It takes a certain kind of eye and exceptional vision to pull out seasonally desirable and quality items from a vintage shopping hunt. The eye has to be trained on interpreting line and shape, material and colour, while the mind has to be fuelled with the knowledge on how to align those pieces with historical references that will warrant their value. Beyond that, it all comes down to instinct.
Lauren Ardis has curated a simple and focused selection of vintage pieces for the body and home inside her Berkeley-based store mono-ha. Gifting her vintage finds a much deserved second life, each piece is beautifully styled and photographed alongside some of her personal favourites…
AG: What do you think led you to opening your own store?
I have always found it gratifying to find beautiful pieces in an unexpected way, and I think shopping vintage can really provide that experience. It’s exciting to find something that feels like it belongs in the present but is indeed from the archives, and the shop really stemmed from my desire to share that experience with others.
AG: Who are some new brands or people that are catching your eye at the moment?
I love what Gina Esposito is doing with Nu Swim – she is designing exactly what women want from swimwear right now. Kai Avent- deLeon’s curation for Sincerely, Tommy is really great and always feels refreshing and original. Her shop carries lines you can’t get most places, and she seems like she dresses for herself. I recently discovered Caron Callahan and am in love with the versatility of her pieces and her muted color palette. With Instagram and other social media outlets I feel like I’m always eyeing somebody new.
AG: What is the attraction to vintage wears for you personally?
Building a wardrobe of pieces that are special and good quality – they’ve already made it through at least one lifetime when you get them so you know they’ll survive another! Finding original pieces that nobody else has that can set your look apart. Learning a lot about fashion history- you realize pretty quickly that most designers are somehow influenced by past decades, and that history repeats itself even when it comes to fashion. Also, the environmental impact of reusing clothing that’s already been produced and not contributing to more waste.
AG: Any outstanding finds of yours that have an interesting story behind them?
I get a strange intuition when I’m about to shop that I’ll find something good. Last year I had been striking out a lot and told myself I was going to find something Celine that day and I did! A really great ’90s olive green silk dress. My most recent favorite find is this trench painter smock- it is a perfect hybrid of the two things I went into the store looking for.
AG: When you are sourcing, who is the mono-ha woman that you have in mind?
The mono-ha woman is sensible, modern, dresses for herself, and probably wears somewhat of a uniform. She’s not interested in quick trends, and would rather look unique than sexy.
AG: What are you most excited about doing this week?
A Saturday trip to the pool at Strawberry Canyon with some friends. Maybe making dinner together afterwards.
AG: You live in Berkeley, California. Can you tell us about your home and work space? Where do you like to spend your free time?
Right now I’m running the shop out of my studio apartment – it’s a tight fit! I moved here about 5 years ago to finish school and don’t plan on leaving. Berkeley and Oakland both have so much to offer – food, scenery, shopping, art – I spend a good deal of time in both places.
Some of my favorite places are Bartavelle for coffee and the Persian Breakfast, Cesar for a mid-week drink, Ippuku for super authentic Japanese food, Kronnerburger for carbonated margaritas and the best vegan burger, Boot and Shoe Service for Sunday night music… I could go on and on about places to eat and drink here. I don’t shop too much for myself because I’m usually looking for the shop, but I can never resist Social Studies in Berkeley, and every single beautiful book at BOOK/SHOP in Oakland. I live very close to Berkeley’s campus and spend a lot of time there finding new places to read, reminiscing college days, and admiring the architecture. Lake Merritt on a sunny day is pretty irresistible, too.