LOOK FOR CONTEMPORARY TAKES ON TREASURED FINDS AT THIS YEAR-OLD BOUTIQUE
Story by Alexa Tomaszewski
Vintage lace, soft Deco silk, daywear separates, cocktail dresses from decades past and a range of accessories big and small make up Magwood boutique. Here, fashion seekers can find pristine vintage and second-hand designer wares. The luxury boutique’s collection is interspersed with high-end pieces by Hermès, Chanel, Versace, Yves Saint Laurent and Dior, all infused with a sense of history.
Sarah Magwood opened the eponymous boutique in April of 2011 and just celebrated her one-year anniversary at the store’s Dundas West location. After graduating from university in the spring of 2009, Sarah organized a six-month long design series called “Make Sale” at The Drake Hotel. During this time she curated several weekly pop-up shops featuring interactive components and installations with local vintage retailers, fashion designers and artists. Over time, her love of fashion and vintage wares led to the opening of her own store.
The store itself is bright and inviting; along each wall of exposed brick are clothing racks arranged by colour. Sarah spends the majority of her time behind an Elvis-era display case filled with baubles. It’s here where we really start to get a sense of what makes this store stand out amongst the crowd. She took some time to tell Plaid Magazine a little bit about what’s new at her lovely shop.
What is it that you look for in pieces when buying?
When it comes to clothing I like to go with pieces that are very elegant and feminine, that are very classic, [and that have] flattering lines that will highlight the beauty of the female body. I always gravitate to a lot of flow-y dresses and beautiful tailored silk blouses. As much as possible I go for good quality silks and cotton, nice laces, and [look at] more of the textiles themselves.
When it comes to jewellery, I like statement pieces. I like things that are very loud and have a personality. I’m not really one for dainty jewellery, though I do try and cater to people that gravitate towards that aesthetic.
Where do you draw inspiration from when you’re buying or putting items together?
I do look at fashion magazines and it definitely gives me an understanding of what’s going on in the moment, but I think more so [it's] seeing people’s unique approach to fashion. Seeing people take new garments and old garments and put them together to create a really interesting conversation.
I love looking at people who take it to the next level and they realize that fashion has the potential to be another form of art, in that it’s on the streets and is completely visible to the general public. It’s something where you’ll turn the corner and all of a sudden you’ll see somebody and they’ll completely inspire you in the way they mix texture and colour, or work with their body to create totally new shapes.
Magwood has new woven bracelets in for summer. Can you tell me a little bit about what makes these special?
The woven bracelets I’ve designed in collaboration with a not-for-profit organization called Woven Joy. They’re based out of Hudson, Iowa, but the organization is run in the Philippines and basically it’s a poverty alleviation project where women from Manila design and make bracelets that are then sold internationally. Profits go directly back to these women, enabling them to support their families, participate in educational programs and get other necessary programs off the ground.
Did you choose the styles and colours to fit into the aesthetic of the store?
I worked with the organization and they gave me all the patterns available. Based on that I chose the colour schemes that I thought reflected contemporary fashions going on right now. I looked to the spring collections for this season to get the palettes and they turned out really fun! It’s amazing because they are not expensive (between $7 and $15) and they support a really fantastic cause; it’s really great that we can do this in a way that’s also good for karma.
There’s been a big re-emergence this season with friendship bracelets. I remember making them and trading with friends, and I’ve noticed them coming back in fashion magazines and on blogs. Can you speak to that?
I think the whole friendship bracelet trend has really come back because when people travel you can get them, all through South America, in Southeast Asia…. All over the world you find these woven bracelets that are really colourful. I think people started collecting them as visual signifiers of their own travel experiences.
As people started to collect more they would get these massive wrists full of colour, and as that starts to get on the internet and the international blogosphere, people see [that] it’s a really beautiful way to get a lot of colour into your accessories without having to spend a lot of money.
I remember when I was a little kid making “V-pattern” [bracelets] for myself. It’s crazy to see, you look at these pieces and you think of how much time it takes. I think people are starting to share them again and give them back and forth. It’s just a fun little token of friendship, experiences, and travelling.
And on top of that it’s really nice to see that the money made from their sale goes back into the economy that made the pieces and not back into the big business that sold them.
Yes, and I really struggle with that. I mean, on Net-A-Porter and places like that they are selling similar bracelets for $80 and you really have no idea where the money is going. With this, at least you know it’s going directly back to the women who make the bracelets. You know it’s going towards improving their lives, as well as enriching your own.
Do you have anything else new or notable out for the season that shoppers might be interested in hearing about?
I just put out hand-painted rhinestone jewellery [pieces]. I recently went to New York City and I got a bunch of pieces from the ‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s and I’ve hand-painted all of them, taking something vintage and making it really contemporary.
Magwood, 1418 Dundas Street West, Toronto.