Get Shredded Vintage: Interview with Sara Autrey

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In an age of fast fashion, the cheap and trendy clothing mass-produced and filling landfills because of poor quality and limited utility, one clear solution is wearing repurposed clothing from an earlier age where materials and craftsmanship were considered standard rather than luxury.

“Shopping vintage (especially locally, in person) is so great on so many levels,” says Sara Autrey, a 30-year-old musician, formerly of the indie rock band Wing Dam, and the owner of Get Shredded Vintage, a vibrant Charles Village shop she opened in May of 2018. “You’re supporting the local economy and local artists, while getting one-of-a-kind pieces. Vintage clothing is more likely to be union-made, which means better quality clothing that will hold up for so much longer than fast fashion.”

Just a few steps below street-level but still flooded with natural light, Get Shredded is located on 31st Street between St. Paul and Calvert streets, and offers bold, unusual, and beautiful objects, such as vintage pins with clever sayings, jewelry by local designers, and a wide selection of clothing and housewares. You can find something for your dad on Father’s Day just as easily as you can stumble upon a mod-ish mini dress that can make an everyday outfit memorable. There’s always an eclectic assortment of carefully selected clothes, as well as locally produced merchandise like jewelry, bath and skincare, art, and records.

No matter what you’re looking for, the store holds something you positively need and always offers a warm welcome that matches its tangerine hued walls. Autrey was featured in Issue 07 of our print journal as part of a series on Baltimore-area vintage shops, and this interview offers many more details about this charming and fun shop.

Cara Ober: Where does Get Shredded’s name come from?

Sara Autrey: Get Shredded actually started as an interview series where I’d ask musicians questions in front of the audience before they played, with the hopes of creating a deeper connection and understanding between the audience and artists. “Get Shredded” means to experience something powerful, artistically pleasing, and transformative—as a community!

The artist shreds, the audience is getting shredded. I want to bring the premise of strengthened connections from the interview series into the shop, and connect clients with local artists, makers, and clothing that would strengthen the arts community while helping people comfortably push the boundaries of their outward self-expression.

What do you sell the most of?

Overall, women’s clothing sells the most—but that doesn’t take into account the amount of fashion savvy non-gender-conforming people who come to the shop and style outfits from all of the sections of the shop. Most people who come to Get Shredded find great pieces in the femme AND masculine sections!

The clothing I stock ranges from classics with a twist (think A-line skirts in ultra vibrant colors, vintage cotton button-downs in classic shapes with interesting collars) to handmade psychedelic printed bellbottoms with fringed hem. Somewhere in the middle of the spectrum lies fun retro dresses, vintage Levis in all shapes and sizes, formal wear, pantsuits, swim wear, everyday wearables, work wear, a unisex section, and fantastically outrageous statement pieces—all of which we can help style to be appropriate for any occasion.

I also stock locally upcycled clothing, and local designers and artists who print on wearables. Basically, there is something perfect for almost anyone who comes in: size-wise, price-wise, and style-wise.

Where do you get your clothing, jewelry, and home goods?

I get my clothing from so many sources, but my favorite is buying from private vendors who come to me and trust me to find their beloved pieces a happy new home. The satisfaction of taking something that is no longer loved to the fullest and finding it a place to be adored is absolutely priceless.

Sourcing body products, jewelry, paper press, home goods, and art from local makers is also a joy—any chance I have to connect people to local makers and help the artists earn a viable income is rewarding beyond words.

Can you talk about how shopping vintage is an environmentally friendly form of shopping that actually goes against the wasteful current practice of fast fashion? What are the pros and cons?

Fast fashion is one of the most environmentally devastating, human-rights-violating, wasteful, more-is-better consumerism-driven industries. It’s a hard topic to navigate because vintage tends to cost more than fast fashion, but it lasts longer—and not everybody has the option to spend a certain amount on their clothing, regardless of how long it will last. The most I can do in this respect is to offer the lowest pricing I can to make vintage more accessible to people who lean towards fast fashion.

Do you think people are afraid to shop vintage because it encourages sartorial risks?

The “risk” of buying unique pieces that some may view as unconventional is part of the fun of vintage shopping. It took me a really long time to get confident in my own style, which could be viewed as outrageous. You have to approach it from the standpoint of you and only you. Wear what makes you happy, without reserve! Confidence is the best accessory to any outfit.

What are your favorite vintage items to buy for yourself? If you have one favorite thing you bought and wear all the time, what is it?

I recently whittled my personal collection down to about 40 pieces, and in doing that I realized that I really, really, REALLY love unisex pants and tops. That might sound pretty banal and vapid, but actually, is so helpful to know. I used to buy myself dresses, skirts, and blouses by the dozen. They sat there unworn, because I liked to look at them but not wear them, and feel terrible for it. Now that I know exactly what I actually wear and have only those things in my closet, putting together an outfit is easier and there’s no guilty “Why am I not wearing this yet?” feelings.

My absolute favorite thing I’ve bought for myself is a pair of ’60s military wool-blend bootcut mens slacks. They are perfect in every way: wash and wear, dressy or casual, you can make them masc, unisex, or femme. I love them more than is expected for the run-of-the-mill, person-to-pants adoration.

Can you describe how vintage is different than thrift or consignment? In your mind, how do you recognize a really good vintage store when you find a new one? What sets it apart?

Vintage is different than thrift because it is maximally curated, cleaned, repaired, styled, organized, and ready to wear. This is how I operate, at least. I make sure the pieces I put out are incredible—no flaws, great quality. There’s a lot of work behind it that most people don’t see, like the years-long process of honing sources, repairing, washing, steaming, ironing, research, photographing, styling shoots, finding models, branding, pricing—and the time and materials that go into all of this to bring the client a seamless and fun experience in the shop.

In my experience, what sets truly great vintage stores apart is being clean, curated, and organized. Walking into a dusty, smelly, unorganized vintage store is not my ideal experience. Taking the care and time to present your product in a clean and artful manner speaks volumes to clients.

More info:

Get Shredded Vintage
3101 Saint Paul St., rear basement in Charles Village
Hours: Sunday–Thursday, 11 a.m.–6 p.m., Friday–Saturday, 11 a.m.–7 p.m.
Etsy: Get Shredded Vintage
Facebook: Get Shredded Vintage
Instagram: @getshreddedbmore #getshreddedbaltimore

Photos by Justin Tsucalas.

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