Julia Marzovilla, June, 18 2017
Vintage shop The Break was born in a closet in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. Founder Hannah Richtman, an avid vintage collector and stylist knew she had too many good pieces to keep them hidden away.
The brand began online, with her friends shooting shopable collections featuring her vintage finds, all at affordable prices. The first brick and mortar store came to volition in December 2016, at the edge of Williamsburg and Greenpoint. "With the store, I wanted to create best retail experience I could imagine – a gorgeous space filled with natural light and pieces reminiscent of the runway that don’t break the bank.” Says Richtman over email. And that’s what she got: a store complete with rare vintage pieces and a staff that serves rosé.
The inspiration for The Break came out of Richtman's own desire to combine sustainability and fashion. "Textiles are the second largest source of pollution, after oil” She says."The Break recycles clothing, preventing it from ending up in a landfill and further degrading our planet.” The store also encourages visitors to bring their own used clothes to donate to charities such as “Hour Children” which aims to help former and currently-incarcerated women and children successfully re-integrate into their normal communities.
On if she’ll ever come to Los Angeles, Richtman says that’s it’s not impossible: "People always think we started in LA and expanded to NY, which is interesting. Our overall atmosphere is very relaxed and fun loving.” As far as her plan for The Break? An entire lifestyle brand: "We want to create our own collection of products and open a space that is totally multi-purpose – retail, bar, restaurant, hotel, salon…the works! Wherever The Break goes, I will stay true to our values – inclusivity, affordability and friendship.”
POST SHOOT INTERVIEW WITH DESIGNER HANNA RICHTMAN
Damaged / Goods: Hannah, please tell us where your love and passion for vintage clothing comes?
Hannah Richtman: I love the hunt! Growing up, I used to willingly spend all of my free time in a thrift store or driving along the highway looking for antique barns or garage sales -- just for the thrill of finding something I’d never seen before. Most of my friends think it’s so overwhelming, but I ended up making a career out of it! I love that I can recreate runway looks with very little money, and that most pieces are one-of-a-kind or hand-made. There’s just an essence with vintage clothing that you can’t feel from high street brands – it’s that perfect combination of history, quality, and exclusivity.
Damaged: When did you start utilizing vintage pieces from your own personal collection to create garments?
Hannah: I’ve been collecting since middle school, and some of those pieces I still have and use! Now I source 2-3 times per week and I don’t keep anything for myself unless it fits perfectly and I plan on wearing it the next day. As the brand grows, my personal wardrobe becomes more concise.
Damaged: The Break is a great example that you can create fashionable pieces by combining recycled textiles with a good sense of style. Who are you sourcing for?
Hanna: We all have a Break Babe inside of us. A Break Babe is someone with confidence and a strong sense of personal style. They love to dance and take photos. They are kind, optimistic and intelligent. A Break Babe has no fear.
Damaged: Do you feel like it is a duty to our generation to raise awareness on utilizing organic and natural sources from recycled fabrics?
Hannah: Absolutely! Recycling clothing, whether it’s buying or donating, prevents textiles from ending up in a landfill; which is the second largest source of pollution after oil. We can combat the damage by each doing our part to become more aware and responsible. I also think that by creating a shopping experience that is environmentally friendly as well as aesthetically elevated and fun, it makes doing your part effortless.
Damaged: How can an eco friendly brand like The Break expend while staying affordable?
Hannah: I refuse to raise prices, so right now it’s about keeping the store stocked with inventory and maintaining customer loyalty. Because demand has increased, we’re starting to bring in small brands that align with our mission – affordable, relevant, and effortless. We want to sell products that enhance our community’s lifestyle, starting with flowers, ceramics, accessories, and continuing with wine, coffee, home wares, and furniture. Hopefully we’ll be able to start producing our own collection this year!
Damaged: Can you tell me more about your desire to have non profits involved and your brand values of inclusivity?
Hannah: Working with local charities is incredibly rewarding. In this political climate, it is so important to use whatever resources you have, even if that’s just your voice, to resist injustice. The Break is a safe space for everyone, no matter their race, religion, ability, gender, sexuality, or opinion on my outfit.
Aurelien: What is your favorite Rosé?
Hannah: 2013 Luis Alegre Rioja Rosado Flores. I tried it at a restaurant and immediately wrote down the name in my notes. But, honestly, I’m not picky!
What’s your damage?
Hannah: Deciding to pursue fashion over musical theater. I trained my entire life with tunnel vision to Broadway, and at the last minute (after I had applied to several universities to study theater), I stopped cold turkey. I then went to the London College of Fashion before moving to New York and throwing myself into the fashion industry. I still have a hole in my heart that yearns for the stage, but I am so glad I’m a businesswoman and wouldn’t be here without taking that risk!
Interview DAMAGED / GOODS
The Break @shopthebreak
Director of Retail and Events @isabelleestrin