Thursday, March 23, 2006

Jim Smiley Vintage Clothing Boutique

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.

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10 comments

  1. Anonymous

    March 23, 2006 at 11:34 am

    Thank goodness for Jim Smiley and his respect to vintage clothing. Consumers and most stores never appreciate clothing as they should. I once was at Barney’s and witnessed a $5,000 Yohji Yamamoto dress clinging for its life on a clip hanger and fliped up side down on a rack! I was appauled at the lack of attention on the part of the store and its employees. Its sad that people do not care anymore about beautiful things and treating it like its H & M.
    I hope Mr. Smiley tells everyone to handle the clothing properly hopefully the world will catch on! Thank you for the posting, cant wait to visit the shop!

  2. Anonymous

    March 23, 2006 at 4:24 pm

    I had a similar experience. Back when I was a wee teen, I went to this vintage shop where they had signs everywhere asking customers to handle the clothes by the hangers instead of tugging on the garments. It was a new concept to me but I complied. Ever since, whether I am in a vintage shop or not, I handle the clothes by the hangers. I keep childishly waiting for someone to come up and thank me for treating the clothes w/ respect. :-) No one ever has!

  3. p

    March 23, 2006 at 7:29 pm

    I think tomorrow’s fashion history books will be filled not only with the work of today’s Prada and Armani but mostly with H&M, Gap and Banana Republic. First because those brands copy collections from runways (and that’s a huge trend and a huge difference, that has never happened before and it means end of classic tailoring). And I’ve read a lot of fashion history books, and what you can read in most of them is what was popular in certain periods.
    But it doesn’t change my point of view – I love vintage stores.
    Yet I cannot help but I’m amazed by the abilities of high street stores (Zara, H&M) to copy and sell current trends by such prices.

  4. EmpressPenny

    March 24, 2006 at 8:13 am

    Love Jim Smiley and he loves his “treasures”. Years ago I had to make 10 visits to his shop to “wear him down” to allow me to purchase a 20′s beaded dress. Until I finally “proved” to him that I would love and care for it appropriately, the money I offered didn’t matter. We’ve been friends ever since and I travel from Florida to New York whenever I can just to see him, and his treasures!

  5. VintageGent

    March 24, 2006 at 5:32 pm

    I am pleased to see Jim Smiley mentioned. Some (okay…many!) of the vintage he has to offer truly makes one swoon, and he is a great businessman to boot.

  6. Camille

    March 25, 2006 at 2:57 am

    this looks like the boutiques on newbury st, boston!

  7. Rui

    March 25, 2006 at 4:15 pm

    newbury st boston, i beg to differ…

  8. mariana

    July 3, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    I so love vintage outfits! where is this store? =)

  9. The Blasphemous Fiendess

    November 1, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    I love the look of this space. I could live there.

  10. Resume Writing Service

    August 7, 2010 at 3:36 am

    Nice post.

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