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Published on April 11, 2011 | by nauman     Photography by


Restyle, reuse, recycle

A look inside just one of the Art of Reuse's pop-up boutiques, The Interim in Toronto. Courtesy Sean Brown

Thrift shopping has never looked cooler. As the saying goes, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” But how far are people willing to step into someone else’s old threads?

This is not a dilemma for Sean Brown, Othello Grey and Courtney Eastman of Art of Reuse, a Toronto-based collective that takes the notion of thrift shopping to the next level.

The initiative, which began in December of 2009, was created in order for people to acquire alternative views on thrift shopping.

“The general consumer is quite lazy,” says Brown, Brand Director of Art of Reuse, and Editor-In-Chief of the project’s in-house magazine.

“People don’t want to go to Goodwill and shop at the Salvation Army digging… A lot of [them] don’t have that patience and that’s where the concept of ‘Interim’ comes from.”

The collective is mainly known for their pop-up boutique, ‘The Interim,’ which opens up in various spaces around Toronto showcasing the group’s findings for eco-friendly albeit stylish, fashion enthusiasts to purchase.

“It’s like a circus–we go around different spaces, nothing over fifty dollars and then we close down the same day and move on,” says Brown.

From tweed blazers to leather moccasins, and one-of-a-kind ties to vintage designer finds, the group maintains high standards when it comes to hunting for pieces, and they also make sure to keep the customers they cater to in mind.

“When you come to our space you know that everything you’re coming in to see is of great quality. It’s well built, it’s like we’ve done the search for you,” says Grey, media developer of Art of Reuse.

According to Brown every piece that the group plans on selling has to be graded: lightly worn, no holes and no stains, just to name a few.
As a contemporary take on the traditional thrift store, Interim has created an image that appeals to many who originally wouldn’t be interested in the idea of used clothing.

With experience in retail and an understanding of consumerism in merchandising, the trio knows how to appeal to customers in such way that does not look or feel like a thrift store.

“You could find a Dior belt for eight bucks, but it’s presented in a way that you feel you’re walking into any boutique downtown,” says Brown.

Another difference between the two is the shopping experience that Interim provides their clients.

“It’s a new experience… we’re more hands on… you come to the store, we help you find, we help you develop your own identity, in that sense,” says Brown.

Art of Reuse tends to scour for spaces that would appeal to their clientele: trendy, contemporary and clean-cut.
The question often brought up is how the group tends to find such stylish pieces.

“We always go in with a clear mind, with no preconceived notion. We just go and search from there. It’s always a clean slate,” says Grey.

“You have no control over what you’ll find… It’s like fate and that’s kind of the magic of thrift shopping,” says Brown.
Currently, Brown, Grey and Eastman (who plays the role of store manager) are the predominant members of The Art of Reuse; however, they also have other individuals on board contributing to their publication and online content.

The trio collaborates with various local talent such as musical artists, photographers and filmmakers in order to present their ideas in a manner they find suitable through videos, photos and their online magazine. Art of Reuse’s first print magazine will be available this fall.

So what’s in store for Art of Reuse within the next few years? According to the group, their long-term goal is to be the first thrift store in a shopping mall.

“When we get to that point we could change more than just fashion,” says Grey.

Brown couldn’t agree any more. The idea of a thrift store inside a shopping mall with new stock every day that sells nothing over $50  is Art of Reuse’s ultimate goal.

“It’s very unique, something that’s never been done. It will happen.”

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