Retro is Red; Vintage is in

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Red Face Vintage Shop in Nanjing

Take metro line 3, get off at Wuding Men, walk down Changle Lu and turn left when you see a flower shop. Be attracted immediately by the vivid yellow decoration around the corner; our destination.

Fashionable girls wearing oversized shirt were taking pictures in front of the yellow gate. Indeed, the Japanese characters are eye-catching and produce an old-school atmosphere with the contrast of yellow and turquoise.  

Upon stepping in, that odor of old fabric drags me back to England when I shopped in a local vintage market. It’s a truly international smell, proven by Red Face being more Japanese vintage style, with hip-hop posters on the wall and manga figure dolls.

Catching my eye at first glance were the second hand accessories, glowing under the lights, by Chanel and Dior, also brought from Japan and most from the luxury collections thereof. Then I came across ear rings emblazoned with the iconic Chanel or YSL logos, second-hand handbags still in good nick, a classic coat from Burberry and a redesigned shirt from Columbia; all intact and highly recommended by other shoppers.

Red Face owner, Tom Yu, accounted for his collection of Japanese/American vintage stuff as he travels between the two for work from time to time. A fanatical vintage lover, he has personally selected every item. “You can see a big difference from these two counties in terms of vintage shop,” he told me. “In Japan, they mostly sell second-hand luxuries, while American vintage shop are more like street fashion style”. Thus is shop is segregated.

Having been around for 6 years now, and with more than 200 vintage items over 50 years old, the Red Face reputation has spread far and wide. Jackets from Nascar, Oreo, Tide, M&M, Pepsi or MacDonalds, all bought at auction the States, have tempted customers from other cities to Nanjing. 

Yet, it is the Tommy Hilfiger street casuals of the 1980s that Yu remains most proud of, while girls would scream for those flower-pattern blouses and classic grid pattern one-piece outfits. Neither is it difficult to find scarves or a bling-bling belt to complete an ensemble.

Once linked to rubbish from foreign counties, when it comes to “second-hand”, Chinese people might doubt where the clothes are originally from, or they are concerned about hygiene. A problem that every vintage store in China is confronting, Red Face Store is committed to promoting retro clothing culture to the young people of today and providing a Japan-Chinese and European-Chinese art exchange centre. 

Yu has observed that more and more young people are interested in this kind of “new” fashion, telling me, “As young people now speak a different language and accept different education from various cultures, so that they are increasingly exposed to these kind of vintage culture and happy to try new things”. 

Red Face opened a second branch on Shanghai Lu on 31 May, planning on having more more vintage Euro, in addition to their Japanese and American retro.

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Kristen Wang
A Nanjing local, Kristen studied Media and Public relations in Newcastle University (UK), has researched social media and online publishing and previously worked for different new media platforms. She is passionate about discovering new stories and helping expats involved in this city. 南京人Kristen毕业于纽卡斯尔大学,媒体与公共关系硕士学位。她的研究专注于社交媒体和网络发行,在不同的新媒体平台工作。她喜欢发现新鲜事,也希望帮助在南京的外国人融入这里的生活。