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Q&A with Chicago’s professional thrifter Vanessa Kaicher…..

Vanessa is a vintage clothing, shoes, handbags & jewelry addict and we have been friends on Facebook since she discovered The Thrifters blog and connected with me.  When I received emails from Vanessa I could tell instantly she was overwhelmed by the thrill of discovering certain vintage pieces and you could hear the joy in her emails.  She’s a true collector, she makes it her mission to go out and find vintage to reclaim it.  I love getting to know Vanessa so when she recently emailed me about her recent find I knew I had to do a Q&A with this rising vintage collector!  

Q:  Please tell us your name, where you live and your occupation.
My name is Vanessa Kaicher.  I live in Chicago, IL and I work at a designer consignment shop called Trends Boutique.  I’m in charge of consignments, so I choose all the “new” merchandise for the shop.
Q:  How long have you been a ‘thrifter’ and what got you started on shopping for luxury vintage?
I’ve been thrifting since I was in high school in the late-90s.  I was a goth/punk/grunge chick, and I’d thrift for bizarre vintage clothes to wear with my combat boots and band t-shirts.  When I went to college there were only two stores in my town that offered affordable clothes for students – the Gap, and the local thrift shop.  Once I discovered that I could score vintage Gucci for less than the price of a top at the Gap, I was hooked.  After college, I relied on thrift shops to furnish my first apartment and provide me with stylish, inexpensive clothes.
Q:  I love the vintage label Pauline Trigere, she was labeled The American Coco Chanel so please tell us about this lovely Trigere beaded item you recently acquired and the story behind it….  ( I have the story from your email but if you wanted to add some more details go ahead…) 


I’d taken an extra shift for a coworker who was sick, and I wasn’t even supposed to be working that day… A woman came in with several bags worth of clothing, most of which were vintage designer labels from the 1980s, like Emanuel Ungaro, Louis Feraud, Escada, etc.  The woman’s mother had recently passed away, and she was cleaning out her closet.  I took a few pieces that I knew would sell, but I had to pass on several things because we don’t sell vintage at my shop.  One of the pieces was a gorgeous, long, black wool gown with big, beaded sleeves.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t take it because it was too “dated” and it was missing a bead in the front.  I encouraged the woman to contact some local vintage shops about a few of the pieces, but she said she just wanted to unload everything, and asked me to donate the items we couldn’t take.  After she left, I took her unwanted clothes downstairs to put in our donate bins, and took a second look at the gown.  I unzipped the back and saw the “Pauline Trigere” label… Needless to say, the gown came home with me!  It was such a work-of-art, I couldn’t stand the thought of it ending up in a dirty thrift shop!  It does fit me (rather snugly) so now I just need to score an invite to some fabulous black-tie gala!

Q: What was your first reaction when you saw the Trigere label?
I uttered a few expletives… then I neatly folded it up and put it in my tote bag, so it wouldn’t end up getting donated!
Q:  Do you just focus on clothing when you are out ‘thrifting’ or do you look at everything???  I look at everything because you never know but some ‘thrifters’ just look for specific things so just wondering????
I check out everything too!  My apartment is furnished with an eclectic mix of hand-me-down antiques from my family, mixed with funky thrift shop finds.  I collect vintage kitchenware and Depression-era appliances.  (I have a toaster and a waffle maker from the 1920s, both found thrifting.)  I also like to repurpose old furniture – I use an old thrifted bookcase to display my shoe collection, and a vintage coat-rack (from Goodwill) to hang my purses.
Q:  What is your absolute dream piece you desperately want to find?????
Wow, I have so many!  Of course, I’d love to find a classic Chanel caviar bag and a pair of Christian Louboutin heels!  I actually keep a list of things to look for when thrifting (or at my consignment shop).  Right now, I’m looking for a Rebecca Minkoff MAB bag, a Longchamp LePliage tote, an Alexander McQueen skull scarf, a silk blouse by Equipment, and Tory Burch Reva flats.  I know from years of thrifting experience that I’ll come across all these things eventually… I never bother shopping retail anymore!
Q:  How do you educate yourself on labels ?  Some people read books, magazines or online websites what’s your poison?  
Your blog is definitely a great resource for info!  I also read The Purse Forum, for info on authenticating designer labels.  I’ll go on the websites for Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, Forzieri, etc. and look at their Designers A-Z list.  If I’m out thrifting and see a label I don’t recognize, I’ll Google it on my iPhone and see where it’s sold and how much it retails for.  I’ve discovered so many amazing designers this way!  
I think I would have passed out if I found a beaded Pauline Trigere gown and I’m thrilled for Vanessa because I know she will be an excellent guardian to this piece and that’s important.  

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