Instagram, aka America's favorite pastime, got a lot more all-consuming this past year: Not only can you mood-board to your heart's content with the introduction of Collections, but you can also make live Instagram Stories. Another aspect of the app that's gained traction of late? Insta-shops — or social pages used almost exclusively to sell highly sought-after products that are often vintage or one-of-a-kind — are becoming more common by the week. That means you can now use the app for double-tapping, Storying to your social media-loving heart's content... and bidding on a pair of vintage corduroys.
Instead of just offering a peek at what's in-store or online on Instagram, these vintage retailers sell their wares by posting purposefully styled photos of a piece with its approximate size, as well as the price, urging followers to respond quickly to claim it via DM. Many of the products have the usual wear-and-tear of something 20 or 30 years old, and though you might be tempted to waste time bargaining or asking for more photos, most pieces from highly followed shops sell within minutes. (Lately, basket bags, oversized blazers and chunky sweaters have been widely popular.) There's no actual currency exchange in Instagram — the app has largely stayed away from payment territory, instead leaving those who want to buy to use Venmo or Paypal — though one would assume that's coming next.
Still, the rise of Insta-shops means a more level playing field: Those that don't reside in a major metropolitan area now have unprecedented access to vintage or rare scores they might not normally be able to find, often at affordable prices. "While buying vintage online can sometimes be a gamble, our customer is more willing to take the risk when the price point is accessible," says Elianah Sukoenig of The Break, a vintage store in Williamsburg who lead the trend of selling via Instagram Stories. "They trust our taste and attention to quality, and there is an added element of excitement when selling on Instagram."
So how does someone decide to sell on Instagram rather than online? Sukoenig says they have choosing what goes on the 'gram practically down to a science: "Hannah, our founder, and Sarah, our COO, hand-source hundreds of pieces every week, then I go through and make a selection based on what I feel will sell well, and the requests we get from our community," she says. "After we've inventoried our new stock, I go through and pull items that I think will do well on the Insta Story and start styling them. When Hannah and Sarah come back from sourcing items, they usually have pieces they've selected for the Story and pieces I've requested for it."
Some pieces might be slow-movers that need an extra push, while others will never see the inside of a store-front. Amber Glaspie's shop, Elia Vintage, doesn't have a brick-and-mortar — or even a proper e-commerce website yet, for that matter — but that doesn't make her shop any less successful. "When I decided to start my own business, I knew Instagram would be my go-to platform. It's the best way to reach a broad audience and it allows me to tailor my marketing to reach those with similar interest," she says, noting that push notifications allow her to alert shoppers about popular products like tailored pantsuits and trench coats similar to the way a daily or triggered newsletter might. (It's also worth noting that she used to work for Beyoncé.)
Like so many things millennials hold dear, this system offers immediacy. But what about the thrill of the hunt? "There are so many sources of vintage shopping — online, consignment, thrift stores and other distributors — that people can still enjoy the hunt through Instagram," says Kate Jennings of Na Nin Vintage, which also has a storefront in Richmond, Va., as well as an in-house line by the same name. Jennings started her vintage online shop back in 2009, and later launched the Instagram channel as a way to show the pieces styled as they were intended. Almost 75 percent of Na Nin's sales come from e-commerce, which includes Instagram sales — something Jennings attributes to the loyal community of followers.
Intrigued? Ahead, discover 9 of the best vintage and one-of-a-kind shops Instagram has to offer.
This Portland, Oregon-based shop has a brick-and-mortar by the same name. It's known for its innovative curation, affordable prices and oft-democratic imagery — everything's unisex if you want it to be.
This Williamsburg-based brick-and-mortar lead the charge with Insta Story sales. "The founder posted to our story the first day Instagram launched the feature and made 20 sales," says Sukoenig, who runs the store's social media. Keep an eye out for oversize blazers, longline silk dresses and matching sets in '60s proportions.
Created by Spain-based Insta-girl Maria Bernard, Les Fleurs vintage features a mix of pieces like oversize blazers and handmade basket bags.
It takes a certain eye to see the beauty in a tangerine grape cluster, but Emi Moore, the owner and curator of Casa Shop, has it. Moore, a former buyer for Need Supply Co., started the shop as a passion project in 2016 and has since taken it on full-time.
Even if you're not in the market to buy, Na Nin's Kate Jennings features pieces that you probably already have in your closet — silk button-down shirts, oversize tunics, wide-leg pants — and styles them in ways you didn't think of yet.
This LA-based shop is an undiscovered gem: Between the so-so embroidered tops and it's-in-the-past-for-a-reason dresses are vintage Guess jeans and leather-paneled jackets that looks way more Ganni than Wilsons.
This Austin-based shop offers "curated classics with some found contemporary" — and it's all under $100. Think mustard-hued jackets and citrine turtlenecks, all described in detail.
Sloane Studio may not have even his its first 1,000 followers yet, but it's only a matter of time before it blows up. Expect on-trend pieces that don't scream for attention, like understated crochet bags and gently worn Marni shoes.
Glaspie says she makes it a point to source vintage finds for Elia Vintage when she's traveling. "I'm local — I shop at some of my favorite go-to stores, fleas and estate sales. I also try to venture out to find new shops as often as I can." Her store has gained traction in the last two months thanks to its selection of super-feminine shirts and bright, eye-catching statement pieces.
OK, so this women-run, LGBTI-owned shop doesn't technically sell through Instagram, but it deserves a nod. Check out everything from one-of-a-kind vintage pieces like this candy-striped turtleneck to this *very* on-trend polo shirt.