You’ll Love Everything The Break’s Hannah Richtman Has to Say About Vintage Fashion
“Every vintage purchase you make, you are actively preventing harmful waste and adding something gorgeous and unique to your wardrobe. Recycling is not only the right thing to do, it’s easier than ever.”
Hannah Richtman is one of the coolest New Yorkers we know of, and the founder of The Break – an online and IRL destination in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, for vintage and contemporary fashion and homeware that she herself describes as ‘relevant and effortless’. We agree, and would like to add ‘totally on point’, in everything from curation to the strong visual expression and inspirational vintage Editorials that could convert any non-believer. In our book, Hannah’s simply got it all right, and from our brief virtual encounter we strongly suspect she’s a pretty amazing person too. We know you’ll love everything she has to say about vintage, and fashion in general.
Tell us about your relationship to pre-owned fashion!
– My obsession with pre-owned fashion started at a young age. I grew up in Wisconsin and didn’t have access to a luxury retailer (or a luxury budget!). I truly discovered my personality under the flourescent light of my local thrift stores. I would fill garbage bags with clothes and cut them to my hearts desire, recreating the looks I fawned over in Teen Vogue and Nylon. The process was and still is cathartic, and it’s thrilling that it has become my career!
Sell it to the unconvinced: What is the magic of vintage and second hand?
– The history! Fashion is cyclical, and you can find a reference to every current runway show on our racks. Also, lots of vintage is hand-made, which is hard to come by on the high street. There’s nothing like finding a one of a kind piece that looks like it was tailored for your body!
What is the story behind The Break, and how would you describe the concept of your store and business?
– The Break started with a desire to provide a multi-dimensional space for our community. I wanted to create a world that was an inclusive and accessible source of inspiration; where you could shop, drink, dance and network without the pressure of having to buy something or know someone. I want The Break to feel truly hospitable – where everything is chic and affordable and unique and personal. In an often isolating city and industry, I want The Break to feel like home.
How do you source the pre-owned pieces for the shop, and what are you currently on the hunt for?
– I can’t reveal my secret sauce! I will say that I travel weekly (and all over the world) to find the most relevant, highest quality pieces for The Break. It’s usually a 12 hour excursion and I’m almost always wearing leggings. I’m currently on the hunt for buttery leathers, oversize trenches, tailored silk suits and high waisted denim. Everything has to be high quality and wearable. I’m not willing to sacrifice quality for scale.
What is your best advice on how to become a skilled vintage shopper? What makes a good buy and what are the things to look out for?
– Keep an open mind! Use your senses: notice not only how it looks but also how it feels and even how it smells – sometimes the stank just can’t be cleaned out, so I pass in those cases. A good buy is in mint condition and has classic tailoring that will stay relevant well beyond the current season. A great buy is Chanel or anything you will wear tonight.
Everyone can use a reminder: Why is second hand better for the environment?
– According to The Fashion Revolution, over 80% of unwanted textiles are either shipped to landfills or incinerated globally – many of which were probably chic silk blouses we’d all die for! Every vintage purchase you make, you are actively preventing harmful waste and adding something gorgeous and unique to your wardrobe. Recycling is not only the right thing to do, it’s easier than ever.
What can you tell us about the ‘contemporary’ section of the shop, and how do you choose the brands and products?
– Brands that we carry at The Break are universally good. We strive to stock beauty and makeup brands that are organic, cruelty free, and made in the US. As for our fashion and accessories brands, we want to work with unique, accessible, small businesses that champion sustainable and ethical living. It is very important to us that we love our products, the practices implemented to make them, and the people who dreamt them up!
What is #BREAKNYFW? We want to know what we’ve been missing out on!
– Our mission is to *break* NYFW by curating a see-now, buy-now style event that highlights diversity, inclusivity, and accessibility. No front row, no hierarchy. All are welcome, and this past season we saw over 1,500 guests attend.
– BREAK NYFW aims to highlight the cyclical nature of modern fashion through relevant clothing from the past. We hope to break away from the misconception that vintage is overpriced or outdated, and promote sustainability in the fashion industry without sacrificing substance or quality.
– BREAK NYFW is, by far, the most ambitious event that we produce, and we’re so proud of the traction that it’s gained.
What is on the horizon for The Break?
– We are looking to become a multi-faceted space, both online and IRL, by including food, beverage and more unique contemporary selections (our own collection is in the works!). We are also collaborating with hotels and venues around the world to bring our distinct brand of hospitality to the masses and curate experiences that inspire and connect.
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