Some of you may not know, but this whole shop project, which I’m wrapping up, began during a St-Laurent street sale… and this edition may very well be my last.
Back in 2004, at the tender age of 21, I’d saved up some cash to travel around Asia during the winter months. I sublet my room, packed a bag, and headed to Bangkok with intentions to move around from there. Thailand has a very mercantile sensibility. People are buying and selling pretty much anything you can think of, on every scale. If you buy stating that you have plans to resell, you can negotiate a wholesale price without having to buy large amounts. The creations made by young designers I saw in the markets were so affordable and fun… I began to think “I’ve gotta do something with this!!”. I contacted my friends who ran Space FB on the main at the time, and asked if they could rent me out a little spot during the street sale that coming summer. When they agreed, I had to switch gears and get a job in Bangkok because my savings were going into buying my first lot.
I found a decent (and very cheap) guesthouse just off Khao San road and created a job for myself. Fetching potential customers was my gig. Thing is, the best time to do that was when buses travelling all night originating from the north around Chiang Mai, or southern islands, arrived at the final stop, in my neighbourhood …and that fell between 4am and 6am. There I was with the street cleaners, ladyboy sex workers, strayed drunkards, bar staff and street vendors closing up shop in the last hour of nightfall. Cruising around looking for dozy backpackers apprehensively sleep walking around in search for a room to stay. I’d walk by and make conversation, then propose they come sojourn where I was. It was a win-win scenario as I saw it. They got a decent place to stay, the guest house filled up, and I got a free room, food, a base salary (of about 5$/day), plus a little extra for every room rented. It was enough to keep me going and provided an insiders perspective on the scene. Meanwhile I was getting deep with the local street dancers, going to cross city competitions, practicing in parcs or metro stations, and busking. In the years to come I began working with a fashion magazine, djing, and co-producing events around the city. Trips every other month resulted in my thai life coming to mirror the one I lived here in Montreal. For a time at least. My buying choices brought me elsewhere once ibiki got going, and my thai-style lifestyle was replaced with other places.
…Back to that first trip.
In my spare time I scoured the city looking for the best designers and vendors. I felt compelled and inspired to select and assemble. I sought out markets of all types and tried to get a handle on how, and what, people like to wear close to their bodies. Being so far away from my home culture, it became somewhat of a socio-cultural study. The whole process was a huge learning opportunity which I embraced.
The cheapest way to ship was by boat, which took longer, but I had time. Shipping goods is no picnic however, and I had zero experience with it … I eventually got a handle on it but it took some serious trial and error to figure out let me tell you!
During this first trip and some of the next, I went through Tokyo on my way back and picked up a few things there as well. Eventually I migrated towards Hong Kong looking for goods, which led me some years later (roughly 2010) to Seoul.
I managed to haul one first box plus a suitcase down to the main in June 2004, and for the very first time set up shop. The street sale was a success, and I decided to reinvested the profits. It also meant going back to Asia to spend more time there. Especially during the winter months. Keeping on with this racket as a side thing, I participated in pop-ups around Montreal, held “sales meetings” in my homes, and of course, regularly attended the street sales until 2006 when I opened OLDgOLD Boutique. It was a signless hole in the wall on Avenue Mount-Royal.
Some years went by and my buying expanded into Europe, the US and Canada of course. In 2011 I upgraded to the current local, and returned to my yearly Street sales on the Boulevard that got me started.
So there you have it!
This thing has come full circle as they say.
Myself and the fantastic group of people which compose the staff really hope to see you there!
*Photo credit: Bas Jan Ader
For this seasons drop I invited Gerald & Fatine to shoot some of the gear. The images are a mix of ss18 Versions, other shop clothing, and Gerald’s own stuff. Not all items are shown here, but the collection includes cut and sewn pieces, along with prints and artisanal tie-dye. One print named “The Rave” by Pascale Mercier and some other print designs by Alexis Coutu-Marion and Myself.
Photos: Fatine Violette-Sabiri
Styling: Gerald Lajoie
Versions: Jonah Leslie
Location: White Wall Studio