“The Dominion Building is not really a shopping destination but we’re turning it into a shopping destination,” says Randa Salloum, owner of the second-hand clothing store Collective Will. “A lot of people don't even realize that the front door is open. Anybody can walk in!”
In December 2021 Salloum moved into the brick and mortar store with R Denim after a year of being exclusively e-commerce. The shared studio is dedicated to vintage, consignment and second-hand fashion. “If you were to look at our collections side by side, they wouldn't be the same but they would be complementary,” she says of the two stores sharing one unit.
The found-fashion movement is growing exponentially in contrast to the pre-existing throwaway culture we have built. Fuelled by eco-conscious yet stylish millennials and Gen Zs, the demand for design-minded, chic, and polished spaces dedicated to thrift shipping is a welcome addition to the shopping landscape in Vancouver.
These are not your environmental advocates, they come dressed in vintage oversized designer blazers and upcycled denim.
“I'm loving to see that it's growing,” says Salloum but so far no one is approaching secondhand shopping the same way she is. “The style of clothing is so different from other people, and everyone else is different from each other. And I think it's so cool to see more and more businesses pop up because the more avenues that we can get people to shop secondhand, the better.”
It’s possible to find a pair of Cult Gaia mules or red leather python print pants in the chaos of a Salvation Army or Value Village, sure. Maybe even a matching vintage purple wool skirt and cropped jacket set. But those are gems, part of the hunt. Walk into Collective Will, and everything is a gem, right in front of you.
Salloum curates Collective Will from places all over B.C. and approximately 30% consignment. The collections she builds are always timeless designs and unique secondhand pieces that reflect her sophisticated and fashion-forward clientele who both shop and sell through her.
“What I'm doing is very different because it's also rooted in community,” she adds. Salloum has a long-standing history with secondhand fashion in Vancouver, having co-run an event called Archive, Canada's largest consignment warehouse sale for men, women and children.
“I ran that with a friend of mine and then when COVID hit we couldn't operate the event because it's such a large-scale event, like thousands of shoppers. And so I was looking for another avenue to fuel my love of secondhand,” she explains. “I wanted to find a way where I could give that purpose as opposed to just consuming for myself.”
Collective Will takes the idea of Archive but gives it a distinct Randa Salloum flair while also bringing in members of the community through a creators series that showcases local people with great style who are also making cool contributions to Vancouver.
“I've created such a great network over the last 12 years from just being media in the city. I was able to tap into my friends, my family, just my network overall to spread the word,” she says.
Salloum identifies her personal style as 90s inspired. “Anything from 90s FEM to grunge to boyfriend fit and anything in between,” she says. “I know it when I see it. So it's kind of hard to define my style, but I do stick to things that are timeless at the end of the day. It's going to be timeless.” This is very much reflected in the clothing she acquires bi-weekly for Collective Will.
It takes a lot of willpower not to keep a lot of the pieces that she finds but she promises in the last year and a half she has only ever kept six pieces she found; the rest she left for us.