Interview with vintage Barbara Por Hrovat

Ljubljana has a new vintage shop on Gosposka ulica, in the old city center, where it belongs. Between old buildings and important institutions, such as National Library and Philharmony of Ljubljana.

The shop is full of different vintage. You can find some unique pieces from 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 60’s and 70’s and a lot of great designers stuff like Ferre, Gucci, Claude Montana, Dior. The owners of the shop are two divas, who are the best combination of Yin and Jang imaginable. Barbara, a blond  who speaks great English, because she lived in Canada and Kristina, black, and full of memories of old grandma closets. We were talking on a sunny afternoon in their lovely shop in Ljubljana.

Lublana: How come you speak in the middle of Ljubljana with such a lovely American accent?

Barbara: I was raised in Canada. I was an infant when we immigrated to Canada. I met a Slovene in 1989 that I then married. He didn’t want to move to Canada so I’ve moved back to Slovenia.


Lublana: How did you get the idea of having a Vintage shop in Ljubljana?

Barbara: I came to Slovenia in 1992 and started working in the field of real estate in 1994 which I also did in Canada as General Director of Real Estate for Goodyear Canada Inc. At that time I didn’t think about a vintage in Slovenia it was  a concept as we know it today also just starting in other parts of the world. I did have ideas about catalogue sales as well as outlets centers, however didn’t pursue it and stayed with what I knew. I like fashion, I like shopping and every time I would return home to Canada, I found   more and more vintage stores opening up in addition to charity shops which I was already familiar with as well as consignment stores with high end merchandise.  These consignment stores are filled with high end merchandise that woman have worn once, twice and are practically new. Shopping is a big pastime in North America and if you have good financial resources many closet can be found with clothes never worn some still displaying the original tags that the owner has decided that it is no longer the latest trend of just simply has changed her mind about liking it. Whenever I  travel I look for second hand or vintage stores. Second hand here has a different meaning than in Canada,  in Canada I rarely shopped for new furniture. I frequented  garage sales for bargains as well as interesting/eclectic pieces.   Antique markets and auctions were often out of my price range but interesting and worth visiting. There is a store called The Elegant garage sale, where the furniture comes from estates whose heirs are not interested and are happy for someone to clear out the property.  We would be happy to provide this service in Slovenia as well.  High end designer furnishing are often out of most peoples price range and there are those who are not interested in the affordable furniture available so an eclectic style was born. Decorating your house becomes a hobby buying and selling things when you decide to change the style see something you like better or just get bored. My problem is always that I have a hard time parting with many of the things I have collected over the years.


Lublana: What about clothes, you can find them on garage sales together with furniture?

Barbara: Sometimes you can find clothes at garage sales, however mostly children’s clothes, charity  shops have been around much longer and are a better place to find clothes. Clothes tend to be more personal and people do not like to display then and prefer to donate then anonymously  You can find some interesting find but be prepared to dig and riffle through piles and piles of clothes, etc. I once can across a Hermes scarf for $5.00.   The 90’s was the start of Vintage as a fashion trend with many actresses, entertainers and models wearing Vintage at different events.


Lublana: What you can say about people in Ljubljana, do they love vintage, is vintage getting more and more popular?

Barbara: Slowly but surely. A lot of our customers are knowledgeable about vintage. Our store has been well received and many are excited that we exist. They know vintage from their travels. There are however still some who have  reservations about preworn clothes, it’s a matter of personal choice and conviction which I respect.


Lublana: Do you have in your shops some new vintage clothes?

Barbara: Yes, we do have some stock from shops that unfortunately bankrupt in the 80’s and we were able to secure their stock – new but dated merchandise. Its not easy to find.


Lublana: Do you think that Slovene people’s philosophy is not having worn clothes, old furniture?

Barbara: Decades ago there wasn’t a lot of choice or availability so people were creative and  reworked clothes, which were made of good fabrics but dated styles so they restyled them and perhaps that is the reason that today new is preferred.  For some the memories were not pleasant but for others they are good memories.  Certainly the way one remembers these times affects their views of Vintage clothes, some remember hardships others fun times of rummaging through their grandmothers closet, attics or basement.


Lublana: The vintage pieces that you sell have very good quality?

Barbara: In general vintage pieces are constructed from better fabrics, the patterns and fit are better than what is available in the popular chain’s store of today. For many the high end boutiques are out of their price range so Vintage becomes ecomomic as well as exclusive. Many of the clothes from the 40’, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s are hand sewn.

Lublana: Where do you get the vintage clothes?

Barbara: Some are from our own closets, clothes that we saved hoping we would fit into them again but sadly don’t and probably never will. Kristina had the good fortune of having a grandmother who was quite a lady and had a huge collection of clothes. Other pieces  we buy at vintage fairs as well as clothes from individuals.

Lublana: How far you have to go on good vintage fairs?

Barbara: At the present mostly Italy, Padua, Trieste, Florence, then Graz, Vienna,  Germany, Munich, time is the only constraint as to how far we will travel.

Lublana: Does Ljubljana have a lot of people who like to bring their old clothes?

Barbara: Yes, but we do select, we are happy to take everything as a service to them however we clearly advise them that the pieces that we find are not suitable for our store we will donate to one of the charities in Slovenia or decide on the spot and give them the option to donate themselves. We are especially interested in Slovene vintage, clothes, handbags, hats, accessories, furniture, glassware and china etc.

Lublana: Do you have a lot of unique pieces?

Barbara: Yes, one of our exquisite pieces is feather headpiece from the late 20’s  early 30’s electric blue in colour.

We have  designers from 80’s, 90’s including Ferre, Moschino, Valentino, Dior, Gucci, Claude Montana, D&G, Bally, Alberta Ferretti, Fendi, etc.

Lublana: What kind is your personal vintage taste, what kinds of clothes do you like the most?

Barbara: I like the glamour of the late 30’s, 40’s and then again the start of hoodies which movement began after the end of WWII the beginning of rockabilly, rock and roll. Kristina leans towards the  70’s and I like 80’s, a little toned down style shown in the TV series such as  Dynasty and Dallas, it was an era that was once again glamourous.

Lublana: Do you collect also other old interesting stuff?

Barbara: We like vintage fabrics, glassware, linens, furniture actually we don’t limit ourselves personally or regarding the finds for the store, its always an adventure, you never know what you will find. This is what we hope our store is and will become a treasure trove for our customers.


Lublana: Do you have special request of the people?

Barbara: Yes, a lot. We have a woman who is looking for an antique Burberry golf bag and a gentleman looking for red leather gloves,  classic champagne glasses are very sought after among other items to numerous to mention.


Lublana: Are here a lot of young people who like vintage?

Barbara: Yes, it interesting that young people, are again experimenting and discovering their identity and developing their own style. They are familiar with the popular chain stores but want to wear something different they don’t want to blend in. A few weeks ago  a young girl accompanied by her mother was looking for a dress to wear to her grade nine graduation. She had beautiful flaming red hair, and chose a burgundy/rust taffeta  dress with a full skirt and beaded at the neckline. It fit her fit her like a glove. The dress complemented her hair colour it gave her a certain elegance and sofistication yet innocent at the same time. The following week her friend visited the store and found a very fitted, strapless dress, flared from the waist down, but she couldn’t decide. She returned days later with her friend. Her friend was quick to find a strapless cream colored cocktail dress. At fourteen these girls had the courage to show their fashion flair and I like to think they were the belles of the ball.