When asked why she named Franny Vintage after her late grandmother, Kerry Butt said, "Because it's fucking hilarious! She'd be really embarrassed and yell at me, 'Couldn't you think of anything better?!'"
Her store is just as unpretentious: the small Parkdale space houses a rack or two of dresses, a few separates, some shoes and accessories scattered about, and stacks of Cheap Mondays and Alternative Apparel tees. Simple, straight-forward, cheap, fun--easy.
"Our prices are really awesome--I feel bad charging over $40 for a dress," said Butt. "I can't stand the places around town that charge $140 for the same dress."
After merchandising for by-the-book retail giants like H&M, Butt stays away from the expected. She skips the predictable wild sixties polyester print jobs in favour of sturdy, colourful shifts and wild-patterned frocks of interesting cut, such as a sleeveless pink linen belted dress ($30) or green-and-white striped summer dress with polka-dot trim ($36), and the black-and-white tiered see-through pinstripe dress with a rose splashed on here and there ($38).
There are a few stand-out pieces--I loved the canary-yellow linen t-shirt dress with tasseled Chinese knot buttons ($40)--although a lot of the fare runs toward more everyday dresses. (The wackier dresses like the mini in fuschia suede, or the blood-red acid-wash denim number, being the obvious exception!)
(And, if you're shopping for your boyfriend, there's what Butt dubs the "lesbians and boyfriends section," which is frequented by, said Butt, "gays and skinnies," and, of course, boyfriends. Here you'll find a selection of vintage cowboy shirts, in small and medium sizes.)
One way Franny Vintage is staying afloat during these tough times is their offering of non-vintage wares, including Cheap Monday and Levi jeans ($70--$100), organic cotton basics from Alternative Apparel ($25--$44), and deconstructed cowboy shirts ($40) and dresses ($35) crafted from vintage clothes by local company Snap. "Vintage is slowing down, so I need to offer something more than vintage," Butt said. "If I didn't have the jeans, I'd be fucked!"
Bargain-hunters in need of some good shoes to go with their denim should check out the shoes--most are in the $35 range, and there's always interesting footwear here, from low colourblocked heels to strappy red sandals. Ten--dollar scarves, a sequined sleeveless shirt, or one of Butt's wacky purses are other wallet-friendly ways to refresh a recession-era wardrobe.
Photos by Eugen Sakhnenko