In eight short months, Red Empress label has racked up more than a 1,000 followers, with no sign of slowing down, and it’s easy to see why. Rare, authentic vintage fashion is sold exclusively through Aesha Merchant and Asu Longkumer’s ‘thrift shop’ Instagram handle, Red Empress, filling a glaring gap in the fashion landscape of the country. Speaking with Aesha on how the duo source these one-of-a-kind pieces (this aqua blue and gold silk Versace blouse has us dreaming of whiskey sours on sunny afternoons), she tells me that she picks these one-of-a-kind pieces from thrift shops back home in New Zealand, while Asu sources them on her trips to the North-East. The best part? “Our pieces are not expensive at all. Our shirts range from Rs. 1,800 to Rs. 2,000. If they’re branded (like the Versace piece), the price point is a little bit higher, starting at Rs. 3,500,” Aesha clarifies. The most expensive piece that Red Empress stocks is Rs. 8,000, she tells me as my vintage fashion-starved heart does a cartwheel.
“In New Zealand, there’s a huge culture of wear vintage clothes. So there are many many thrift shops in Auckland, where I grew up, so I’m used to picking up things from there and they cost a couple of dollars.” In comparison, she found vintage fashion in India so ridiculously expensive that she wanted Red Empress to be both affordable and accessible. “The point is for people to actually be able to wear more vintage.”
The minute stock starts running low, one of these champions makes a trip to source more pieces, hitting the streets of Delhi and Mumbai for hidden gems tucked away in export surplus shops or, Aesha says, she calls on her younger sister in Melbourne to ensure a constant supply for their buyers. Currently, Red Empress is stocked with some stellar finds like this vintage Pierre Balmain ruby blouse or this gorgeous oversized denim bomber that’s straight outta the 80s. A patchwork corduroy and denim skirt that teleports you back to the 70s or (one of Aesha’s favourite pieces) a velvet bomber jacket - not only is vintage fashion your one-stop-solution to cultivating a completely unique sense of style, it’s an easy, fun way to start your journey towards buying more sustainably and making better choices for the environment.
However, I don’t need to make a case for Red Empress - their deliciously curated collection isn’t a hard sell. After all, where else will you find true-blue vintage fashion, immaculately preserved and transported to 2018, for prices that don’t break the bank?
Scroll on for a peek into their lookbook and check out Red Empress label here.
All in-article images courtesy Red Empress label and shot by Delton Dsouza.
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