Timeless fashion

Walking around Joo Chiat Road, one of the most charming roads in Singapore, with pastel-colored shophouses and rich heritage, I spotted A Vintage Tale, owned by Azzurra La Mantia.

A Vintage Tale is the most colorful and stylish boutique on the road, with a collection of clothing and accessories from the 1950s to the 1990s. 

Can you tell us about you and your background and what brought you here?

I am Italian, 38 years old, with a background in luxury fashion. I have always been involved in retail and visual merchandising. I moved to Singapore in 2018 to follow my husband.

What led you to the name A Vintage Tale?

It was in 2016, when I was still living between Milan and Bahrain, from my great passion for vintage and my dream of collecting unique and timeless clothing and accessories that reflected my taste in the hope that anyone could find inspiration from the collection. 

Azzurra La Mantia

How do you choose the items for your boutique?

My selection is personal. It represents me. I always choose garments that I would wear and that I would like to have in my closet. I really love 1970s patterns, so I often select from colors and prints, but shapes are also important. I find the 1980s very fun and revolutionary … and, of course, the 1960s!

What does beauty mean to you?

Beauty is everything that gives me a feeling of harmony and balance as well as a sense of well-being and order.

Is there any designer in particular you like?

I'm very proud of Made in Italy and Italian designers. In particular, I love the synthesis of Prada and the lightheartedness of Miu Miu, but also Gucci; and if I look at the past, without a doubt, Franco Moschino and Valentino.

How did you develop a passion for vintage?

I grew up in a family of merchants. In the 1980s, my maternal grandmother owned a women's clothing store and worked with Max Mara. I would visit her boutique and dream, unaware I would make that dream a reality 30 years later.

Why should we buy vintage clothing?

By buying vintage, we contribute to a circular economy that I hope will, in the coming years, take over from that economy of waste representative (but not only) of the fast fashion industry. We think more about quantity than quality, without considering the impact this has on the environment as well as on society.

Does owning a vintage boutique make you feel like an eco-warrior?

Behind my choices, there is a story, which also reflects what I have learned during my years of studying and building my career. Having opened a vintage store identifies me in the circle of that entrepreneurship that to this day tries to get out of a big system and invests in research, in the preciousness of materials and in uniqueness. Our future probably lies in reuse. Embracing vintage could reduce the effects of climate change. 

What is your perception of millennials toward vintage? Does your clientele include youth? Do you see an opportunity for fast fashion to slow down to reduce climate change?

Millennials are passionate about vintage and curious to rediscover their grandmothers’ trunks, where they often find real treasures. A Vintage Tale includes a very diverse clientele, both young people in their early 20s and even older people, all united in the search for the unique, special, original item. There is an opportunity, or perhaps more than one: some companies have already taken steps in this regard, using recycled fibers and materials; others collect used items and in return issue a voucher to spend later.

In any case, there is still a long way to go for fast fashion companies, as often the same dress produced by two different labels can be found online. This means that the turnover is immense, and kilometers of fabric are used to cover the demand for those products.

The real revolution should start with us, the private consumers, changing our habits and consumption, which will in turn change the manufacturers' offerings.

Images provided by Azzurra La Mantia