Andrew Vincent’s boutique, Public Image Vintage, is named after the English post-punk group Public Image Ltd – so it’s fitting that the shop’s headquartered a few doors down from Radio-Active Records in Fort Lauderdale. The neighborhood is all hemmed together nicely: local businesses drawing inspiration from each other and working together. In fact, Vincent premiered his shop’s wares at Radio-Active on Record Store Day in April.
Public Image Vintage is a welcome break from the extremes that are, seemingly, the only options for vintage shopping in this city: beautiful but high-priced, messy but still high-priced, average and low-priced. The boutique offers quality gems affordably, which reflects its foundation as a D.I.Y. production: Vincent strove to create the best space to showcase his goods via refurbishing, renewal, and saving; resurrecting and choosing a vintage piece requires at least one of those tasks, too. Keeping the cost low makes that kind of hard work accessible to the rest of us.
Of the company’s beginnings, Vincent explains, “When I look back on my decisions and realize my trail, it becomes apparent that every single decision I’ve made in the past forms a specific pattern that connects me to the next one.” So what did the trail of decisions that led him to Public Image look like? It began with, says Vincent, “a video gig I found that covered social events on the weekends – bar mitzvahs and parties. Eventually, I saved enough to either put toward grad school or potentially open a business.” The latter happened after, he explains, “traveling and thrifting in various states. I came across cool stores that had similar ideas to what I’m doing – putting together a curated, affordable collection of vintage and upcycled goods.”
As for the aforementioned refurbishing, that applies to both the shop and its “upcycled” (recycled but improved) clothes. What Vincent wanted “was something to complement the products I’m carrying. Just like every piece that’s in the shop – unique with the lives of generations past – the motif of the store needed to parallel that. I think that was accomplished by reviving old doors from the ’50s and using them as housing for the apparel. My friend Jesse at True To Form was the inspiration who helped create the atmosphere.
“Besides,” he adds, “I’m way more inclined to keep business independent and American – every bit counts.”
Indeed, refurbishing all his pieces and maintaining the spirit of locality is part of Vincent’s sociopolitical ethos. When it comes to vintage clothing, he says, “[Using] a socialistic mindset, you can feel like an activist fighting against evil corporations. By upcycling, you’re not giving money to the corporations who outsource their products to countries that employ child labor and sweat shops. I can’t support that. We often forget how good we have it in America.” There’s a more superficial benefit to vintage clothing, too, one that’s less socially significant but still reason enough to open a store: “Second-hand and reworked clothes are one-of-a-kind,” says Vincent. “You won’t find someone else wearing what you’ve got on. As a bonus, if you’re wearing something twenty years old and it’s in good condition, you can bet it’s going to hold up for another lifetime. That’s the way clothes were made back then – to last.”
At the risk of jinxing it, it seems Public Image Vintage, too, arrived at a ripe enough time for it to last. The city’s creative community is growing and Vincent is “doing [his] best to contribute” to the locally-owned, for-us-by-us attitude. “The most rewarding compliment I’ve received is how good it feels to see a new independent business opening up and not some cost-effective minimal chain that not only snakes people out of culture, but tries to manufacture culture thorough corporate branding,” he says. “If there is one thing I hope to do, it’s inspire others to roll the dice and take a chance on something new that can offer local people a new market of goods. I’ve been working with other independent businesses in the area to help put on local events, and I’m just happy to be a part of it. I’ll always support indie designers and help them get their start.”
Public Image Vintage is located at 831 N Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale. For hours call 954-533-4920, or visit here.