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Spotlight on independent retailers: Waceland

By Rachel Douglass


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Retail |Interview

Image: Waceland

The face of Newcastle’s shopping streets has changed over the years, as a new generation of shoppers enter the scene with new demands and a fresh set of values. Georgia and Jordan Stanley responded to the increase of interest in sustainable fashion, with their own take on the movement; a handpicked vintage and streetwear store, Waceland.

Their first physical and long-term location, which opened in 2018, is tucked away in Newcastle’s historic Central Arcade, on Grainger Street, and brings together the brand’s defining characteristics of high-quality and pre-loved finds. Following the success of their initial opening, the two extended their message into another location, which launched in Durham in 2021, on Saddler Street.

FashionUnited spoke with one half of the brother-sister duo, Georgia, on the idea behind Waceland, her perspective of the ever-changing retail landscape and the rise of the pre-loved market.

    Name: Waceland
    Location: Newcastle and Durham
    Owner: Georgia and Jordan Stanley
    Established: 2017
    Product Categories: Handpicked vintage and streetwear, reworked
    Brands: Palace, Carhartt, Burberry, Supreme, Kith, Vans, Moncler, Adidas, Lee, Missoni, The North Face, Nike Thrasher, Patta
Image: Waceland, Georgia Stanley

How did Waceland form?

My brother and I started Waceland in the summer of 2017 when I was in my third year of university. We used to do pop-up shops over three month periods. The first one was at the bottom of Grey Street and the second one, when I finished my fourth year of university, was in the winter following, on Highbridge Street. The summer after that was when we moved in at our current location. It was meant to start as a pop-up as well, but it has lasted much longer. I think it is a nice home for it here. It fits the arcade. We are coming up three years in this location now and we just opened a second one in Durham in July 2021. My brother runs that one.

How would you describe Waceland’s DNA?

We always go the extra mile for our customers, as being a family business we believe that customers should be treated the same way you would treat friends and loved ones. Waceland wouldn’t be the same without our amazing loyal customers so that’s why every shopper, online or in-store, is treated with the same warmth and respect as the next. If we get a message from a customer wanting a particular item, we will go the extra mile to try and source it for them, as you would do for a friend.

Who is the Waceland customer?

Waceland is primarily marketed towards our student base, for who we offer a 10 percent student discount on our vintage section. I wanted Waceland to have a community vibe with our customers, where people just come in and feel chill. There is a lot of customers that have become friends over the years and now come in for a chat or to say ‘hi’.

Image: Waceland, Newcastle

What made you decide to sell vintage specifically?

I think there is a good audience in Newcastle. At the time that we set up, there wasn’t a lot around here in terms of vintage clothing. There are a few that popped up now because everyone wants to become more sustainable and there is a lot of vintage clothing that is better quality than other brands at the minute. For example, a lot of vintage t-shirts are 100 percent cotton, whereas new ones are not. You can’t beat their quality. Even the styles were better.

You obviously don’t want vintage clothes to go to landfills, you want to reuse them and there are a lot of really good clothes where you don’t know why someone wouldn’t want to use them. I think they just need someone else to love them.

What’s the market like in Newcastle, in particular, for vintage?

It’s quite good. We get both students or people in full-time work, in their late 20s. A lot of people are interested in it and Waceland has one-off pieces you won’t find anywhere else. Even compared to other vintage shops. I think it’s a nice touch to be able to go in and get excited about what you can find.

The face of the shopping streets here has changed over the last few years. Why do you think that is?

Over the past few years, a lot more people are getting into the sustainable side of fashion, taking care of the planet and working out what has less impact on the environment. Before, and especially when I was at university, there was a lot of research on buying habits, that found that customers would buy something that was made halfway around the world and they paid two pounds for it. They wear it once then bin it. Now, they know that if you buy better it will last you longer. You might pay more for it but you get more out of it, and you can pass it on.

Image: Waceland, Durham

Do you think there are advantages to being an independent in today’s retail climate?

I feel like the pandemic has made people appreciate what is available within their communities that they maybe didn’t even know was there originally. With the travel restrictions earlier on in the pandemic, I believe it enabled everyone to see what is on their doorstep. There are so many amazing independent stores and markets that are seeing an increase in interest, which is absolutely incredible. I do think people will continue to use independent and local businesses because it gives the customer a different experience than going to a superstore. Independent stores are largely run by the owners themselves or people that are close to the business, so will do everything to make the customer happy and will go the extra mile. It’s more of a personal touch and makes you feel a part of the community.

What have been your biggest challenges since opening the store?

The most challenging factor of starting your own fashion company is to establish your footprint and for customers to discover you. Over the years, from pop-up stores to now, we engage with different markets in each location and bring our loyal customers with us into our next phase, which has been amazing. Our customers make it all worthwhile.

Have you struggled with the vintage business model at all?

It has been alright, but during the lockdown it was difficult. I always find it better to be open because I don’t like selling online as much. I feel like you are missing an experience. With vintage, it is better that you see the love that goes into it: we wash, iron and handpick. You can tell our heart has gone into what we present in the shop.

Image: Waceland, Durham

So do you then focus on physical marketing instead of digital?

We do always prefer that people come to the shop because then you get more of an experience. It feels more personal when you buy something from a person and you have that communication. It’s like a community, a little Waceland family you can be part of. I don’t think you can get that online as much.

We do get all the people from Instagram that will come in with their phone and ask if something in a picture is here and I love seeing that. You can tell they are waiting for it.

What have been your biggest learning curves?

In all honesty, I am a very cautious person, so I overthink everything and I am always over-prepared for the ‘just incase’ scenario. This is something I have had since being a part of the fashion industry and I think my past experiences have helped prepare me. I just stick to the ‘be like water’ phrase and everything will be fine.

Is there something you are looking forward to with the future of the shop?

I don’t like long-term goals, I just like to see how it goes. The Durham shop wasn’t in the works until 2021. When I feel like it’s time to do a little bit more I will push more. It’s hard to grasp at the minute, and with everything going on in the world you don’t really know what to expect. I try and do the best I can for customers. I’m in there every day and I just try and see what they want and grow with them. When I started, there was a lot more streetwear and now it is vintage so it just naturally flows with where the customers are going. We are also going into a lot more reworking now, so that is a new little branch.

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