Mina Green had a chat with Source Vintage‘s top chief Stephen Wells to discuss gender, body image and his love for Joe Strummer.
How was Source Vintage ‘born’?
Source Vintage (SV) was born out of frustration really, frustration with the high street’s failure to evolve with an ever changing society, a society which in 2016 is far more diverse and open in terms of size, sexuality and gender, than perhaps ever before. However, despite this there is still a very narrow standard of what ‘beauty’ is in today’s society, which is not inclusive of people of all shapes and sizes or of non-conforming gender or transgender. We continue to be categorised and told how we are expected to look and dress to conform with a perception of what is considered ‘normal’ or ‘acceptable’. Through a passion for positive body image and gender neutral style, SV wanted to break down these barriers by providing a safe and non-discriminatory retail experience where style is not dictated to by the perceptions and opinions of others.
SV has been a creative project through which we have recruited a number of very talented students and graduates. We hope to provide these individuals with a platform on which to showcase their talents and further their careers. We use amateur models, all of whom have told us that their experience with us has helped them feel more confident in themselves and more accepting of their bodies. This is the SV ethos.
Our online store caters predominantly for the vintage loving heroes out there. Vintage clothing is such a fantastic tool for promoting, showcasing and encouraging innovation and individuality in the construction of personal style. After all, fashion is an expression of one’s self, a representation of one’s personality, an identity, so why should this be restricted because of the ‘girls wear dresses/boys wear trousers’ brigade, or the army of body shamers out there whose minds have been manipulated into thinking a ‘perfect’ body type exists.
We know that change will take time, it’s a gradual process we know that, but look very closely and you will see the revolution has already begun. SV are here to help lead that charge!
Why do you think gender stereotypes are still so rigidly upheld in fashion and mainstream media?
My personal opinion is that quite simply, the industries are not inclusive enough of diverse groups. Certainly, there are many fewer females than males in the fashion industry and almost all forms of mainstream media. I think i’ll leave that there… *drops the mic*
On your website, there is the option to shop by model, what do you think are the advantages in providing this for customers?
Firstly and perhaps most importantly, it takes away any labelling or categorising. We hope by having the measurements of the model instead of the clothing, that our customers will be able to relate more personably to a model with a similar body type to theirs. Furthermore, we hope that it will encourage innovation and individuality in the construction of their own personal style. We want the SV shopping experience to change the hearts and minds of people, to give them the confidence to truly express themselves.
Who has inspired or influenced you growing up (from the fashion industry or otherwise)?
I’ve got to say Joe Strummer. He was a fighter for lots of causes and for the simple premise that there was a step forward to be taken. For that simple stand of faith and courage, that belief in believing, therein stands the hero, and I hope that some of that Strummer spirit is reflected in what we are doing here at SV.
If you could sum up the ethos of Source Vintage in five words what would they be?
Inclusive, diverse, passionate, safe and honest.
If you could only wear one outfit for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Not so much an outfit, but I own a very nice vintage blood red velvet waistcoat which I love with all my heart. I’d probably wear that.
Which famous person, living or dead, do you think would look the snazziest in SV clothing?
I will say Camille Berthomier. If you’re reading this Camille, get in touch and we’ll kit you out!
Finally, what advice would you give to anyone looking to pursue a career in the fashion industry?
I would say be strong, be yourself, stick to your principles and if they can’t respect that, find someone that can. Kind of works for life too!