Sunday 19 November 2017

Vintage clothes: Fluorescent Elephant

Angela Scanlon

Fluorescent Elephant is bringing a new kind of vintage to Dublin. The store is a treasure trove for anyone interested in vintage fashion. Sinead Kelly, founder and brains behind the operation spoke to me about the idea behind the store.

For anyone who doesn't know the concept behind Fluorescent Elephant, tell us a little about it?

Fluorescent Elephant is a vintage store which specialises in on-trend vintage. We study upcoming trends so we can choose the vintage that people will want to wear and feel comfortable in. They can wear our garments without the risk of looking twee, doily or dated. Our vintage fits in with modern wardrobe staples so the look is contemporary with that vintage edge. All of our vintage has been cleaned, has no holes or stains and is ready to wear.

Do you have specific requirements for garments when you're purchasing for the store?

All our vintage is handpicked. We look for garments that reflect upcoming trends or those classical vintage pieces that are always in demand. We also keep an eye out for items with potential. Maybe a dress is a dodgy length but has beautiful material and other interesting features. We bag these for our RelePhant section. Each piece is thoroughly checked to ensure there are no holes or stains.

Are the clothes all vintage or reworked?

All the items are indeed vintage. We have a section on the site called RelePhant. In this section we put any items that have been altered. We do not rework the clothes as such. We try to maintain the integrity of the garment but may just raise a hemline so that the item is more wearable. Like in the case of 80s dresses we raise many of those hemlines from calf length to more contemporary levels so the wearer does not look like Angela from Who's the Boss? or Ferris Bueller's Mom. Though I love them both!

Who is your customer?

Anyone who loves vintage but does not want to look dated. They want vintage that they can wear easily instead of buying pieces that stay in the wardrobe because they never find a context in which to wear it or something to match it with.

Have charity stores stocking vintage pieces and high street stores selling "vintage-inspired" clothing taken away from the specialised nature of vintage shopping?

I think that both have lent a certain accessibility to vintage and so it’s a good thing. The charity stores appeal to people who are willing to put in the foot work to find an occasional treasure at a great price. There are some amazing finds to be had but fashion is not the primary concern of charity shops and so it is impossible for them to stock an extensive range of in-demand items. High streets stores that have “vintage inspired” lines attract those who maybe don’t have the time to trawl the streets for vintage but want a quick vintage style fix. They are not necessarily seeking unique pieces. With that in mind I believe there will always be a place for the vintage store though perhaps not in the traditional sense.

What's your favourite era in terms of clothing?

I actually can’t say that I have one. I love elements of every era. I’m still loving the whole eighties thing as those are the clothes that suit my frame and I’m most comfortable in. I’m rarely out of my skinny jeans and love a good blazer that I can team with a frilly dress so it’s not overtly feminine. I’m also a sucker for a good 70’s playsuit and have a couple that I’m willing the sun to come out for.

Whose wardrobe would you love to raid - old skool & modern day?

If it’s just a case of raiding it and not having to wear it in public then I would say David Bowie certainly for old skool. I would quite enjoy prancing around in a spandex onesie and leg warmers. In modern terms and if the same conditions apply it would probably be Karen O from The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I Like the theatrical nature of her onstage ensembles and I don’t have easy access to a feathered war bonnet myself so…

What celebrity would you love to give a make over to?

Probably Courtney Love. Despite her usual bedraggled look she has had a few flirtations with near perfection over the years. Although I’m not sure I would bother as she would only go open her mouth and ruin the whole illusion!

Who do you think gets it right?

I think Marina Diamonds from Marina and the Diamonds and Alison Mosshart from the Kills get it spot on. They always wear vintage pieces in a very effortless manner and look truly modern. I admire Chloe Sevigny’s very daring attitude to clothes. She tries some unlikely combos and makes it work. Mostly anyway! I’m also quite liking Leigh Lezark from The Misshapes at the moment. She always looks beautiful but perhaps plays it a little safe.

Tips for anyone vintage shopping for the first time?

For anyone buying vintage first time I would say to buy something you will be comfortable in. Buy a top and team it with your skinnies. Vintage is all about small statements. If you go for an all over vintage rig out you risk looking like a throw back. Pick one vintage item, keep everything else modern, including your make-up.

Lots of people are opting for vintage as bridal wear - do you stock anything that might work for a wedding?

Not currently. We are going to concentrate on doing what we do best at this point but in future years there might be a spin off. Everyone would love to shop at a store called Fluorescent Brides wouldn’t they? Actually, no, that sounds like the title of a Sam Raimi horror movie!

Fluorescent Elephant is on St William St., Dublin at the Master Thief’s Secret Lair (opposite Spy Bar).

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