Home / Style / Fashion / Vintage Clothing: Merchant Caitlin Bracken looks to the past as she moves fashion forward into the future

Vintage Clothing: Merchant Caitlin Bracken looks to the past as she moves fashion forward into the future

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STORY BY JOYCE-LYNN WILLIAMS | Jan/Feb 2017

Some people only recently have discovered this thing called vintage shopping, but for Caitlin Brackeen it’s more of a lifestyle!

I had a chance to sit with Caitlyn to discuss her passion for vintage clothing and what’s next for her clothing store, Alex & Afton, in Tyler, Texas.

When and where did you get your start in fashion?

I always shopped vintage clothing in high school. My mom got us hooked on to vintage T-shirts. I always wore different things from different people. I moved to California when I was 19 where I had held a very brief career in acting.

I then moved over to fashion where I ran a boutique and did some styling on the side. Clients would always want my personal clothing which I had thrifted, whether than the expensive clothing I was selling at the boutique I was running. I started an Etsy shop to sell vintage clothing. In 2011 I moved back to Texas with plans of running my own store.

Why vintage clothing?

It’s one of a kind! I love the thrill of the hunt. There are pieces that tell a story. It’s better for the environment and also a lot of the clothing was made in the USA. I love knowing how each piece is so special and so different.

How do you hunt for vintage pieces?

I go to Dallas once a week, estate sales and random vintage shops. I have good relationship with individuals so that I can go to their homes and pick in private rather than going to a Goodwill or Salvation Army (store). I prefer the estate sales because you never know what you can get.

What are misconceptions about running a vintage store?

One of the misconceptions about the store is that people think that we’re a consignment shop. We do not take in donations. People will bring in six-month-old clothing from Stein Mart and try to sell it to me like it’s vintage.

Some people do not understand. We carefully watch what we carry here. Not to hate on a resale store, but we have items that date back to the 1920s. We go to painstaking efforts to secure a well-rounded selection.

Did the location matter as far as running a vintage shop?

Yes! I didn’t think it did at first! I had a store in Mineola for six months in this beautiful vintage building but it wasn’t right for Mineola. Then I moved to Denton and that was fine for one year. This vintage house was a perfect fit.

All of my previous locations have been vintage buildings. This one just felt natural. We started with just one room in the house and now we’ve taken over all of it.

Who is Alex and Afton?

Alex is my middle name and Afton is my younger sister’s middle name.

What is the future for Alex and Afton? Maybe a second location?

Absolutely! I want to have a store in Nashville or Dallas in the next couple of years. (The year) 2017 is going to be exponential growth for us.

Joyce Williams is a fashion blogger based in East Texas.

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