Noi vogliamo dimostrare che ci si può vestire bene senza comprare abiti nuovi, spendendo pochissimo e utilizzando l’enorme massa di indumenti che esiste già al di fuori dei circuiti commerciali consueti. La principale differenza tra noi e i negozi vintage che ovviamente esistono anche a Torino è che noi non siamo un negozio e quindi i prezzi sono molto più bassi, chi viene può chiederci aiuto nella scelta senza timore e si può cercare e curiosare senza dover comprare nulla.
English: ArmuaR, the (sustainable) wardrobe of wonders!
We write with pleasure about vintage and second-hand items, in an age in which the problem of the amount of new clothes we buy and the ones we throw away has taken on embarrassing dimensions (we buy 80 billion new garments every year worldwide and wear them on average from 7 to 10 times). Very willingly then we tell of beautiful sustainable initiatives, such as that of ArmuaR by Alessandra and Roberta, who thus present themselves: “We are two old friends, always fond of flea markets, clothes and vintage objects“.
From the passion for used and vintage, Alessandra and Roberta have created a beautiful project that involves clothing, accessories and stylish objects for the home.
How did ArmuaR begin?
“It has always been our custom to buy used clothing and exchange clothes with sisters, mothers, aunts and friends. A few years ago we decided to spread this practice and at the same time to empty our closets a bit by organizing meetings in our house in which to sell our clothes at very reasonable prices.
We created a page on facebook and someone arrived… After some time we found a basement under the house and about 4 years ago we made it our ArmuaR: it’s a basement room without even heating, but we can’t afford anything else, and we have furnished it with furniture and objects of recovery, without buying anything”.
Would you tell us more about ArmuaR?
“On Saturday we welcome those who want to come and visit us; we sell used clothes that come from our closets and from the closets of friends and relatives who give them to us, objects and bijoux, all at very small prices, because this activity is not our job (in life we both have two ‘real’ jobs), but it is a hobby that combines our passions for clothes and fashion, for vintage, for books (clothes are usually photographed with a book) and the proceeds from the sale are used to cover the local expenses”.
I saw beautiful sweaters, jackets, trench coats, necklaces… How do clothes and accessories arrive to ArmuaR?
“It happens more and more often, as they find out, that ArmuaR’s friends bring us their clothes, accessories and bijoux that they no longer use and even happened to offer us an entire wardrobe (an aunt or grandmother who is not there more and the house is to be emptied). Then there are the continuous rackings from our closets and those of the family (sisters, mothers, aunts). Some pieces are from our mothers, others were purchased over time in markets and shops during our travels; a good part, recently acquired, comes from the wardrobe of a lady from Turin: thanks to facebook we have been contacted by the heirs and we have recovered wonders”.
I also saw marvellous evening dresses!
“We have a collection of vintage ’50s/’70s evening dresses that we rent for special occasions (parties, weddings, shows …) and we used for photo shoots (rarely, because unfortunately the time to devote to these activities is very little).
Thanks to this small project we have met many people and some now buy clothes only from us. As you know, the culture of second-hand clothes was not so widespread in Italy until recently, the concept of second-hand items encountered many resistances and in Turin also vintage is not as appreciated as elsewhere.
We want to show that we can dress well without buying new clothes, spending very little and using the huge mass of clothing that already exists outside the usual commercial circuits. The main difference between us and the vintage shops that obviously also exist in Turin is that we are not a shop and therefore the prices are much lower, those who come can ask us for help in the choice without fear and we can search and browse without having to buy anything.
We are not even interested in the vintage of designer and precious pieces, because the prices would be different and our goal is another.
The same goes for the rental: it doesn’t make sense to buy an elegant dress that will be worn only once and never again”.
Why do you think it is not so easy to spread the purchase of second-hand items?
“There are cultural resistance, lack of habit and lack of knowledge. There are those who think of worn or outmoded garments in the second-hand word. Dedicated shops are mostly visited by second-hand enthusiasts, also because prices are not so cheap. In the markets you have to know how to choose, “having a sharp eye” and the patience to look, perhaps in the cold or in the heat and without being able to try. As far as vintage is concerned, many associate it with ‘grandma’s’ garments or too particular looks, while a vintage piece worn together with ‘current’ clothes can be a very elegant and modern choice“.
What do you think is the beauty of vintage and second-hand?
“For the vintage, ours is a passion: the clothes, the objects and the accessories of the past have a unique charm, the materials (fabrics and buttons) are generally precious, the patterns and the particular models, the clothes are often tailored, because it was customary to have them made by the seamstress. The vintage garments are unique, evoke a time and a story, aesthetically they are beautiful. The beauty of second-hand, on the other hand, is mostly an economic issue: if you can dress in clothes that are in excellent condition and that we like, but cost a third of new ones, why not do it? Obviously then there is the ecological discourse. The production of clothing is quantitatively impressive and environmental and ethical issues are linked to it, which fortunately are beginning to be known. Trying to buy less and to reuse and enhance what already exists can be a small contribution to solving a problem that affects us all”.
Your favorite vintage dress?
“Impossible to choose one. We love the clothes of the ’40s, even if eaten by moths, but with a unique cut, as well as the ’50s cocktail dresses or some lurex ’60s mini dresses, the floral and psychedelic fantasies of the ’70s, the shoulder straps years ’80. And each dress evokes a memory, a film, a book”.
Do we find something for man too?
“Exclusively for women, rarely for men, but they are exceptions (we have two tuxedos for hire). Unfortunately we do not have the space to expand the offer and our exchange channels are in any case exclusively female”.
I saw plates, porcelain, cutlery, cups, wonderful and elegant glasses… Do you also rent table accessories and furnishing accessories?
“We also rent furnishing accessories. We happened to rent items to set the table for theme parties, for example”.
ArmuaR is not just a store, right?
“When we can, we organise small events by hosting readings, painting workshops (space is small, but few are feasible) and even theatrical performances”.
An initiative that you have organized?
“We have twice hosted the theatrical performance ‘Sight unseen’ by and with Chiara Cardea and Silvia Mercuriati. The ArmuaR turned out to be a perfect box in which to represent the affairs of Irma and Nora and evoke their idols – writers, poets, musicians, artists – which are also our own. The meeting with Chiara and Silvia and their show was love at first sight. We also hosted twice the poet-painter Nadia Sponzilli, who recited her poems accompanied by Angela Alferi’s accordion”.
What do you like most about this project?
“Spreading a positive idea of used and circular recovery; getting to know people we discover sharing our own passions and values; when we can, in our own small way, contribute to artistic and cultural projects with our clothes and accessories or just by making our space available.
Then there is the more ‘playful’ and creative part, which is that of handling our beloved objects and clothes, photographing them, arranging them in the ArmuaR, spending some time together (always too little), because this project would not be never born if we weren’t one in support of the other, doing it alone wouldn’t have the same meaning and wouldn’t be fun anyway”.
If you want to see the wonders of ArmuaR live and buy some unique clothes, Alessandra and Roberta are in Turin, Via Principessa Clotilde 21, and on their facebook page ArmuaR.