October 21, 2014

Behind the Shop: Gravel Ghost Vintage

1970's draped maxi dress from Gravel Ghost Vintage

Luscious faux furs, fringed bustiers, pastel high waist shorts and pin-up style rompers are just a few of the retro finds you’ll uncover perusing the online offerings of Gravel Ghost Vintage, a collaborative effort between two vintage lovers, Daniel and Kat, whose boredom with same-old-same-old style led to their very-addictive etsy shop filled with everything from 1950s party girl pieces to 1970s arena rock chic items and 1980s gothic glamor must-haves.

We recently had an email chat with Kat, who let us in on how she got started, what motivates her to thrift and her thoughts on the fashion scene in San Francisco.

We love the eclectic collection of vintage pieces in your store. How do you find the pieces, and what do you look for?

We get our pieces everywhere: estate sales, thrift stores or often from friends. Vintage clothing almost seems to find us! Our buyer specialist, Dawn Hernandez, hunts for vintage throughout the North Bay Area. She has great taste and a knack for finding gorgeous designer vintage. What I keep my eye out for is unique clothing from any era that I would hope inspire women to get out of mediocre fashion ruts.

Your site says that “With a collective upbringing of urban poverty and suburban boredom…” Can you tell me more about that?

My family grew up poor in SoMa in the 80′s, so my mother would tighten her purse strings by taking me thrifting. She really encouraged me to express my individuality and showed me that cool clothes could be accessible without breaking the bank. My boyfriend, Daniel Nolan, photographer for Gravel Ghost Vintage, grew up in the South Bay. With little else left to do on a weekend in the suburbs, he would peruse garage sales looking for old Nikons and KISS albums. Together we ended up with a massive wardrobe, an insane record collection and a creative sensibility, which enables us to do what we do.

When did you start selling vintage? What inspired you to start your own business?

I started selling vintage clothing in 2007. I felt that starting my own business took a natural course, as it seemed that there was a demand for it. I had people stop me and ask, “where did you get that dress!?” Later realizing that I could perhaps quit my mundane day job and provide vintage clothing to seekers of an eclectic wardrobe, like myself!

What do you think of the San Francisco fashion scene?

Although I appreciate the high fashion scene in San Francisco, I definitely gravitate towards a more individual sense of style that derives from personal taste rather than fashion trends. San Franciscans have a diverse style that varies from district to district. The nonconformist approach seems to contradict itself in that most people here have adopted it. The San Franciscans that stand out to me and inspire me the most are those who take ownership of their style because they have the confidence to do so, no matter how the industry thinks you should dress.

What do you see for the future of Gravel Ghost Vintage? Do you plan on expanding, and how?

It would be amazing to see Gravel Ghost Vintage become a brand and perhaps have a storefront some day. My own personal ambition is to become a wardrobe stylist to artists and musicians, since they are the ones who inspire me. We aim to include stand out pieces in our collection, so we are continually striving to pick up sought-after clothing to inspire creative people the way they inspire us.

1980′s black lace blouse with Victorian-meets-Steampunk puff sleeves

More San Francisco vintage

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Alexandra is a San Francisco writer with a passion for style and creativity. You can find her on Twitter @theTsaritsa

Snap Judgment: Kathleen van der Spek Sweater Dress

Wool tunic dress from Kathleen van der Spek does cozy with a touch of gothic formality, thanks to lace detail that allows the nude modal jersey lining to peek through.

Our very-visual, (almost) chatter-free snap judgment of the day: the delicately feminine and surprisingly cozy black and charcoal sweater dress,$149, hand sewn with lace detail in a wool blend by San Francisco designer Kathleen van der Spek.

Photography courtesy of Kathleen van der Spek

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Snap Judgment: Oh Snap Necklace

Scene, Not Herd's Oh Snap Necklace

Our very-visual, (almost) chatter-free snap judgment of the day: the shutterfly-friendly hand-stamped charm and antique brass chain of  the Oh Snap Camera Necklace, $27, from San Francisco designer Holly Doden’s Scene, Not Herd line. She’ll even personalize a charm just for you.

The charm's flip side calls out a familiar phrase.

Photography courtesy of Scene, Not Herd

Snap Judgment: Prairie Schooner Cocktail Ring

The Prairie Schooner cocktail ring from Drella Jones

Our very-visual, (almost) chatter-free snap judgment of the day: The brass Covered Wagon Cocktail Ring, $11, perfect for the cowgirl or Oregon Trail fanatic in all of us. Inexpensive and fun, this Western-inspired piece is just one of many kitschy-cool items available from the etsy shop of San Francisco-based Drella Jones.

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Alexandra is a San Francisco writer with a passion for style and creativity. You can find her on Twitter @theTsaritsa

San Francisco Style: Fall Fashion’s School Girl Chic

Whether or not you’re headed back to school, fresh takes on studious style go perfectly with fall fashion. Get an Ivy League-inspired look with a preppy plaid wrap skirt, dark brown oxford heels by a San Francisco shoe company and a leather and canvas tote from local label Joshu+Vela.

Vintage Wool Tartan Plaid Wrap Skirt by Elas Vintage Finds

Vintage 60′s Red Shift Suit by Cake Shop Vintage

Dark Oak Waxed Tote by Joshu+Vela

Burgundy Leather Wrap Watch at Azalea Boutique

Lace-Up Oxford Booties by Paulo Shoes

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Photography courtesy of individual retailers