The serendipitous story of Eric Eriksson’s legacy begins in Smålandstenar, a pint-sized village surrounded by a deep and dark forrest in the middle of 1930s Sweden. Eric was a shoe cobbler with big dreams and a less-than-provincial spirit. On one of his errands to a nearby town he bought a beautiful coat and showed it off to his neighbors. Soon word got out and Eric was hounded by the other villagers to get more coats. And so he embarked on the 90-kilometer bike ride to get ten more. And then ten more. And ten more. Until an exasperated, but entrepreneurial Eric and his wife Ingrid built up a nice 3-story clothing boutique for men, women and children and called it Eriksson’s.
Fast forward forty years: Eric and Ingrid are ready to throw in the towel and close the shop. The old inventory however never gets cleared and becomes the playground for one very curious little girl, their granddaughter Moa. “The stock never left the rooms where they were original stored,” she says. “And they are still there in the same condition to this day. I don’t even remember when I first saw them. I do remember though, when we went to visited my grandmother [Moa never knew Eric – he passed away before she was born], the first thing I did was rummage through the maze of storage rooms.” The original price tags are still intact, and so are the wooden hangers. They display the store’s name and a two-digit (!!) phone number.
Moa’s cousin opened a store in Gothenburg, sold the men’s wear and later established Velour, a brand largely inspired by Eric’s inheritance. But Moa was looking across the pond, and after much trial and error, and getting married to a business-minded South-American who labeled their venture Granee, knocked on my door. We moved the first shipment from Sweden, along with my own large collection, to an office in Bushwick and founded Tales of Vintage. Moa and Miguel will be going back to Sweden every few months to get the next batch. There’s literally thousands of pieces left! “It’s like christmas every time I see the garments,” she smiles, “especially when I visit the stock. It’s amazing. I’m so grateful I can work with something my grandparents started. I believe my love for fashion was born in their stock room yet I never get used to the idea that it’s real.”
So, if you want to know how to build a vintage empire, do like me, and Eric Eriksson: hoard your ass off. Save all your stuff, shove it in boxes and bins and expensive storage spaces, until one day you’re so fucking sick and tired of all the amassed clutter that you want to sell it all. (I joke, of course!) And if you really want to affront people, do like Donald Trump, and call it an empire.
Finally, if you’re wondering what any of this has to do with the brave horse and sheep in my pictures, check back in on Thursday when I will answer your burning, nagging question with hard facts about poultry research.
Photos by Felix Wong.