Photo: Zaphs Zhang
Located at Far East Plaza since 2001, The Attic is a true vintage stalwart here, having first joined the scene in 1998 by operating out of flea markets and pop-ups. Operating at max capacity – it is stuffed to the brim with only a sliver of walking space left – the store sells not only vintage apparel, but also home decorations, furnishings, memorabilia, collectibles, and costumes. Its founder, Yap Chang Yen, 41, tells us how he got into collecting vintage, and what you can find at The Attic:
I have been collecting vintage for 25 years
“I have always been fascinated by products from an earlier time period, because they are mostly well thought of in both their design and quality. I started collecting trading cards, comics, action figures and posters at 16 when I was working in a collectibles store. When I was a young adult, I hung out with a group of older collectors who were up to triple my age, from whom I received good pointers on collecting antiquities, and introduced me to ’60s Japanese vinyl toys, tin litho space toys, and vintage radios. I later moved on to collecting ’60s designer furnishings, lighting, and home decor, then even curios related to medical studies. My collection is very extensive. As a collector, you are always finding new things to collect and excite yourself with. That’s how I make my life interesting.”
Everything is for sale
“Nothing from my collection is not for sale unless it’s a gift from a customer. I made that a point when I opened my vintage store. If the price is right and the person taking over it has the same passion and enthusiasm to take care of and appreciate the item for its worth, then I don’t see why I shouldn’t share it with these like minded individuals. We are all just custodians of the nostalgia after all. We can’t bring it to our graves at the end of the day but we can enjoy the process of owning it for as long as it’s worth.”
Photo: Zaphs Zhang
If I don’t have it, I can help you to look for it
“I have been collecting vintage items for more than two decades so sourcing for merchandise for our customers has never been a problem. A customer will usually let us know what they are looking for and we will see what is available at hand. If we don’t have it, we have contacts that may have it.”
I am particular about authentication and an item’s condition
“Being able to identify and authenticate vintage items comes from years of buying experience. You have to own both the reproduction and the original in order to scrutinise the differences between them. We have to make buying mistakes in order to learn from them. I call this paying school fees. Investing in related guide books and researching is also very important. Those who are aware will always gain and the ignorant ones will just miss out on a good deal.
I am strictly against replicas unless a production house requests for them as props. We deal with anything from home decorations and furnishings, to memorabilia and collectibles, to apparel and costumes – mostly things that are iconic of their era. I normally only sell things that interest me so even if it does not sell, it makes me happy just looking at them.”
A selection of vintage sportswear at The Attic. Price range: $99.99-$180.
Photo: Zaphs Zhang
My customers come to me for different reasons
“Some come to look for a childhood toy which they’ve always wanted but couldn’t afford as a kid. Some come looking for a book a loved one once read to them when they were young. I may have helped to unlock a time capsule with a happy memory for these people, which makes them come back for more. Others look for vintage fashion and accessories because they are individualistic and do not want to conform to the majority in the way they dress. There is always something for everyone in my store as long as they truly appreciate vintage. It does not matter if you are from a foreign country and does not speak the same language; if you have the same passion, your frequencies will just align and the products will just speak for themselves.”
The Attic opens on Mondays to Saturdays from 3.30 pm to 8.30 pm, and on Sundays from 3.30 pm to 7 pm. Address: 14 Scotts Road, #04-146A Far East Plaza, Singapore 228213.
A version of this story first appeared in the June 2018 issue of Her World.
Photography: Zaphs Zhang
Art Direction: Penny Seow
Grooming: Beno Lim
ALSO READ: VINTAGE FASHION WILL NEVER FADE OUT OF STYLE