Lori Virdue’s love for vintage was born in her grandmother’s closet. Growing up, she lived with three siblings in her grandparents’ retro home in south Baton Rouge. When getting dressed for school, she would borrow ’50s, ’60s and ’70s pieces from their closet. The free-spirited gaucho pants, timeless printed shift dresses and high-waisted pedal pushers all seemed to tell a story.
“I would get magazines and go through them to try and mimic what I saw,” Virdue recalls. “I didn’t know it then, but now I see it’s a revolving cycle of style. Styles always come back.”
Today, Virdue is the curator behind Vinti, an online vintage clothing shop. The 33-year-old Baton Rouge native started her online boutique in 2014, after 13 years of working in the retail industry.
But it wasn’t until she attended Brooklyn Flea, a weekly flea market for antiques and vintage in New York, that she realized she could make a career of selling vintage styles. Looking around the sea of small businesses and makers made her feel instantly at home. She briefly spoke with the owner of one of her favorite shops, Vanhees Vintage, and felt confident starting Vinti was her calling.
Now, Virdue collects clothing and accessories from thrift stores and estate sales around Louisiana. She scans bins and racks for unique textures, wardrobe staples and statement pieces that are in good condition. She typically shops for natural fabrics like cotton, flax and linen to encourage sustainability. She also restores stained and torn textiles by hand-dying or sewing them.
On her website, fashionistas can shop more than 100 embroidered dusters, sheer slip dresses, earth-toned tops, silky pants, bohemian maxi skirts, and statement and designer purses. Her collection includes styles from the 1900s to the 1990s. When treasure hunting for new items, Virdue says she considers a piece’s fabric content, comfort, breathability and functionality before adding it to her collection.
“Vintage can be modern,” she says. “You don’t have to look like you’re out of 1950 to wear it.”
Virdue hunts for garments weekly. Every other month, she adds more than 40 new items to her website.
She hosts pop-up shops throughout the year at Mid City Makers Market in Baton Rouge. She has also participated in events in New Orleans at the Magazine Merchant House collective and women’s clothing store Stonefree.
As she enters her fifth year in business, Virdue hopes to expand and showcase her clothing in contemporary boutiques worldwide.
Beginning this summer, locals will be able to shop select Vinti pieces at Wanderlust by Abby. Also this season, Virdue will collaborate with another Baton Rouge online vintage shop, Lion Brigade, to launch a joint clothing line made of modern and minimal pieces recreated from vintage clothing and fabrics.
By continuing to share her love of vintage, she hopes to change the way people think about it and modernize their approach to shopping for pre-owned clothing.
“I would be doing a disservice if I sold people clothing they didn’t love,” Virdue says. “The clothes should speak to the customers’ best selves. I want to leave a legacy bigger than just style.”
This article was originally published in the July 2019 issue of 225 Magazine.