Monday, November 2, 2009

Shopping Vintage @ Amarcord, Williamsburg, NYC

I love the idea of vintage and I love people with a great eye for wearing vintage, but personally, I just don’t have the patience to shop at vintage stores.
Usually they are overstuffed and poorly edited, and once you find a piece you love, it is never in your size.

However, I popped into Amarcord in Williamsburg during the marathon on Sunday (no, I wasn’t running), and I was pleasantly surprised at how beautifully the shop was presented–wonderful color stories and very well-edited. I’ve said it a million times: retail is all about edit and presentation. Vintage stores are not immune to this rule, and if they follow it, they soar over their competition.

Even without buying anything, I loved going through the racks and marveling at the colors, patterns, and texture play. These photos were not items I edited myself; this is exactly how I found them on the rack.
Amarcord has a few locations:
SoHo – 252 Lafayette St
Williamsburg – 223 Bedford Ave
Showroom and Archive (by appointment) – 242 Wythe Ave


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  1. by char C

    November 2, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    it is one of the most well curated vintage shops in the city for sure (and not only because I'm biased…)!

  2. Soren Lorensen

    November 2, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    beautiful combinations

  3. Style Scanner

    November 2, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    Ahhh, vintage shopping on Bedford on a Sunday afernoon….bliss.

  4. Donned and Delivered

    November 2, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    I like the houndstooth. Especially Alexander McQueen houndstooth.

  5. Jacqueline

    November 2, 2009 at 6:00 pm

  6. Brigadeiro

    November 2, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    I totally agree with you, in that retail is all about edit and presentation. Sadly there are few vintage stores that fit that description here…your find looks great!

  7. taryn

    November 2, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    I was wondering when you would make it to my hood! There was a shop in Williamsburg called Houndstooth all beautifully edited men's vintage I think you would have swooned over. Sadly it recently closed….

    Amacord is good. A bit pricey but very well laid out. You should also check out their warehouse a few blocks away. It's full of great finds!

    ~taryn xx

  8. Fashion Monstre

    November 2, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    such beautiful fall colors!

  9. CW

    November 2, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    You are absolutely right about edit and presentation, especially when it comes to mens clothes. Most of us shop on our lunch hours and don't have time to sift through racks with random sizes.


    November 2, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    The problem is that most of the vintage stores owners they think that the fact of being vintage means that it has to look like a mess and full of stuff, and most of the times they don't know how to buy the right things for sailing.


  11. Lolitta

    November 2, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    "I want to go to there!"

    *said in my best Liz Lemon voice*

    (for those that watch 30 Rock)

  12. katthroatworld

    November 2, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    i must visit this place!

  13. the gorgeous

    November 2, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    Awesome fabrics and colours! I'd love to buy these fabrics and customize my own jackets, sweaters, dresses, blouses.. Hence vintage stores won't be needed!

  14. The Voguette

    November 2, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    i've been to their soho location when I was interning in new york over the summer – it's honestly a hidden treasure. You're absolutely right, textures and patterns are unlike anything else I've seen!

    <3 The Voguette

  15. Susan

    November 2, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    I love vintage browsing but not actually look for a particular item! But if i so happen to fall upon a great item then it's my luck! I love Vintage too but i do not have the patience for it!

  16. Blade

    November 2, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    I agree, I love vintage especially when combined with new to make your own look. But I've walked out of many a vintage store because I just didn't want to spend the time to wade through all the Salvation Army rejects to try and find the diamond in the rough. That's the vintage stores job and why you pay a premium.


  17. Rach

    November 2, 2009 at 7:47 pm


  18. lintmag

    November 2, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    I have to completely disagree – while new retail should be organized, well merchandised and perfect, I love a messy, who-knows-what shop for vintage and thrift. This suggests to me that the owners are not as savvy about what they have and the prices are generally (much) lower. Maybe it's just my love of finding the jewel in the midst of the melee.

  19. sanmiguelense

    November 2, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    Sad but true, many vintage store owners don't edit and are not great at presentation. The problem is that they don't know how to tell stories or don't have good stories to tell. Utterly disappointing and wasted opportunity for selling the clothes.

  20. Francesca

    November 2, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    i need to go to williamsburg!!! planning a trip up there this wkd after this post!!


    F <– two girls living in nyc and chicago blogging all things fashion!

  21. The Red Velvet Shoe

    November 2, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    Interesting…as a virtual vintage boutique owner, I enjoy "the hunt" in a chock full shop, hoping I'll find that one amazing jewel among the junk…but if I were fortunate enough to be proprietress of an actual brick & mortar shoppe, I would be a woman obsessed with "edit" "color stories" "presentation" ~~ it would be the most creative part, I think. So…. I'm now thinking I should try to be more diligent about this in my virtual shop~~it's not as much fun, but it probably is just as important. Do you think the same applies to a virtual vintage shoppe?
    ps~~I'd be more than happy to be hired as your vintage personal shopper! :)

  22. Abhilash

    November 2, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    I am new to your blog and I like this place.

    You said it right, it is all about presentation in retails. Next is the question of returning visits that depends on the environment within it.

    The more the returning visits, the more will be the conversions.

    But the first thing is indeed presentation.

    They are really beautiful combinations.

  23. Fashion4Life

    November 2, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    perfect(: inspiring, luscious, amazing, great store

  24. Holly

    November 2, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    I actually love digging…it's a sport with me! I even find treasures that need a little sprucing up and they end up on my favorites list!

  25. candy

    November 2, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    I like walking into a vintage store which looks and feels loved and well attended to; this seems like a lovely place.

  26. Runway Reviews

    November 3, 2009 at 12:36 am

    great fabrics, love vintage because easy to wear. Yeah difficult to find a good shop.

  27. Anonymous

    November 3, 2009 at 2:09 am

    Gorgeous colours I love it ! Sunny

  28. Spardha Malik

    November 3, 2009 at 2:40 am

    i kind of enjoy the challenge of finding something exciting in a cramped store!!! Not that I wouldn't love a nicely laid down store BUT finding from a mess is a treasure,…. that i wudn't want anybody else to find before me :)
    thanks scott … u and garance are such an INSPIRATION!!

  29. ChervelleCamille

    November 3, 2009 at 3:40 am

    Great blend of colours, patterns, and textures.

  30. Rose

    November 3, 2009 at 3:54 am

    Amarcord…what a beautiful name for a beautiful shop apparently !
    But it's also the title (witch means "I remember" in romagnol's dialect) of a superb Fellini's movie: watch it every body !

  31. Stjarna

    November 3, 2009 at 4:31 am

    love vintage! i got some vintage clothes from my grandmother's closet..they're so fabolous, i can't really sty without them! ;)

  32. Bettina

    November 3, 2009 at 4:33 am

    I'm from Switzerland and I went to New York last week for vacations and also to visit a friend. My friend lives in Williamsburg, I went by chance to Amarcord where I bought a wonderful necklace! Incredible how world is small sometimes!

  33. inoue asuka

    November 3, 2009 at 4:51 am

    pretty fabrics, nice photos..:D

  34. Ammu

    November 3, 2009 at 5:24 am

    How lovely – looks like a beautiful place to visit.

  35. Anonymous

    November 3, 2009 at 5:36 am

    I agree ith lintmag….. but mostly because any vintage shop nicely merchadised bounds to be overpriced too. real shame.

  36. Sniurk

    November 3, 2009 at 5:38 am

    good :)

  37. Anna

    November 3, 2009 at 6:23 am

    It's good for vintage shops to be picky. Why can't they be more like boutiques, kinda spacey, not stuffed and crammed? And not stinky? And maybe a tad more refined as far as taste? Some styles are out of style for a reason – due to terrible cut, color, pattern… I mean, what woman is best flattered in a skirt or dress whose hem hits mid-calf? So terrible. BUT, these pictures are beautiful and I might just have to check Amarcord out the next time I'm in the city

    Anna –

  38. charlotte&celine

    November 3, 2009 at 6:31 am

    Le vintage…
    on adore,on adhere!
    surtout dans le meilleur des blogs…

  39. Emily

    November 3, 2009 at 7:02 am

    I've been to the one in SoHo and I agree, it's definitely one of the best vintage stores ever.

  40. Lene Johansen

    November 3, 2009 at 7:27 am

    If you ever go to Paris, make sure to visit; Thanx God I'm a V.I.P vintage shop. It is so well organized and has the top brands for a reasonable price. She also makes sure to get the shoes that are used at the latest fashion shows, so this shop is perfect!

    I love your blog!

  41. Nina

    November 3, 2009 at 7:54 am

    Would you like to visit my blog from Madrid, Spain? my daughter and I have just opened a very little online vintage shop where we offer "little treasures". My daughter and her friends are the models.
    Thanks a lot!

  42. Thelma

    November 3, 2009 at 8:06 am

    I agree, but I think the shopper must make the ultimate edit: who cares about how it looks in the shop? Clothes must look GREAT on you!

  43. Gary K.

    November 3, 2009 at 8:44 am

    A good vintage store is a rare find. There's one in humble little town called Ragtime, where the owner hand picks everything so there are quality pieces and none of the Salvation Army/Kmart 70s junk.

    I've picked up everything from 90s RL shirts to 1960s blazers and overcoats. The stuff from 50s and 60s really goes well with a lot of the new stuff I buy.


    November 3, 2009 at 9:06 am


  45. Anonymous

    November 3, 2009 at 9:16 am

    thank you for your ideas, thank you for showing the Style, the Imagination,… thank you for showing ART
    when will you bring your camera to Madrid? i hope that day i will be on the street.

  46. Anonymous

    November 3, 2009 at 9:35 am

    middle shot from left to right: blazer, scarf, shirt. Nice.


  47. Jorge from W Palm Beach

    November 3, 2009 at 9:44 am

    Well, I am both a Goodwill shopper and a vintage shopper. I agree with many of your readers that for a vintage store you ARE paying a premium, and so the selection should be edited for you, for those pieces that are well cut, in good condition, and appropriate to current trends. At Goodwill, you are really at their mercy, but I have managed to find great stuff (yes, Prada, Hermes, Gucci, and Bottega) for next to nothing. I personally enjoy the hunt more, with a few splash items from the more expensive shops. Jorge from WPB

  48. Anonymous

    November 3, 2009 at 10:37 am

    Well, Jorge, you live in used clothing heaven, dont you? Always heard Palm Beach was the best for that?

  49. stefica

    November 3, 2009 at 11:28 am

    i recommend tokio7 on e. 7th street in manhattan. the absolute best was yu on ludlow street, but she closed up. i got some great pieces there, mostly japanese vintage, also some t-shirts by a local designer.

  50. cristóbal

    November 3, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    one of the greatest rushes i get from vintage shopping is finding an incredible item buried in crap. sizing is always an issue, but that is why i have a tailor. i figured that a $5 blazer that requires $50 in alterations is still a steal, specially when the style is unique. stores that edit their collections are not only overpriced, but take that joy out of the equation.

    i am still holding on the the salvation army and village outlet locations in chicago-the best way to spend an afternoon and explore neighborhoods otherwise left unseen.

    is the book tour ever coming to chicago?

  51. desertwind

    November 3, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    I have mixed feelings.

    On the one hand, if you can afford vintage stores like this one, it's a pleasure to shop there.

    But, there's something about "the find" you might make at a messy old thrift store or garage sale or flea market. Of course, you have to have your "radar" on for these places.

    Oh for the days when big ol' rag factories would have "the hippie room." Clothes piled to the ceiling and you paid a dollar for all you could stuff in a paper bag.


  52. hi-d

    November 3, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    Lovely…the fabrics and colors are great! Well presented and merchandised.

  53. Anonymous

    November 3, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    beautiful color!!! i love them.

  54. Librarian

    November 3, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    You are so absolutelylutelylutely right about retail being about editing and presentation! Why do so few retailers realise it?

  55. Librarian

    November 3, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    …have just read all the other comments. The thing is – it IS all about the edit. Sometimes you may actually want a presentation that is about treasure hunting and disorder and searching for a find ( eg with vintage) but, as a retailer, you have to make a decision and edit/present accordingly . If you just dump it unthinkingly you may as well be running a jumble sale and where's the fun in it? the artistry?

    Vintage is a different game but I am sick of walking into non-vintage shops and it LOOKS like a jumble sale but the clothes cost hundreds of pounds… every size is out, there is no clear style to the shop and it's all bunged in together. It's not to do with being tidy necessarily – it's to do with clearly projecting what you are doing; what you are selling. All the best retailers have a strong, clear character and that's down to buyers/owners who edit and present well.

  56. Anonymous

    November 3, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    I once followed a customer around a vintage shop who had a skirt I desparately wanted in her hand. I hid behind a rack and watched her try it on and model it for her boyfriend. I stalked her for what seemed like hours, hoping she would decide not to buy it. Alas, I watched her go to the register, buy it, and even watched her get in her car and drive off, with the skirt of my dreams…..

  57. The Style Strutter

    November 3, 2009 at 4:18 pm

  58. Lucas Jones

    November 3, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    i love this post scott. i love when you get into the details….i would also love a scott schuman blog.

  59. Heather

    November 3, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    One of my favorite places in Williamsburg! The owners are a delight :-) I miss living there :-(

  60. Cherry Tree Lane

    November 3, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    Why can't it be closer to me?

  61. heather

    November 3, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    how fun!

    take a peek at my philadelphia store


  62. Anonymous

    November 3, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    "I love the idea of vintage and I love people with a great eye for wearing vintage, but personally, I just don't have the patience to shop at vintage stores.

    Usually they are overstuffed and poorly edited, and once you find a piece you love, it is never in your size."

    Very true. But shopping for vintage clothing is kind of like reading this blog. There's little hope of duplicating the look exactly, but that's not really what you want anyway. The ideas here and in vintage stores are jumping-off points, things you [should] use to spark your own ideas and develop your own style.

    Along this line, I strongly recommend the images in the myvintagevogue's photostream at NAYY.

  63. Anonymous

    November 3, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    The owners of the store shop at the Manhattan Vintage Show and the Piers Vintage Shows in NYC. So you can save some money and go there instead!

  64. Hawa

    November 3, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    i, like a sheep, am in total agreement…though i have the patience and do browse for hours and hours till i find something i'm in love with…but sadly yes, they are awfully edited…here in sydney the only place i can think of that has an organized look is 'Grandma takes a trip' but i often find the sales staff extremely snobby and certain merchandise highly overpriced….by the way these colours and textures are lovely, from a textile point of view its truly heaven

  65. 3windows

    November 4, 2009 at 3:32 am

    Should you happen to be on the bottom of the earth on a lovely island called Tamania…..For a lovely laid out mezzanine of vintage dressups…..visit 3 Windows in Oatlands, Tasmania, Australia……..

  66. B

    November 4, 2009 at 10:00 am

    This is one of my favorite shops in NYC! Contrary to the Anonymous comment, the owners are actually Italian and import everything back from Italy for the stores. You're lucky if they are in when you shop- they are a blast to talk with and can tell you a story about every piece in the shop.

    They also have an amazing showroom full of amazing designer pieces for designers/stylist etc to rent.

    I'm glad to see you giving them coverage!

  67. B

    November 4, 2009 at 10:13 am

    P.s., for those of you that love sifting through cheap and crowded shop to find a gem- that is THRIFTING not vintage shopping. And of course it is fun and rewarding for those who have the patience.

    Thrift stores get their stuff for FREE by DONATION, but a true vintage store is one that individually buys, sources, cleans, and repairs select pieces for their collection. I know because I was a buyer for a vintage store on the west coast for a long time! It is expensive and hard work, I don't think most people realize.

  68. Mikki on the go

    November 4, 2009 at 11:11 am

    That's so true, " Usually they are overstuffed and poorly edited, and once you find a piece you love, it is never in your size."
    Love to listen to a little bit of narration of yours like this one.

  69. Luna

    November 4, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    luv the fabrics and the color scheme!

  70. swile67

    November 4, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    I love vintage and love searching out vintage clothes. I find GREAT vintage clothes at the Salvation Army Thrift store in my home town. Not only do I look good but it's for a good cause and cheap prices!!! My other favourite vintage store is in Kensington Market in Toronto. It is called Courage My Love!

  71. kARA

    November 4, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    Williamsburg Amarcord is so great! Got the best summer top there :D


  72. Sweet Virginia

    November 5, 2009 at 8:04 am

    Ahh yes, you should come to my vintage shop! It's called Sweet Virginia, located on 164 Havemeyer Street (in Williamsburg). I think you will like it. ;-) here's my website if you're interested.
    p.s. in a couple weeks I will be putting out guys things!!

    And, I think this blog is fantastic! I found out about your blog through my friend from "2 or 3 things I know", and I have got to say it's one of my favorites! Thanks for all the beautiful pictures!


  73. Lynn

    November 5, 2009 at 10:27 am

    Wallflower Vintage is an online vintage lover's haven whose philosophy echos that of the Sartorialist. It IS all about editing and color stories.

    How indeed can one shop whilst an arm is lodged deep down into a barrel full of stale and skanky smelling polyester in order to find that one treasure that doesn't even fit?

  74. Liz S

    November 5, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    Vintage can be a difficult thing. You want to give people choice yet you still want things to look organised, attractive and comfortable, which usually means being a bit scant as well. But then there are hard core Vintage lovers that expect a little bit of chaos and a treasure hunt but still don't want the thrift shop feel. The actual diversity of Vintage buyers is one of the more difficult things to cater to.

    Just because something is not a good cut or pattern does not necessarily mean the death of the item. And that is part of the clever editing–being able to see that there just might be a redeeming quality in an immediately Viewed poor piece. There are many creative people that can transform a piece with only one redeeming quality. It's in what they put with it or indeed what they do with it in the form of reshaping/sewing/cutting. eg a dress can become cushion covers or old cushion covers can become a quirky jeans patch. I am seeing so many 90s midi floral print dresses being transformed by cutting their hemline to become minis.

    The expectation that Vintage will be cheaper also makes it difficult to settle into a higher end position as often quality, top end Vintage will be expensive to buy, and as someone else said expensive to get to store by the time sourcing/preening etc is completed.

    I s'pose the trick is sticking to one formula which works well for both the owner and the customers present and future, in a certain area. And maybe having many forms of Vintage shop is a good thing. Not having a predetermined idea of what they should be all like is also a good thing.

  75. dutchbaby

    November 6, 2009 at 11:40 am

    Thank you for the clear and direct insight!

  76. Anonymous

    November 6, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    they are lovely combinations, but vintage is about the thrill of the chase.

  77. Indie Mom and the Reluctant Banker

    November 8, 2009 at 4:26 am

    I'll definitely add it to my list for my next New York travels.

  78. murano glass

    November 12, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Shopping at vintage store is my favorite time pass.Me too love shopping very much like you…….

  79. Anonymous

    January 4, 2010 at 12:26 am

    lucky for us new yorkers, new york has quite a few well edited vintage stores.

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