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Puttin’ on the glitz: 1980s-fashion shop Las Vintage opens in Edmonton
Las Vintage, a collaboration between Rosalyn Lazaruk (Tipsy Palm), Rylea Wissink (Rylea Coyote Vintage) and Caitlin Varrin (Lawless Vintage), opened June 8 in Edmonton as part of the Vignettes Brick & Mortar Festival. Photo: Las Vintage/Magic Hour Creative

Puttin’ on the glitz: 1980s-fashion shop Las Vintage opens in Edmonton


Edmonton goes glam with the addition of ’80s-loving pop-up shop Las Vintage

Ed. note: This article was updated June 8, 2022 to reflect the store opening. It was originally published Dec. 9, 2021. The pop-up ran for three months and closed at the end of August 2022.

Edmonton’s vintage scene just got a little more glamorous with the long-awaited addition of Las Vintage, a 1980s-fashion pop-up shop in the city’s downtown core.

The shoulder pad–studded store — a collaboration between local vintage shop owners Rosalyn Lazaruk (Tipsy Palm), Rylea Wissink (Rylea Coyote Vintage) and Caitlin Varrin (Lawless Vintage) — officially opened its doors on June 8.

It’s part of the latest iteration of Vignettes, which has paired makers and designers to produce temporary artistic installations in various locations around Edmonton since 2016.

After a year’s hiatus due to the pandemic, the Vignettes Design Series is returning, this time partnered with the Downtown Business Association on a “Brick & Mortar” festival concept that aims to rejuvenate the city core after COVID-19 restrictions shuttered storefronts.

The event is giving small businesses the chance to set up temporary shop in a communal retail space — the main floor of Capital Apartments on 108 Street NW. While the storefronts were expected to open in December 2021, an unexpected series of building repairs delayed the opening until this month.

A front desk with modern oval overhead light fixtures and a dramatic patterned wall consisting of white, blue, red, and dusty rose shapes outlined in black.
With a booming reseller industry in Edmonton, the Las Vintage team is considerate when it comes to sourcing, ensuring they pick up a selection of sizes while leaving behind plenty of options for specialty shops. “There’s an ecosystem going on here that we have to be mindful of,” says Rylea. Photo: Las Vintage/Magic Hour Creative

Vignettes has constructed a gallery and retail area for artists, and welcomed a breakfast cafe, wine bar, bitters retailer and fragrance brand. A shared 2,000-square-foot space houses Las Vintage and Alexander & Rose, a mid-century-modern vintage decor and fashion shop.

The delineation between the two vintage shops is unmissable, says Caitlin. “Look to the left and it’s 1959; look to the right and it’s 1989.”

Vignettes will host events throughout the Brick & Mortar Festival to drive traffic to the storefronts, and Las Vintage plans to host its own in-shop events on fashion-related topics such as sewing and repurposing. A date for a fashion show will be announced soon.

“We’re still growing our businesses, so it’s a really interesting opportunity for us,” says Rosalyn.

Puttin’ on the glitz

Rosalyn, who is also an interior designer and owner of Wicket Blue Interiors, was first approached by Vignettes founder Leigh Wright in August 2021 about the possibility of joining this year’s lineup with an installation for Tipsy Palm.

“I knew that I couldn’t or didn’t want to do it alone,” says Rosalyn. “What Vignettes brings is something that’s over the top. You get to really put your big crazy ideas out there because you’re always partnered with an artist and a maker.”

Rosalyn thought Rylea and Caitlin would be the perfect partners to collaborate with on the Vignettes installation. “Our three aesthetics complement each other, as does how we navigate what we want to do in the sustainable vintage world,” she says.

Racks of vintage clothing in pink, blue, green, and red next to a framed 1980s portrait of a woman with red lips displayed on a salmon-coloured wall.
Las Vintage aims to maintain “good prices that reflect the garment, the quality and the value that we're bringing you in the service, but that also allow you to add these vintage pieces to your collection,” says Rosalyn. Photo: Las Vintage/Magic Hour Creative

From the matchup emerged an Eighties explosion: Las Vintage brings the Golden Girls-meets-Miami Vice vibe of Tipsy Palm together with the Dynasty-inspired finds of Rylea Coyote Vintage and the Dallas-era style of Lawless Vintage to offer a gender-inclusive shopping experience with sizes running from XS to 4X.

Las Vintage “invites people to think differently about where their clothes come from and what their individual identity and style is, and to feel comfortable to play with their individual expression and their identity,” explains Rylea.

“One of the main pillars of what we do is really try to build an inclusive and safe space for people when they’re shopping and challenge these norms of retail. We’ll never tell anybody what to wear or prescribe to them what we think they should do. We’re simply facilitators, and help them to redefine their relationship to clothing in a way that they feel really good about when they leave.”

Bringing back the mall

The team wanted the design of the shop itself to match the mood of the clientele — and the clothes.

“If you look at the way that our racks are curated, we try to create these colour palettes, but every piece is also art itself,” says Rylea. “We’re trying to make the clothes also part of the way that we present the space. It is a bit of a colour shock. You don’t really know where to look!”

Merchandising the garments to emulate a boutique rather than stuffing them on racks like they’d be in a thrift store also helps to take the stigma out of vintage shopping, says Rosalyn. “It’s easier for people to shop,” she says. “When they walk in and there’s one of everything, it can be very overwhelming.”

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With 800 square feet of sellable space, dramatic high ceilings and front-window displays, the Las Vintage shop is “like nothing we would have been able to be in on our own,” says Rosalyn.

“The first concept that I approached the girls with was much softer — a lot of curvilinear lines and a lot of rattan and lots of caning,” says Rosalyn. “It was a nod to a softer aesthetic from the ’80s, because that’s definitely kind of my aesthetic. But then as we made our Pinterest boards, it evolved.” They commissioned local artist Rahmaan Hameed to create two paintings for the shop as an updated take on the iconic style of Patrick Nagel. Photo: Las Vintage/Magic Hour Creative

The team worked with a number of architects, designers and production staff to get the space ready for retail. A small budget meant the heavy design lifting came through in painted elements, such as a large wall mural, and a tile mosaic decorating the cash desk.

Several sponsors helped to complete the project, including Cloverdale Paint, Russell Hendrix, Black Dog Print Co., Edmonton City Centre and Architectural Clearing House, from which the team sourced sustainable finishes.

Thirdspace Design Group developed the brand identity, which evokes the Art Deco Revival of the 1980s and the neon lights of Sin City, and local artist Rahmaan Hameed created two custom paintings referencing the iconic 1980s “Nagel Woman” by Patrick Nagel.

“We talked a lot about Miami. We talked a lot about Vegas,” says Rosalyn of the design inspiration. “We talked a lot about what the malls felt like back in the day and how they were such a fun shopping experience.”

Vintage clothing racks and globe lighting reflected in a large vertical mirror outlined in pink squiggles.
“Many people want to shop vintage and they want to shop secondhand and they want to be thrifters, but it’s just not in their wheelhouse. So we’re going to do that work for you,” says Lazaruk of Las Vintage’s custom sourcing offering. Photo: Las Vintage/Magic Hour Creative

Pivoting with purpose

The team pushed to have the pop-up ready in time for a ticketed sneak preview gala held on Nov. 13. With about 200 people in attendance, the gala set the tone for what was expected to be a busy first month in business.

But with the building’s HVAC and electrical systems repairs delaying the opening by several months, there was some unexpected downtime between the gala and the opening on June 8.

Rylea took the time to launch a website and Rosalyn ran her retail location for Tipsy Palm on 124 Street. Caitlin concentrated on styling work and collaborated with Rylea, who also offers styling services, on a shoot for EDify, a local lifestyle magazine.

Businesses are used to rolling with unexpected changes after the past two years, says Rylea. “We’re very good at adapting and figuring out new ways to do things.”

Case in point: in early 2021, she and Caitlin, who co-owns Lawless Vintage with Danielle Annicchiarico (currently on maternity leave), created an Instagram-based virtual market for local vintage sellers called Monday Night Market. The idea was to increase sales for web-only shops and the bricks-and-mortar stores that were suddenly selling online because of lockdowns.

Portrait of three women; one is wearing a black-and-white patterned dress and sunglasses, one has a champagne-coloured dress with a tan belt and pearls, and one wears a sand-coloured turtleneck with flamingo pink trousers.
The Las Vintage founders, from left: Rylea Wissink (Rylea Coyote Vintage), Rosalyn Lazaruk (Tipsy Palm) and Caitlin Varrin (Lawless Vintage). “I’ve mostly been focusing on styling for the last year,” says Caitlin, who also runs her own design studio, Magic Hour Creative. “It’s nice to be inspired by my colleagues and in the same space with them every day.” Photo: Las Vintage/Magic Hour Creative

“Online is just the reality of how people shop now,” says Rosalyn, who met Caitlin and Rylea through the Monday Night Market. “The small business and the vintage business need to navigate that and keep pushing through that even though we all don’t love it. It is so nice for vintage to be able to have somewhere for people to come and try on.”

They also took their pre-opening time to focus on their service offering, which includes custom sourcing and referrals. If they can’t find or don’t stock an item a client is looking for, they’ll recommend someone who can.

That, coupled with their commitment to accessibility on price, is what keeps clients coming back, says Caitlin. With the Las Vintage team finally able to throw open their fitting-room doors, so will the in-store experience, the team says.

“As a small business, it’s impossible to stock everything. I don’t think I’ve ever had a negative run-in with someone who was upset that I don’t have something,” she says. “They know there isn’t a size run of this. I wish! But there’s just one.”

Says Rosalyn: “That’s the brilliance of it, too.”

Shop at Las Vintage Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 12 pm - 6 pm MT and Saturdays 11 am - 5 pm MT. The shop will be open later during private shopping and small events.

For the latest updates on the Vignettes Brick & Mortar Festival , follow @vignettesyeg and @lasvintage.yeg on Instagram.

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