For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb
Psalm 139:13

Monday 10 January 2011

being stung by the Clever Nettle

Anja Verdugo, of Portland, Oregon, may have a taste for the classic, but it seems she’s in fact a very modern lady. Not only does this fashionista deal in vintage clothing, but she’s an artist and blogger to boot. Her blog, Clever Nettle is beautiful, she is featured in Simone Werle’s latest world fashion book, and her online vintage store continues to flourish. I spoke to her to find out just why vintage style is such a big deal right now.

How did vintage become part of your life, and what made you decide to set up the store?
I’ve been thrifting since I was a kid; I have funny memories of being in shops with my friend and being so jealous if she would find something cool before me. I'm a vintage hunter at heart, so when I was fired from my last lame job (Nov 2007) I turned to the thrift stores and the internet to make a living.

It's great to hear about your thrifting memories! What's been your favourite vintage find?
I get really excited when I find old Odd Fellows or Masonic paraphernalia. Antique diaries are really amazing too, or letters. I have a stack of love letters from the 1940's that are really interesting. I got them at the Goodwill bins, which is like a giant Goodwill where everything is in bins and you pay by the pound.What have you got your eyes peeled for in 2011?
I want to find things with soft fabrics and nice neutral colours. More 1920's dresses always! I might try selling more shoes, but that's not for sure. I have bad luck with shoes.

You sell some of your own original artwork in your Etsy store, and Clever Nettle features some beautiful photography. What can you tell me about your artwork, the way you work and what inspires you?
I work in the worst way, which is that I have a really hard time physically starting art projects. I still have a long way to go in terms of getting what's in my head to appear on paper, or film for that matter. When I paint, the colours are in control. I'm still figuring out how to be the boss of my camera. I have this problem where I want to learn to make everything, instead of just focusing on developing one skill, so sometimes one medium gets forgotten for long stretches of time. Art guilt.

Excitingly, you were featured in Simone Werle's Style Diaries: World fashion from Berlin to Tokyo, so your style has made an impact. Why do you think vintage style still has such resonance today?
It was cool to show up in a book, kind of surreal! Fashion is constantly recycling itself, so the shapes and concepts of past looks will always resurface, over and over again. In terms of longevity, a lot of old garments were so well-made that they are still wearable today, and are better quality than a lot of what's being mass-produced now. Even if you don't like vintage style, you can't deny that the clothes are withstanding the test of time. I think style bloggers have done a lot for the new vintage world because they're constantly proving that you can buy vintage or second-hand items to either re-create fancy high end looks, or to put together something totally unique, while also saving a ton of money and hopefully getting clothing that will last. Vintage is definitely not a trend that is going to die.

As well as being a money saver, vintage textiles can be seen as a greener and more ethical option too. How far do you think vintage can go in fighting against 'throwaway' fashion?
I think that the vintage trend helps and hurts this issue at the same time. On one hand, it's great because more and more people are getting awesome quality, unique items for their wardrobes, but on the other hand big companies are being very inspired by vintage clothing, which means they're producing tons of low quality vintage reproductions and those things just don't last!


penny for your thoughts . . .

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