A new age of style is dawning. No longer are Hawaiian shirts the sole territory of embarrassing dads on their yearly beach vacations. They’re now being recognized as full on fashion pieces. Trendy even. It’s a movement that vintage retailer Lindsay Bardwil is spearheading and capitalizing on. The world traveler and fashion curator actually specializes in vintage Hawaiian shirts.
Yes, Hawaiian shirt resale is a business… and business is booming.
Making up the “Wil” part of the Unk & Will vintage lifestyle brand, Bardwil is a Fashion Institute of Technology graduate who has worn the designer’s hat, the painter’s beret, dabbled with fashion blogging, and is now falling into stride with a vintage collection and brand.
I met Bardwil at one of her pop-up shops in the New York City. She had three racks of clothing with the most unique pieces I’d ever seen in a second hand set up. From Parisian nighties in perfect condition, to sequined disco dresses and a few letterman sweatshirts from Ivy League schools in the 60s, I felt like I was looking at an editorial spread that was pulled for a fashion shoot.
Bardwil’s mixed experience in the fashion world has given her keen insight into the needs of her customers.She tells a story of an international trip, when she realized that the vintage pieces shoppers in America are looking for aren’t in America. They’re overseas. They’re in tiny thrift shops on the end of windy streets in Italy. They’re in chain donation centers in tourist-free zones of France. They’re in local markets in India. And so she started collecting.
Over the last few years, Bardwil has traveled the world pulling pieces from obscurity and bringing them to New York where she and her partner Keri Shunk curate pop-up shops and trunk shows in addition to hosting an online retail site.
“Keri and I are extremely passionate about traveling the world, exploring new places, and finding fabric and vintage pieces wherever we go,” Bardwil tells me. “Over the years we acquired a pretty vast collection.”
With such a collection, it would have been a shame not to share it, but Bardwil and Shunk weren’t just trying to clear out their closets, they also felt a strong pull to create a business that was environmentally responsible. Curating and selling vintage clothing was well suited to this ambition.
“It was an opportunity to transition and grow our business into something new and more sustainable,” Bardwil says, “something we both feel should be a top priority for all businesses today.”