Vaso Voulgari wants to invite you into her home. Her secret vintage showroom is tucked away in one of East Berlin’s most significant buildings – though she’ll only tell you the address if you book an appointment. Most people discover Voulgari via her Instagram account, where she showcases her latest finds with refreshing normalcy.
Only a very specific kind of person would be thrilled by the concept of inviting strangers into her home. “I really want to know where my clothes are going. I like to put a face to a name, to hear the stories of my customers — where they’ve been, what they’re doing. It’s therapeutic for both of us I think!” Voulgari has a background in visual merchandising, and worked at other vintage stores before going it alone.
Voulgari hails from Greece — something to which she attributes her inherent ability to make strangers feel warm and welcome — and she spent 15 years in Athens before committing to her Berlin relocation. Her interest in vintage buying and collecting began long before it was trendy in Athens. “I started going to flea markets, and wore only vintage or secondhand clothes, from about the age of 20 onwards. Nobody did that in Athens at the time. Still there are many people that won’t.”
She turned her unique personal style into a fortifiable source of income more or less by accident. “During the peak of the financial crisis in Greece, I lost my job. I desperately needed cash and so I decided to sell some of my clothes. I had a huge collection of stuff that I wasn’t wearing so often. I just posted them on Facebook, and made 900 Euro in a week.” Her knack for curation collided head-on with many vintage stores’ foreclosure (which she had quite the inside scoop on, thanks to her aunt, who worked for the Greek IRS). According to Voulgari, there are whole warehouses full of top notch vintage clothing in Greece — due to the financial situation and the general cultural distaste for vintage clothes. Even though she’s based in Berlin, she still buys exclusively in Greece.
After cutting her teeth at various vintage retailers, Voulgari decided that the “shop life” wasn’t for her. The formality of the shop environment felt austere, she explains, and she was left craving more creative control. “I started posting my clothes in Sell Your Stuff Berlin, which is a market of 50,000 people, and I couldn’t believe how much feedback I got!” she recalls of the moment that prompted her to set up her Berlin showroom. “I didn’t have access to a store-front, but I had the space at home, so I figured, why not?”. What began as a temporary concept brought her more success than ever before, her great eye for ’80s and ’90s pieces paired with her talent for warm hospitality proving a winning combination.
Voulgari is proud to cater to a broad range of clientele. She carries both mens and womenswear for a variety of occasions (meaning you can find your next Gegen look on the same rack as an office-appropriate blouse). The showrooms racks are filled with a wide selection of vintage sportswear, namely Adidas and Reebok. Voulgari says her average customer is usually female, in between the ages of 18 and 40, and she’s built relationships so strong that she will buy with certain customers in mind during her shopping trips to Greece. “I don’t want people to think, Oh I’m going to this showroom to buy clothes,” she says of the selling ethos. “I want them to think, I’m going to spend an afternoon with Vaso — and will leave with something amazing”.Voulgari doesn’t see an official storefront in her future: her plan for 2018 is to “keep the private and personal idea” but to move the showroom into an artist studio.