Greenpoint is becoming a vintage lover’s paradise, and Brittany Pham’s MAHPs, (110A Nassau Ave) between Eckford St and Leonard St, is home to my favorite array of vintage clothes in the neighborhood. Brittany was kind and gracious in answering so many of my curiosities about what propelled her to open up shop. Fans of the 90s, supermodels, LL Bean, Clueless and The Nanny – read on to find out why this is a can’t-miss!
GP: Tell us about the inspiration to open the store.
Brittany: I’m from southern California, and I used to sell at flea markets in Los Angeles. I moved here four years ago, and I got into the flea market circuit here. I was selling at the Hester Street Fair in the city, and got into the Brooklyn Flea and became a regular vendor there. This actually all started because I used to collect vintage; I have a contemporary design background, and I used to have a clothing company called Fremont that I stopped doing. It was up and running for about six years, but it was when the economy was at its worst, so it made it really hard to be profitable. After those six years, I thought that it might be time to move onto something else. So I just collected tons of vintage stuff as inspiration, and at one point my reference library, also known as my closet, was just out of control! And I used to shop at flea markets all the time, so I thought, let me get a space at the Pasadena Rose Bowl and unload some of it. When I got set up there, I was surprised to do much better than I expected; I kept selling, and after I stopped doing Fremont, I moved out here with the goal of eventually opening a store. I saved, and did some freelance design work, and then it just became the right time.
GP: Was there anything in particular about Greenpoint that made you want to be here?
Brittany: When I first moved here, I lived in Greenpoint, over on Kent Street for about a year, and I actually still live here, just down the street from the store. I love this neighborhood – the sense of community, and how it’s still very old school. My landlord and his family have totally taken me in – they invite me to their place upstate for holidays! They’re so sweet. But in terms of finding space for the store, I looked everywhere; mainly in Greenpoint, because I was pretty sure I wanted it to be here – I also looked in Fort Greene, and all around, but it really seemed to me that this was the best place to be. (Editor’s note – we agree!) I opened on April 17th of this year. The construction took longer than I expected, but after some delays it really came together at the last minute.
GP: We’re curious – who are your style icons, and what do you look for when you’re sourcing for the store?
Brittany: Most of the inventory here is from the 90s; I’m very much inspired by the whole supermodel era, when they reigned – it was Christy, and Niki, and Naomi, and these were women who smiled and everything was so bright and vibrant. So with a lot of my stuff, when I’m sourcing, I’m really drawn to prints, colors, and textiles. In the summer, I try to look for a lot of linen and cotton, but a side effect of the 90s is that a lot of stuff was made out of rayon – which is not that bad, it’s still a natural fiber – so that comes into play too. In the winter: cottons, wools, and silks! I love knitwear and sweaters for fall and winter.
GP: As someone who genuinely loves vintage, how do you decide what to keep for yourself and what to sell?
Brittany: I’m pretty good at not holding onto stuff so much; I definitely have a small collection of finds that I’m never letting go, but that’s the good thing about the store – once I do get tired of something, I can offer it here for sale. There’s definitely pieces in the store that are extra special to me, and when people comes in and get them, and love them and appreciate them, I love that.
GP: How do you see physical retail faring against digital outlets like eBay, and Etsy, and even Nasty Gal? Is the internet a friend or foe for you?
Brittany: It’s definitely a friend! I used to sell on eBay a little bit, but it’s super tedious, and I’ve done flash sales with Fab too, which were nice, but I do feel like I should do more with technology. I’m doing more and more with listing special pieces on Instagram – those can be seen at http://instagram.com/brittanymahps.
GP: One of the best parts of vintage shopping is that it’s so environmentally sound; you’re taking something back in that’s been out there already. Is that something you focus on at all in your overall philosophy?
Brittany: Especially with stuff from the 90s, that’s when things really started to become mass-produced, so that’s why it’s easiest to find. I alter some of my stuff, so I definitely try to maximize the usage of anything extra – if I hem a long dress, I’ll always try to make a crop top or something small with that extra fabric. As we keep growing I’d actually like to get more involved in making more altered creations for the store.
GP: Give us a top five of your favorite fashion inspirations which have grounded the image for MAHPs.
Brittany: Ralph Lauren – I love classic, timeless fashion. I love the understated, basic pieces that people can easily incorporate into their wardrobes. I love LL Bean; especially in the fall and winter – flannels, jackets, they’re great for that. Do you know the brand Flax? It’s like an older-lady label, kind of like Chico’s but SO much cooler! Their stuff is always made out of linen or silk-linen, always super-basic designs, but made really well and with interesting details. I love the wardrobes in the 90s classic Clueless – this store could be in that film! I would love to have Cher Horowitz’s wardrobe. And Fran Drescher as The Nanny – she has an AMAZING wardrobe. I want it so badly.