From Archive Fashion Enthusiast to Self-Made: Interview with Roe of Lake Vienna
Roe is the creative mind behind many entrepreneurial ventures in the online fashion scene. His interest in Archive Fashion emerged years back as he began to recognize the value and desirability of certain garments and brands. Day after day he buys and sells highly sought after items for his store Lake Vienna, carrying archive pieces from designers like Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, and Kapital.
With the success of his store amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Roe has been able to branch out and diversify his creative outlets, from providing vintage basics and uniforms through his shop No Maintenance to the creation of original products like the Enns Worker Jacket and Arco Necklace. We’ve had the opportunity to interview Roe on his beginnings in Archive Fashion, his intimate connections with his business ventures, thoughts surrounding the current fashion scene, and more. Enjoy.
How has life been treating you during the pandemic?
In light of everything that has been going on, I've actually been doing well. In many ways COVID has put a lot of us in positive positions to reflect on how we spend the time we have. I've spent so much time indoors now, and I've evaluated how I use my time in a meaningful way and I inject that back into my business.
There was a period of time where there was so much uncertainty. We’re all in this flight or fight mode, trying to learn how to survive, especially financially. And so I'm very blessed to say that Lake Vienna has done incredibly well this year. It’s come a long way, the curation, the way we reach our audience, the way we inform our audience. The entire narrative of the business has even grown to the point where my self worth is tied up into my business. I can’t distinguish Lake Vienna and my other businesses from my own personal identity.
You could almost say that they’re natural extensions of yourself.
Of course. It's kind of like looking into a mirror sometimes, and in that way I'm very grateful.
What is your story of discovering Archive Fashion? What was your life like during that time?
I was in college around that time and I was hungry to make a change with how I dressed. At that point in my life I had gone through the streetwear phase and the pseudo-like menswear phase. I had my beginnings in vintage clothing, where I was wearing flannels with the raw denim, Clark's, and the likes. It was a whole thing, and I was hungry to elevate my perspective in what I was wearing.
I was first introduced to Archive Fashion through a friend Elliot who I went to university with. Essentially Elliot had shown me his Instagram and some of the stuff that his friend Nick was collecting. Suddenly I had this awakening of like, wow, the grass is greener, and there really is all this other stuff out there that has a high barrier to entry in terms of price points and requires knowledge to be able to make informed decisions. From there I quickly adapted and liquidated pretty much everything that I had within two months and reinvested into some core pieces. My first real archive piece was a pair of 2011 Ann Demeulemeester Corset Vitello Boots.
Fast forward to now, how do you feel your personal style and taste have changed because of Archive Fashion?
So I've purchased so many articles of clothing at this point. I’ve had the opportunity to share and sell them to the community that I've grown while also making so many mistakes in buying things for myself, which I'm actually grateful for. Through this platform I can take risks on my own personal wardrobe and make mistakes that aren’t going to work personally for me. But these pieces would work for someone else, and so I can redistribute these pieces of clothing and share them appropriately with the audience.
Would you say that your own personal style has also effected your approach towards Lake Vienna?
I think the shop has always mirrored my personal taste, and that's something I'll never let go of that may at the end of the day hold me back because I will never relinquish my personal taste in the curation. At the end of the day I want to sell things that I want to see other people wear. If all of the clothing fit me properly, half the stuff in Lake Vienna would be in my personal wardrobe! We all have our own personal bias in curation and I think that in that vein the shop is like looking into a mirror.
Give us a rundown on Lake Vienna’s original Enns Worker Jacket.
The Enns Worker Jacket features a waxed material with a 14-ounce cotton canvas. It has RiRi Italian cobrax buttons all throughout a hidden button enclosure. The breast pockets have been kind of lowered, and also includes waist pockets. And then on the back we have these darting buttons, buttons on the wrist. Just a very elevated minimalist piece. From initial conception to finalized design, the jacket took me around nine months to create.
In terms of elements from the jacket and the design ideology, I implemented my favorite pieces from all of the trucker jackets that I've gotten in hand. The hidden button enclosure is inspired by Rick Owens. The lowered breast pockets are reminiscent of a Levi's 1940s / 1950s Type 2 Jacket. I had a Visvim 101 Jacket which has lowered pockets and hidden zipper RiRi enclosures on the side. And then it has a slight waxing to it that is reminiscent of Helmut Lang’s Wax Trucker Jacket. The Enns Worker Jacket is a culmination of all these trucker jackets that I've come to know and love, that I've gotten in hand before, that I've touched, felt, and sold. I utilized all the design elements that I like and combined it into one amalgamation that I can share with everyone.
Tell us about your other business ventures in addition to Lake Vienna.
I would love to talk about them. Luna is a project that me and Sebastian Moraga of ‘Shop Don't Tell’ started in 2019. We were doing the same thing right around the same time, and we were trying to figure out how we could live and sustain our lives off of selling Japanese designer clothing while also living a comfortable lifestyle. It’s unique in that not many people want to do it as a full time job and be able to pay their rent and feed themselves.
We initially shared this ideology of leveraging this into doing women's clothing and validate our curation even further. We bought around 100 pieces and then he approached me and was like, “Hey, I designed two rings. Do you want to do this as a complementary thing to the curation?” and I was like sure let's do it. The response was crazy for how small our followings were back then. We sold 50 units of our jewelry during the first weekend alone. From there we started out building new projects, new products, and we now have tons of rings that we've created at this point. A few bracelets, a bag, earrings, and I guess I'll just say right now, but we'll also be releasing our first piece of clothing for Luna which is a pair of techwear minimalist paneled cargo pants. We're in the sampling process right now, but expect that to be coming in the near future.
Our other venture is No Maintenance. We saw it as a marketing opportunity because the vintage market is enormous. We’re leveraging our own unique perspectives into providing uniforms for people and providing minimalist basics, and although we want to validate our curation through getting 40s, 50s, 70s items, we also want to be able to provide accessible and affordable uniforms for people. We essentially just want to fill this market gap of providing elevated minimalist basics in the vintage world and scaling up while also offering original products that we can't find ourselves.
What is your take on people’s ever-changing perception of fashion? What types of trends do you think will pick up traction in the near future?
Fashion is always reactionary to whatever is going on. Things become popular for a reason. Things become affordable to the expensive thing out there. I think that the future of fashion is this post-archive world that we live in where products are going to be informed by the designs that we’ve come to know and love, and now we have the access the information to understand them. As Rick Owens says, you don't want to keep your references right in front of your face. You want them to be this distant memory that you have and then you can create products from the memory. The future of fashion will be about giving life back into the designs that we had 10-20 years ago that will become popularized again.
What are your thoughts on expanding Archive Fashion content to TikTok?
TikTok is the current frontier of businesses and just sharing your own personal cultivated story, whether its showing behind-the-scenes videos of packing up orders or even sharing runway clips. Videos are the most encapsulating media format known to mankind. We can't ignore the power of video because people are glued to their phones, that's why TikTok has had such a big push.
I want to see more TikTok content from fashion people, and I want to see myself do it too. It's a final frontier for myself in a way that I want to hop on it and start putting out consistent content. The only way to elevate the platform is by sharing your own story with a different perspective. The constant conundrum that we all got stuck in is that there aren’t many fashion influencers on TikTok.
“No one is going to watch my videos.”
“I don't know how to fit contextually into a crowd.”
“It's all dance videos. It's all comedy videos.”
Be the change you want to see, you know? Make the videos and be the things that you want to see that could fill this gap. We're going to see a lot of influencers in the fashion sphere hop onto TikTok and I think they're going to see immense success.
What are your long term goals in regards to your businesses and even yourself as an individual?
In terms of Lake Vienna, I think Lake Vienna will always maintain a constant curation and the sharing of pieces that I find meaningful at competitive price points. We’ve gotten to a point of scarcity in the market where prices are adjusting accordingly and things are not as they were a year ago, and I now buy things for prices I would have scoffed at a year ago. We’re also going to grow with Lake Vienna’s original product offerings, like our Arco necklace we made in collaboration with Furniture Archive.
In regards to myself, now that I've had enough experience with physical product offerings and building my own line of products, I can leverage my perspective into helping brands monetize their businesses through my creative consulting services. And just help these brands build a world that is going to cater to their audience properly.
Lake Vienna: lakevienna.com
No Maintenance: nomaintenance.us
Luna Umeko: lunaumeko.com
Interviewer: Casino Riv
Intro Writer: Khan Delin