Talk about the first time you learned about fashion?
Meika Franz: This is a tough question! I can’t pinpoint an exact first time, but my first memories of loving clothing go back to pre-kindergarten. I remember my mom taking me shopping for school clothes, and trying on my outfits and modeling them all. Clothes and fashion quickly became a passion. When I was a teenager in the ’90s I became obsessed with fashion magazines. [But] I found it to be so unattainable and expensive and borderline depressing. It was liberating when I discovered thrift and vintage and the ability to create my own style on a budget. It was also rewarding from a creative point of view as I could create my own looks instead of being told what to wear. I eventually found personal style to be much more important to me than fashion.
When something gets old, people tend to throw it away. Why do you feel it’s important to keep older pieces and vintage alive?
Vintage clothing was made so much better than today’s throwaway fast fashion. The fabrics, colors, details and care that went into making and creating the clothes are just some of the reasons I feel vintage should be treasured. Vintage clothing also carries a history and, with that, a nostalgia for the past and what life it might have led. I love the idea of mending and saving a garment and each time this is done, it is given a new life. Of course, there is also the environmental factor – creating less waste, recycling and reusing.
Meika, you’ve also taught classes in sewing. It seems to be a dying art. Why do you think it’s important to know this skill?
Mending and sewing gives new life to the old and makes it new again. The passion with sewing began when I was a teenager. I would go to thrift shops and find fun prints and fabrics I liked and resize and redesign them so that they’d fit me. I loved having something one-of-a-kind that no one else had. Also, a lot of vintage pre-1960s was custom-made so larger inseams would be left in a garment to allow for sizing up and down as weights fluctuate. Being able to sew also means that simple alternations such as hemming a dress or bringing up the sleeves can make a perfect fit. Well-tailored clothing is something else, [and] that is very hard to find today in fashion. If more people knew how to sew and mend clothing, perhaps we would have less waste.
Let’s talk about the eco-friendly aspect of vintage. What are your views on it as a greener way of living?
Living “green” is definitely a way of life for us, and we try to make conscious decisions in all aspects of our life that can contribute to more sustainable living, from the food we eat and products we buy. Buying vintage and secondhand is absolutely the best thing we can do for our environment. Fast fashion is the second-dirtiest industry after big oil, which may come as a surprise to people. Toxic chemicals are being leached from factories into our water supplies and atmosphere. Textile and clothing waste is filling up landfills and that’s not even considering the working conditions and pay that people are getting for making these garments. If you’re going to shop new, people should do some research into the companies they’re buying from and find out how ethical their practices are. There are some great companies out there creating sustainable slow fashion that will be the vintage of the future.
What’s your favorite era of fashion to dress in? Why?
Meika: If I had to choose a favorite era I would say the 1930s as it’s a decade of glamour, femininity, edgy novelty prints and details. I love the hard and soft, and designers, such as Elsa Schiaparelli who really pushed the boundaries of fashion.
Warren: Personally I love clothing from all eras and can appreciate different styles from any time period. On any day, I’m usually wearing something from the ’40s, ’50s, ’60s and the ’80s, mixed with some more recent finds and purchases. I draw from a disparate array of influences often associated with music, art and youth culture – the beatniks of the 1950s, greaser and rockabilly culture, the first wave of mods from the early ’60s and Ivy League American clothing from the same era, ’60s Jamaican rude boy style, Andy Warhol/Velvet Underground-era NYC, skinhead fashions of the late ’60s, the first wave of punk in the late 1970s, 1980s independent alternative music styles.
What inspired you to open Another Man’s Treasure in Jersey City?
After working in vintage stores in London and New York, opening our own vintage shop became the obvious next step. We were living here in Jersey City, and it made sense to contribute to our neighborhood as well as it being somewhere we could afford to start a business at that time.
You’ve had shops in different parts of Jersey City over the past decade. How has the culture in the city changed since you first opened your doors?
The culture in Jersey City has definitely changed in the 12 years since we opened. You could always see it was heading in a different direction, although it was hard to pinpoint exactly what that direction was. One of the many reasons for moving from a back street to a more prominent location was that we wanted to help preserve small independent businesses and a creative spirit as the future of the city. To some extent we, along with many other businesses, have succeeded in keeping it an interesting neighborhood. And hopefully, it won’t lose all its personality, diversity and flavor. Inevitably when a neighborhood gentrifies at the speed in which Jersey City has and is, some people and businesses will be displaced and disgruntled and there is always good and bad points to this process. What has remained though is a neighborhood and community committed to supporting local businesses and organizations, and a city that tries its best to promote this.
And how has that affected your business?
We have been fortunate to be able to grow with the city. We are not a business for everyone and operate in somewhat of a niche market. However, we have a wide-ranging appeal as far as vintage shops go and a product price point for pretty much any budget. Having bargains and affordability has always been important to us and has been the foundation of what we do. However, we can now also offer a higher-end product that was not always understood when we first started. For many years, we had a private vintage showroom where we held on to these higher priced items for appointments and vintage trade shows. We now can keep all items in the shop together and truly have something for everyone. This keeps it interesting for us as buyers, as it’s our passion to find the rare and more collectible pieces.
What are some of the biggest memories you have at Another Man’s Treasure?
We have so many incredible and wonderful memories from over the years! Some of our biggest memories are those of our grand openings for each location! Our last move to Montgomery Street was also our 10 year anniversary. And we had a fantastic event, which included many of the people who helped make Another Man’s Treasure a success over that past decade. We have also had some wonderful events such as bands who have played in the store, book signings and even a pop-up opera event, which was incredible! There have been countless touching moments with customers, brides and grooms, first-time vintage shoppers, prom shoppers along with TV show filmings, celebrity moments and so on.
You’re always working on different projects in and out of Jersey City. What do you have coming up?
We keep ourselves busy! Next month, you can find us at A Current Affair – at Industry City, Brooklyn. We are also coming up on 12 years in business so are preparing to celebrate with our costumers. You can also find us vending at other places around New York City, such as the upcoming June Vintage @ Coterie and Manhattan Vintage Clothing Shows. We are also heading into our outdoor shopping season and will be hitting lots of antique and vintage markets across the east coast!