut. The pop-ups were oftentimes at flea markets and served as temporary shops to get her name out there as she looked for a more permanent location. An ever adventurous entrepreneur, Melissa told me that she even turned an old shuttle bus into a shop one summer, traveling around the state of Connecticut and venturing to music festivals.
In October 2014, Melissa opened Vintanthromodern in an area of New Haven known for its beautiful homes, delicious restaurants, and quite a bit of weekend foot-traffic, which the shop benefits greatly from. She mentions that Project Storefronts, a program that encourages the growth of local small businesses, particularly in art-related fields, supported her along the way.
Today the store carries 75% vintage and 25% new pieces. The new items come in the form of handmade local jewelry and decorative knick-knacks. Vintanthromodern sells clothing for men and women, as well as shoes, accessories, and kitchen goods. Walking around the shop, I noticed that most of the clothing was colorful and patterned. Melissa told me this was because she frequently wears these kinds of pieces and, therefore, is drawn to them. Her colorful and funky style can be explained in part by the fact that she used to teach art in elementary schools. I noticed that, unlike many of the vintage shops I am used to back home in New York City, Vintanthromodern has an average price point of $30, meaning that the clothing is affordable enough to accommodate a college student’s budget. At the same time, the majority of the vintage pieces are made in the U.S.A, so their quality is better than that of most commercial retail stores.
Melissa notes that most of the shop’s customers are Yale graduate students who live in the neighborhood, but there is also heavy foot-traffic on weekends from people who brunch at The Pantry. She believes that Yale undergraduates frequent the shop less often because it’s outside the 3-block radius that the university encourages students to stay in, out of concern for safety. In an attempt to attract undergrads, Vintanthromodern had a pop-up at Urban Outfitters for College Night, a seasonal event where stores on Broadway have discounts for Yale students. The pop-up was a collaboration with local shop Strange Ways, which is known for its clothing patches. The event was a success and Melissa hopes to find new ways of expanding her clientele list to include undergrads.
Vintanthromodern cannot be missed by anyone interested in fashion and is well-worth the trip. The pieces are one-of-a-kind and will be sure to make a statement in everyday outfit choices. For more information, please visit the store’s website at http://www.vintanthromodern.com/.