It’s hard to ignore Portland’s staple online and brick-and-mortar vintage shop, YO VINTAGE! (not that you would ever want to ignore it). With great one-of-a-kind finds that don’t last long and amazing collaborations, including this month’s Refinery29 exclusive 75-piece YO VINTAGE! collection, it’s always the right time to shop. We recently had the pleasure of meeting the owner—a London transplant with a ridiculously cute dog and ridiculously cute shoes—Sarah Radcliff. E+E: How did Yo Vintage begin? What brought you from rainy London to rainy Portland?Sarah Radcliff: I moved from London to Portland with my man who works for Nike. I gave up my job and came out here to discover that Portland is in fact the mecca of the vintage world. I'd never seen anything like it! I then started freelancing for the fashion company I used to work for in London sourcing and buying vintage clothing as inspiration for designers (basically they would copy/tweak the design, then sell them on the High Street shops—Topshop, Primark, New Look etc.) After a while, people started liking what I was buying and some people in Portland wanted to buy from me, so I set up Yo Vintage! in my basement. I started really slowly; totally self-taught taking photos and selling through pop-up shops and Facebook.
E+E: How did you choose the pieces for the Refinery29 collaboration? Were they looking for something specific?SR: They really liked our aesthetic and styling, so they gave us free reign of what to do. In the end, I decided to put together some tran-seasonal personal favourites; as this weather is so inbetweeny, I wanted to offer some keeper pieces.E+E: What's your favorite 'vintage find' story? Any fights break out in thrift stores? Crazy cheap designer pieces in the bottom of buckets?SR: Well, I love to thrift and I definitely love the hunt, but I kind of like to do it solo, and in quieter places. I tried really hard to conquer the bins, as it's so cheap. I really admire the girls who do it here and have AMAZING vintage shops here, but it's really really intense and hard work, and also it's very territorial. People who have been going for years have it down and there is no room for you, unless you're prepared to wait it out, or get snatchy. So, yes, I've been at the bins and had things snatched out of my hands by ladies my age and I didn't snatch back. I couldn't be arsed (I just slashed their tires outside—JOKING!) So I've moved on to going further afield and traveling a bit for the finds.And yes, I have had lots of vintage amazing finds where my heart skips a beat, but my favourites are always amazing printed jumpsuits; I just love 'em!E+E: We won’t be pissing you off anytime soon, we like our tires intact. When you "need" something, where do you like to shop in town?SR: That is a really tricky one. Since I'm either in my studio or in my shop, I don't have much time to get out and about, but I love Palace and Frances May to get something lovely.E+E: What's your favorite thing about Portland?SR: SPACE! Having moved from London, I really appreciate the space. And the outdoors! The closeness to the mountains and camping spots is a bonus.E+E: And one last question...just how big is your closet? We need the deets.SR: Ha! It's actually quite small! I tend to only buy pieces that I will wear a trillion times over, so as I've gotten older, I definitely have less. But then again, I have a studio (where we do all the online shoots) and that shop is full of clothing I have chosen and love, so technically my closet is massive!!!Lucky for all of you, YO VINTAGE! will be hosting First Thursday on March 7, from 6-9pm.Local designer Lindsey Reif has teamed up with Portland design studio Pattern People on an incredible collaboration of spring turbans, headbands, and accessories which will be exclusive to Yo! for the month of March. Pattern People has also made gorgeous custom mirrors which will be installed at the shop. Cocktails and champagne will be served up as well...of course.Photo Courtesy: Charise Cusanelli + Anja Verdugo + Yo Vintage!