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Denton vintage store curates retro apparel and fashion history

Denton vintage store curates retro apparel and fashion history

September 27
20:35 2017

Among the row of retail shops around the Square, a single burgundy door leads to the entrance of the sole vintage shop in town.

Filled with clusters of eclectic retro clothes, funky accessories and top radio hits booming through an old-fashioned speaker system, Circa 77 Vintage ensures that each garment comes with a unique, rich history in every stitch and seam.

Located on 225 West Oak St., the store sprang to life nearly 13 years ago by Janie Shoto and her daughter when they desired to bring an unexpected retail experience to locals.

Shoto said the store was the perfect way to combine their love for fashion, although their appreciation for clothing originated in different ways.

“[My daughter] has always done vintage, ever since she was a little girl,” Shoto said. “I’m the one who didn’t understand it at first. I only believed in designer stuff.”

Though Shoto was diagnosed with full-blown retinitis pigmentosa (RP) at 18 years old, she didn’t begin to lose vision until her early 50s.

Determined to not let her RP affect the business, Shoto quickly learned to use her sense of touch and knowledge of fashion to correctly assess and price the clothes sold to the store.

“I’ll take the clothes and flip it over to see how it’s sewn [and] whether it’s an open seam or it’s been surged.” Shoto said. “That way I’ll know if it’s newer or older. Then I’ll always check the zipper to see if it’s metal or invisible. I just go through a whole process through each item.”

From there, interns like fashion merchandising/digital retail junior Kassi Reyna will also assess the garment and then Google search the clothing’s brand to make sure it’s legitimately vintage.

Clothes from various decades are displayed in Circa 77 Vintage on West Oak. The store has been open for 13 years. Paige Bruneman

For Reyna, working at the store means being constantly surrounded by history in the form of fashion.

“That’s the most fascinating part to me, knowing that the garment’s [history] won’t just fade away with time,” she said. “There are stories in everything here.”

Her job includes pricing garments, running errands for Shoto and helping with the store’s social media presence.

The store’s Instagram page, @circa77vintage, is known for featuring customers and their buys. Reyna believes the implementation of social media is an accurate representation of the store’s place in the community.

“I like having cool pictures of the shoppers in their clothes to incorporate customers in our Instagram,” Reyna said. “It gives us more of a local business feel.”

Merchandising senior Jessica Colligan has been interning at the shop for two years, but began her credited internship about a year ago.

Her lifelong passion for antique fashion is what drove her to work at the store.

“What drove me to work here was my love for vintage,” Colligan said. “I’ve always liked old movies because of the vintage clothing. Working here means getting to work with it and also try it on and wear it around.”

She works closely with Shoto when buying clothes from customers. She also frequently redesigns the layout of the store to display different clothes and consistently showcase unique items.

Colligan believes the biggest misconception people have about the vintage store is that it’s the same as a thrift store.

“People will come in here thinking it’s a thrift store, but thrifting is very different from vintage,” Colligan said. “Vintage is more expensive because of the quality of the clothes.”

Fashion merchandising and digital retail freshman Adele Witt was once just a frequent shopper. She became so encapsulated by the store that she began interning there this semester.

“I love vintage,” Witt said. “I’ve always loved it because my grandma liked to sew. I’m really at ease in this setting.”

Witt used to volunteer at an Austin thrift store and helped with the store’s Etsy site.

Witt felt that working at the Denton vintage shop was a logical next step to deepen her study of genuine vintage clothing.

While some customers misconceive the clothes’ sizing as being exclusive to only small body types, Witt says it’s just how the clothes were made in that time.

“Some people get upset about sizing differences here, but it’s old clothing,” Witt said. “It’s survived 40, 50 [or] who knows how many years. They are likely used to department store clothes, but some things run smaller here because many people wore some form of shapewear back then.”

Shoto said that while many vintage stores have opened and closed in the last 13 years, her store has been around, dedicated service to the community’s needs is what makes Circa 77 Vintage stand the test of time.

“To me, customer service is the most important,” Shoto said. “We’ve added other things like rentals and custom clothing. If there’s something going on and we can help the community, we don’t mind doing that at all. Anything we can do to help, we will.”

Featured Image: Owner Janie Shoto stands in front of Circa 77 Vintage with her dog, Orzo, and two interns. The shop is described as the “best and only” vintage shop in Denton. Paige Bruneman

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Kayla Henson

Kayla Henson

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