Filling a hole rather than a gap; Smithfield’s Dublin Vintage Factory is the secondhand, kilo store which is located in an industrial style warehouse, where visible piping commands every inch of its Feng shui. Definitely not to everyone’s taste but for the droves that make their trek beyond the Luas lines, it definitely does the job. Co-owner, Terri Murphy thinks so anyway.
“Because it was an old building, we had to be extremely respectful of it when we arrived. We wanted that too and found the industrial interior worked for us – though we didn’t actually have a door for almost the first full year of trading, the warehouse suited our product and suited our vibe.”
It suits their customers too as an array of giddy shoppers can, more often than not, be seen sauntering towards the warehouse door, later emerging laden with their latest finds of sequins, faux fur and all that lies between. No, the depot decor is not for everyone, but for the Dublin Vintage it does just fine and actually has more of a functional objective than just its grunge-gorg optics.
“We get deliveries four days a week,” explains Murphy, “they come to the basement of the warehouse, which is actually twice the size. We sort through the delivery and a day later it hits the floor.” Things move pretty fast in the factory but it is definitely not a place of fast fashion. The rails are filled with iridescent items from past lives that have been passed down, refurbished to now robe the fashion forward of Dublin. “Shopping vintage is a movement. Aside from liking that vintage look and the character a garment holds, our customer is reusing, buying something sustainable.”
Based on the ever popular model from mainland Europe, garments are bought not just by the wist of the customer but also by the weight of the clothing. Terri tells that, previous to their Smithfield opening in January 2016, he had “Tried out kilo sales before in a smaller store on South William Street and they went down really well. I saw it a lot over in Paris. There’s a certain lifestyle there that vibes with this type shopping and I could see a market for it here too. At just €20 per kilo, our stock is accessible to a whole host of ages and lifestyles. It allows people, from all walks of life, to come in with 20 quid and come out with a whole new wardrobe.”
Terri’s own background is extremely retail-centric, having worked in the high street for years previous to The Dublin Vintage Factory. “I’ve always loved working in retail and working with customers, but after years in it, some things became a bit tired. Two things happened. I got sick of working for other people and I realized there was a lot things that I could do better myself.” So he did. Using his retail knowledge and his long-time love of vintage he opened first, Golly Gosh in Temple Bar and then later in South William Street, The Dublin Vintage Factory’s original H.Q. Upon reaching max capacity from a kilo sale point of view, Terri and co packed up shop and headed northside.
When asked the all important question of location, location location, Terri spoke of the woeful state of Dublin’s rent situation. “Rent is just so high in Dublin. It’s ridiculous. As we saw it, we had two options – sit and wait for the next crash or go further afield.” Thankfully the latter won out and they landed in the old warehouse, which subsequently lead to it being sans door and had, at the time, only one electrical socket.
Terri admits that he wasn’t all too familiar with his surroundings at first. “Even though I had been in Dublin 9 years, Smithfield was still totally unknown, which, naturally, was daunting. But, for better or for worse, I tend to jump into everything full force. Once we opened, things around us started to happen. Coffee shops and restaurants started to follow suit. But I guess that’s just what’s happening now in Dublin. Rather than putting up with ridiculous rent, people are making their own subcultures outside of the city and I’m all for it.”
The Dublin Vintage Factory has continued to grow this subculture and a second store opened last month on 29 Wellington Quay.
Words: Sinead Reilly
dublinvintagefactory.com 57 Smithfield Square, Dublin 7