The Way We Wore
334 S. La Brea Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Hours: Sun 12-6, Mon – Sat 11-7
Something I learned back when I was a visual merchandiser for a major retail chain was that, the only way to be the best at your job was to have a great team that you could delegate to. The Way We Wore is proof why owner, Doris Raymond, not only runs a successful international vintage mecca but, is able to travel the world year-round looking for the best in couture vintage AND star in a T.V. show, along with her trusty and fashionable staff, hosted by the Smithsonian Channel. Although I missed Doris when I was traveling through L.A., I believe that this interview conducted with store manager and long time friend of 20 years, Sarah Bergman, was a great way to get the behind the scenes perspective on Doris’s boho-rags to riches story.
RNR: How long have you been with the company?
SB: I opened the store with Doris about ten years ago. She’s had the business over 30 years, starting in San Francisco over on Fillmore, it use to be a costume warehouse that was by appointment. She closed it down and moved the business here, so this is now the only free-standing store she has.
RNR: You must have quite a different clientele than that of San Francisco.
SB: We’re very blessed to have a nice range. We have our A-list celebrity clientele, we have a lot of people who are great vintage collectors, and everyone one from a girl looking to buy her prom dress to someone looking for something to wear to the Academy Awards. We’re very lucky.
RNR: Do you guys offer styling services?
SB: We do offer studio services, we have a lot of stylists coming in here, a lot of top-tier stylists.
RNR: Do you have many out of town clients?
SB: We do, we actually just closed our showroom in New York, we had it open for a few years but, that was for the design industry only, it wasn’t a showroom with actual merchandise, it was for design inspiration. We had fabric swatches and embellishments and embroideries. Our clients there were all of the New York and European fashion industry. But we found now that people are starting to come back to the west coast. We still occasionaly do appointments in New York for our long term clients.
RNR: Did that come about due to the demand for vintage couture?
SB: Well, Doris kinda started doing that before she moved to Los Angeles, it was a burgeoning industry. It’s so difficult to find the actual physical examples to work from, for designers. So Galliano, McQueen, or everyone from the smallest designer to the biggest chains come in for things like, sleeve detail, pocket detail, embroidery examples, things like that.
RNR: Can you tell me how Doris launched the business?
SB: Well, she’ll tell you, she was a hippy! She started by doing flea markets back in the day when flea markets were just beyond awesome…would make your head swim if you could remember how amazing they use to be. Yeah, so she just accumulated enough to open a store and went from there.
RNR: And she just started with what she could find and later started to curate a collection and then onto couture?
SB: Yeah, the demand for couture didn’t really start cultivating until the 90’s when people started to recognize vintage couture as a collectable.
RNR: And style became inspired from the past.
SB: I think more that people never before recognized clothing as a valid art form. Craftsmanship doesn’t exist anymore as it use to. It’s such a rare and beautiful thing that people have actually accepted it at that level now.
RNR: So many tasteful and beautiful pieces, how many buyers do you have?
SB: It’s just her, sometimes I’m lucky enough to go with her. She travels the world looking for these pieces; she’s traveling now. She’s got life figured out in a way, the shopping pays for the traveling and the traveling pays for the shopping.
RNR: Were you educated in vintage before you started working here?
SB: I’ve been doing this for over 20 years, I met Doris in San Francisco, and when she moved to Los Angeles 10 years ago, I was already living here and we just hooked up again and I helped her open the store.
RNR: Do you one day aspire to have your own vintage store?
SB: Oh, no. I’m at the love level, I don’t need to be at the headache level.
RNR: Well, you must at least have an awesome personal vintage collection.
SB: (Slyly) Yeah…I think so, I think so. You always want more, but I’m pretty happy.
RNR: Being one of the more prominent vintage couture places in the city, are there a lot of extended social invitations?
SB: Doris is very blessed that she does. She’s more on the museum and curatorial tip than the social fashion events. We actually just went to Seattle for the Kyoto 30 years of fashion exhibit. That’s how much she loves it, that she will go that far.
RNR: What would you say is the coolest travel experience you’ve had thanks to this job?
SB: Oh my gosh, there’s been so many! That’s what I like about vintage, everything…everyday is an adventure. Doris and I have gone to some amazing places over the years… one time we went to a little town in Texas where a woman had a general store that she had closed after her husband died in the late 60’s and it never opened up until she was ready to close out the store. So we got to walk into this general store that had been untouched since the early 60’s…like all the shelves were stocked with merchandise that was put out in 1962, and never moved. So that was fascinating to just see a store that was frozen in time, and to get to go shop the back rooms. That was amazing!
You can see Doris and her staff prepping on the Smithsonian Channel. Here’s one of my favorite episode clips from The Smithsonian Channel’s L.A. Frock stars: