A Talk with the Founders of American Brit
We love vintage fashion here at DC on Heels, so we were delighted when Nia Barge and A’Leighsha Butler from American Brit Vintage agreed to an interview! Read what they have to say about starting a boutique, their favorite places to shop and the influence of London style.
DC on Heels: Tell us a little bit about American Brit Vintage. Where did the idea come from and what steps did you take to make this dream a reality?
Nia Barge and A’Leighsha Butler: American Brit Vintage is a new collection of vintage clothing and accessories from the United States for women and men. We carry vintage pieces from the 1980s and 1990s — decades in fashion characterized by truly fun trends such as bright colors, bold prints, shoulder pads and scrunchies! We source our beautiful clothes from all over the United States, searching for truly unique pieces that speak to the spirit of the brand. All items are hand-picked and taken through a selection process before being included in the collection. We firmly believe in celebrating the uniqueness that makes you an individual.
American Brit is a lifestyle. It represents leaving home to chase your dreams, finding a home in new place, but all the while never forgetting your roots. It’s a mindset. It’s a feeling of being wonderfully unsettled and perfectly confused. It’s finding art everywhere you go and choosing expression in everything you do — even down to the clothes you wear … especially in the clothes you wear.
The idea to start American Brit Vintage came about through the experiences of two best friends moving to London to study theater. We completely fell in love with life in London and especially the fashion. We were shopping literally ALL THE TIME! When we returned to the states years later, people constantly complimented our clothing and remarked on how our style changed. Within the last year or so, we’ve pretty much divided our time between the two countries, and our close friends and family asked us to bring back clothes for them. Soon it dawned on us that we could share our amazing finds with not just our circle, but to everyone!
The first step we took to make our dream a reality was to commit fully to the idea. This may sound obvious, but it takes a big step of faith to move from just having an idea in your heart to actually saying “No this isn’t just an idea, but something tangible that we are going to make happen.”
The next steps were probably the most fun, and those were gathering the merchandise that we wanted to include in our opening collection and taking photos of these items to post to our website. We wanted to make sure that every piece we found spoke to the spirit of our brand.
DCOH: What is it about British fashion/style that you find influential? And how is it different from American style?
NB&AB: What we love most about British fashion/style is that it is theatrical! Whether you are influenced by the posh refined side of British fashion or the grunge hipster style, there is something for everyone. London is a melting pot, and therefore the fashion is as well. A lot of British fashion has roots in other cultures such as African and Indian. In London, we felt there were no limits or boundaries and that we were completely free to make bold exciting fashion choices. We feel that British culture and style is also influenced by American trends as well. In actuality, a lot of vintage shops in London buy some of their merchandise from America! What we discovered with American Brit Vintage was how to fuse our American sense of style with the elements of British fashion that influenced us.
DCOH: Where do you find these one-of-a-kind pieces? And what are your favorite places to shop? (For me, personally, I love Portobello Road Market in London.)
NB&AB: We are like detectives when it comes to finding pieces for American Brit Vintage, meaning we leave no stone unturned! From large scale vintage conventions to personal closets, we shop in the United States as well as in the United Kingdom to gather a true collection of vintage pieces from both countries.
In London, one of our favorite areas to shop and hang out in is East London, specifically markets in Shordetich, Hackney, Bethnel Green and Bricklane.
DCOH: Any favorite vintage shops in the D.C. area?
NB&AB: We truly love all vintage shops in the D.C. area because we really believe you can find something special in ANY shop!
Learn more about this fabulous boutique and shop unique items at www.americanbritvintage.com. DC on Heels readers can receive a 25 percent discount on any purchase until Jan 1., 2014. Enter the discount code SASSY at checkout to received the discount.
Erica Moody is a Louisiana-born writer who’s called D.C. home since 2010. In addition to fashion writing, she covers social events, edits The Citron Review literary journal and is working on a novel. Erica holds an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University.