SQUARE EIGHT VINTAGE: How to brothers are rethinking vintage fashion

Daud and Roël IJsselstein’s city-hopping Vintage Kilo Pop-Ups have been delighting vintage fans with their unique fashion for quite some time. Recently, they expanded their Gouda-based shop with a second location in central Rotterdam. What once started out with a love for that one special find has since grown into a veritable vintage emporium.

“Vintage has always played a big part in our lives”, Roël says with indisputable enthusiasm from their shop on Oude Binnenweg. “Even as kids we would go around to the charity shops and flea markets with our mum, looking for second-hand items. The love of the hunt for that special find was basically bred into us.”

Eventually, the two brothers decided to turn that quest into a business. Now they spend their days sifting through piles of clothing for those unique items that vintage fans can score in their boutiques or at their pop-up events. The latter are held all around the country in special venues from old churches to factories, along with a recurring residency in WTC Rotterdam. “We load up a whole truck with clothes and set up shop somewhere in the country”, Daud explains. On arriving, they set up the location as a shop for a day or two where people can come and buy clothes just as in any other store – the only difference being that the ambiance is ever-so-slightly more glamorous and the shopping experience is sometimes even amped up by a DJ spinning records. “At the Gouwekerk in Gouda, our hometown, we even had a DJ on the church altar. That was honestly amazing.”

The Square Eight team takes special care when assembling their collection, says Roël. “We try to put a personal spin on modern vintage, guided by an artistic eye and focusing on streetwear and designers.” The brothers want to base their collections on what’s happening on the catwalk, on the street and in other shops, with the aim of “offering an eco-friendly alternative and creating a new kind of vintage.” Clothing comes in by the ton, they say. As in: entire truckloads full. “We get stuff from all over the world”, Daud continues. “we’ve been doing this professionally for five years, after all, so in that time we’ve built up a sizeable network.”

Laughing, he adds, “We never really know what we’ll get. It’s a big mystery every time: every bag we tear open is a big surprise. That makes this work such a blast.” Whatever doesn’t end up on Square Eight’s racks is taken somewhere elsewhere it will be put to good use. “We work with partners so nothing is ever thrown away”, says Roël. The brothers believe the way they are rethinking fashion can make a real difference. “The market is only growing bigger. Ideally, you would have at least one second-hand alternative for every fast fashion store”, Daud stresses. “That’s how it should be, so that’s how we need to approach it. We only see room for growth.”

So, what’s the best strategy for scoring that one-of-a-kind fashion find? The brothers agree that patience is essential. “Just glancing along the racks is not how to tackle it”, advises Daud. “And the kaleidoscope of colours and patterns can sometimes feel daunting. You just have to dive in and take your time. There are so many treasures in there.”