It’s fitting that we meet the Brittell’s on a Sunday afternoon.
With softly spoken salutations and laid back style, everything about the Brittell brothers feels like a Sunday: the day that can’t make up it’s mind whether it’s the conclusion – or the beginning – of each week. A blur of retrospection and anticipation. And, of course, brunch.
Today, it’s mostly anticipation, as the brothers prep their store, Velour, on their day off. “Days off are generally spent with family, but sometimes they involve doing market research, seeking out potential suppliers and brands, or, like today, working on the shop aesthetic,” says Stephen.
Stephen and Andrew Brittell cofounded the resale clothing shop four years ago. It has a boutique flair that offers what the identical twin brothers refer to as fashion recycled.
“We already liked thrifting – finding the gem in the haystack,” says Andrew. “And on top of that, our dad was an avid antiquer, so I guess you could say it runs in the blood. When we were playing with the idea of starting a store, a vintage shop made the most sense.”
When you hear “vintage shop”, this is not what probably comes to mind. The brick walls, like the merchandise within, are quiet and stoic. Light pours through large picture windows, plodding toward the counter at the back, the floating coat racks casting soft shadows across the floor. From the antique cameras lining the shelves to the construction of handmade displays, the merchandising of Velour has been crafted with care. There is a sensibility and pride with which everything is displayed. Stephen tinkers with a rack of coats, respacing hangers evenly and straightening the sleeve of an army green parka.
“There are a lot of resale shops closer to the city, so we wanted to be intentional about it being less of an urban vibe. It’s a little bit more curated.”
Curated is a good word. Even down to the construction of the displays, there is nothing that feels out of place. That doesn’t feel fashionably recycled, perhaps. And for good reason.
“Before we even started the project, we found this fort in the woods and thought it was rad, so we asked around to see if we could get the wood from it, and someone said yes.”
“So the two of us and our wives basically spent a weekend up in the forest, pulling apart this cabin so we could use the wood for our space.” Andrew goes on to talk about Stephen stepping on a nail and scrambling about to tend the wound before continuing to dismantle the beams.
“I guess you could say we take the recycling thing seriously”, Stephen adds, with a laugh.
“To me style means being comfortable in your own skin; knowing what strikes your fancy and sticking with it in spite of current trends. Although I’m sure trends play at least a subconscious role in determining what you’re going to ultimately be drawn to, I think it’s difficult to have true style unless you’re comfortable with who you are first.”
Indeed they do. From a cow skull found in a field by a brother-in-law to a pair of abandoned oars found at a nearby creek bed, the brothers’ resourcefulness is uncanny. Even their initial stock of merchandise was a mashup of estate sale acquisitions, items of their own, and select pieces from friends’ closets. “We basically commissioned all our friends to throw in anything they didn’t want anymore in a pile and we’d pay for them.” Unsurprisingly, the result is a uniquely charming store they can truly call their own.
They continue to ruminate back to 2011 like it was a decade ago. And understandably so – as first time business owners, the Brittell’s really have come a long way. With several years under their belts, they feel they finally have a strong grasp on the ins-and-outs of running the shop. So much so that they’re ready to branch out. Beyond the busyness of keeping up shop, marriage, and kids, they’re now putting their day to day focus on creating and launching an e-commerce site.
“My goal is to outlive trends. 20 years down the road I want to see a photo of myself and be able to stay ‘I’d still wear that’.”
“Up to this point, our web presence has been very minimal, aside from social media”, says Stephen. “Because Velour was conceived and launched from the ground up as a sort of grassroots effort, we’ve spent most of our energy and resources on the physical aspects of the shop, until now.”
An integral part of maintaining the store-front is making sure the inventory is cycling regularly, which means that in a small town like Newberg, a lot of the higher ticket vintage items get overlooked and eventually discounted or donated.
“An online store will allow us the option to open the market up with some of the more specialized items that have gone through the shop cycle without finding an owner or are better suited for a broader market.”
There’s a lot left to do, but they anticipate launching the webshop this summer.
When asked if there’s anything they aren’t particularly looking for, the answer is definitive: “Big lapels – we’re not so much into that.”
Even vintage has its boundaries.