Avant Gaudy!

In the ever-changing world of fashion, vintage clothing is becoming more relevant than ever. With this in mind, companies like Avant Gaudy are growing to deliver the best of the past and the present in order to help true trendsetters craft an individualistic style defined by unique, one-of-kind pieces.

I did a little Q&A with Deb Umunnabuike, founder and CEO of Avant Gaudy. See what she had to say about her wonderful vintage e-tailer. Hope you enjoy!

P.S. she gives great tips!

I understand Avant Gaudy is the result of a summer project of sorts. What pushed you over the edge to turn this into a full-fledged business? A little background please :)
Avant Gaudy did begin as a project and also as an opportunity to connect with others over something I was extremely inspired by - fashion. The push came from the positive interaction with people who loved the items we were presenting and who felt we were making a difference.

Why vintage?
Many vintage fans buy vintage because it either represents a link to the past or is eco-friendly. We've taken a different approach at Avant Gaudy, as we see vintage as one of the few ways to construct a truly one-of-a-kind look. Everything old is new again, and more and more retailers (TopShop, Urban Outfitters, American Apparel) are adding vintage pieces to their stores. Forever 21 is almost entirely comprised of vintage-inspired clothing. Our customers are true trendsetters. They may be influenced by trends, but they create their own take on what they see through authentic vintage pieces.

Describe the Avant Gaudy brand. What sets you apart from other vintage e-tailers?
Most sites think of vintage as an artifact. Our fashion philosophy aligns closely with Coco Chanel's:

“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only.
Fashion is in the sky, in the street,
fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening

Our inspirations, from the runway to the Sartorialist, are thoroughly modern. By researching trends full-time, Avant Gaudy gives its customers the best of the past and the present. We portray these trends through vintage clothing and unique pairings. Avant Gaudy really reflects this juxtaposition, and draws urban fashionistas who crave innovative and one-of-a-kind looks that only vintage can provide.

You have a lot of very unique, authentic pieces, where do you find all your goods?
All of our items are sourced from across the country. We have a full-time team of buyers who have purchased items from all over the Midwest and East Coast. Now we're looking to partner with the community by accepting donations of vintage items. For every donated item sold on our site, 10% of the revenue will go to Dress for Success, a non-profit that matches underprivileged women with appropriate careerwear and career resources.

What (or who!) inspires you?
A lot! Runway trends from Dries Van Noten and Marc Jacobs, Women’s Wear Daily, street style, and blogs like the Sartorialist and Hel-looks.com. We refuse to chase trends. That's why we put so much time into research. We really want our customers to be ahead of the curve when it comes to fashion.

What's your favorite piece that you have in store right now?
It's so difficult to pick one. The most unique piece we have is a silver lamé dress that was featured on NotCouture.com. It’s vintage, and combines maxi dress style with the attention-getting fabric that American Apparel is best known for (below).

What's your absolute, ultimate vintage find for your store (or for yourself!)?
Old Lanvin dresses, and patterned, well-tailored vintage blazers for men!

Any tips for fashion lovers looking to incorporate vintage into their existing modern-day wardrobe?
A vintage dress or jumpsuit is a great place to start since it's an outfit in itself. Add a modern blazer or cardigan, a wide belt, funky flats, and you've got a unique outfit that can transition easily from day to night.

Layering is key in order for a look to be eye-catching and detailed. Add leggings underneath a dress (ripped leggings are on trend and can give an edgy look to feminine vintage pieces).

Don't feel that you have to match. Mix black and brown, or add a belt in a contrasting shade in the form of accessories. One of our favorite outfits mixed red, neon yellow, and turquoise (below).

Even something as simple as a colorful vintage scarf could add character to your jeans and tee for a simple yet put together style.

Finally, don't be afraid to modify a garment to suit your taste. We frequently remove the shoulder pads from dresses, and one of our standout pieces is a pair of shorts covered with decorative patches (below).

What advice would you give other young entrepreneurs who are looking to launch their own enterprise?
Extensive research is key. At Avant Gaudy, research can fill half of a workday, but it enables us to form better relationships with our customers and within the fashion community.

Most importantly, follow a business idea that you are passionate about. People are always curious as to how much money a student entrepreneur's business makes per year. In response, I've always said that if it wasn't worth doing, I wouldn't be doing it.

Thanks Deb for the GREAT interview!

Like what you see:

Check out the site.
The shop is fab.
Follow on Twitter.
Read the Avant Gaudy blog.
Fan on Facebook.
See more on Flickr.

{all pictures from Avant Gaudy}


August 6, 2009 at 10:38 AM Ela said...

Thank you for introducing me to this! I love that they are donating 10% to Dress for Success! Great interview!

August 6, 2009 at 11:55 AM Kristin said...

Fab interview! LOVE that lame dress. Now I just need the bod to go with it. Ah ha

August 6, 2009 at 1:54 PM Couture Carrie said...

Fab interview and looks ~ love this new site!


August 6, 2009 at 4:54 PM thischicksgotstyle said...

The first picture is amazing!!
And thanks for your sweet comment!


August 6, 2009 at 5:30 PM LiLu said...

That Maxi dress is RIDICULOUSLY AWESOME!!!

August 6, 2009 at 8:41 PM Sher said...

Great interview! I would feel like a movie star in that gold gown.

August 6, 2009 at 10:02 PM Delectable Swank said...

Great interview! I love all the pieces, especially the gold dress. It's such a gorgeous piece, even though I would have nowhere to wear it! Too bad it would look out of place in a grocery store! : )

August 7, 2009 at 1:33 AM muchlove said...

checking out their site now! they have some really amazing stuff.