WRITER: Nadia Michel
Now online, William Vintage offers high-end vintage fashion to the world. This new brand of luxury is a first of its kind.
If you haven’t already heard of William Banks-Blaney, you’re most probably familiar with his wares. Better known as ‘The King of Vintage’ to his loyal legion of stars like Victoria Beckham, Rihanna and Amal Clooney, the former history of art major, who started his career in furniture and interior design, has turned his William Vintage label into a global reference.
That’s because as of May 2016, the brand began selling worldwide through a new e-commerce website that takes the original London shop, an off-the-beaten-path boutique with a cult following, into cyberspace. “The approach we took is the same,” says Banks-Blaney of his new venture that places the company’s entire inventory of pristine, high quality and often haute couture pieces spanning the 1920s to the early 1990s online. “In the shop we have white floors and white walls – our aesthetic is very much contemporary.”
William Banks-Blaney, the founder of William Vintage.
With mainstream fashion no longer offering any exclusivity and high street fashion becoming too generic, it’s little wonder that vintage is more popular than ever with the fashion elite. What’s more, with the cyclical nature of trends, vintage has also become easier to integrate into a modern look. In fact, Banks-Blaney encourages the mixing and matching of vintage and contemporary pieces. “I don’t like dress-up. Think of vintage as just a great piece of clothing.” Moreover, vintage has the advantage of solving another increasingly common complaint. “We’re in an intense throw-away period. Before, things used to be built to last, there was an integrity of construction. Vintage garments have a proven track-record of standing the test of time, unlike today, when things look tattered after six months.”
William Vintage enjoyed a few successful pop-ups around London, in places like Browns and Selfridges but the company has primarily managed to prosper with just a single physical store, in Marylebone. Now, their new e-commerce site will allow them to flaunt their wears (which all adhere to Banks-Blaney’s fundamental trinity: quality, condition and relevance) to a global audience.
Through its digital platform, William Vintage makes shopping vintage couture as easy as can be. Guest curators guide your browsing in what might seem a somewhat unfamiliar territory, as does the ‘As Seen On’ section, which shows what the stars chose and serves as inspiration. And as a plus, each item is photographed on a model to properly show the tailoring. There’s also free worldwide shipping and returns. “We wanted to remove all the reasons not to buy vintage,” explains Banks-Blaney. And with over 1,000 couture pieces including coats, dresses and gowns from Balmain, Balenciaga, Chanel, Christian Dior, Givenchy, Grès, Halston, Alexander McQueen, Thierry Mugler, Poiret, Schiaparelli and Yves Saint Laurent, we can’t think of any reason at all.