The first time I went into Jim Smiley’s Vintage Boutique I started flipping through a rack of beautiful 50′s ball gowns. From a nearby desk I heard a polite voice say “please handle the dresses by the hanger”. I guess I heard what he said but it didn’t really sink in so I kept flipping. A moment later a gentleman (Jim Smiley) came over and explained that the dresses were very fragile and he would appreciate if I handled the dresses by the hanger. Of course I was completely embarrassed and a little put-off but I quickly realized that he wasn’t saying this to be pretentious or precious but because he truly respected and cared for his vintage collection.
The more I thought about this later the more I realized what a breathe of fresh air Jim brings to retail. When was the last time you were in Saks and you got the feeling the salesperson really respected the work that went into making the piece and its ultimate historical importance. It sounds weird, but tomorrows fashion history books will be filled with the work of todays Prada and Armani.
Though Jim’s work must be difficult, I think it must also be a bit romantic – hunting through musty old attics for forgotten couture, hearing the stories about the people that owned the items originally and then ( hopefully) selling them to people that will care for them into the future.
Jim specializes in women’s but is growing his mens offering (the cufflinks are a sight). Of course not all the items are hands off, so If you are in or plan to visit New York and love high-quality vintage I recommend a visit.