Vintage, briefly, on East U
The Elias twins' 3-month lease
by Sally Mitani
From the March, 2011 issue
"It was vacant, and they'd rather make money than not make money. I said, 'I'm a student and I'd like to try this out,'" says twenty-year-old Samantha Elias, co-owner with her twin sister, Morgan, of the Vintage Twin, a resale shop temporarily housed in a walk-up on East University next to Zaragon Place. Elias was explaining, with exquisitely serene self-assurance that may come from being a U-M business school student, or from having parents who both work in New York's garment district, how she managed to negotiate a three-month lease in a town where the norm is three to five years.
Samantha Elias is the twin you're likely to find in the store (though Morgan, who studies photography in New York, drops in often). She's always worn vintage, and she says that when she worked in Manhattan last summer, "people would stop me everywhere I went and ask, 'Where did you get this?' because everything I was wearing was so obviously not from a department store."
In addition to pure vintage, she also sells "remodels" (vintage with some additions of her own, like leather elbow patches or a new hemline) and "originals" (clothing of her own design made from recycled fabrics). The only new thing in the store is the pile of zippered Vintage Twin tote bags--one comes free with any purchase.
Child of the garment district though she is, Elias says Manhattan is absolutely no help to her when it comes to amassing inventory: "New York is one of the more expensive places for vintage. The Midwest is great." Her lease expires at the end of April, by which point she'll have all her inventory on the website for online purchase over the summer. In the fall, she plans to reopen somewhere in the South U area.
The Vintage Twin, 617 East University, 757-8191. Mon.-Sat. noon-5 p.m. (or when sign is outside). www. thevintagetwin.com
[Originally published in March, 2011.]