Many of us dream of a free spirited existence that allows us to indulge in our most passionate loves, but for vintage hoarder Sara Thomas, that dream is a reality. As the one-woman powerhouse behind vintage brand WAISTE, Thomas has nourished her hobby into a flourishing and ever-expanding business.
“People always asked me where I got my clothing from and always seemed to sigh when I said it was vintage,” says Thomas. “I seem to have a knack for finding great pieces, so I though why not turn the talent into a career!” It is this aptitude for discovering unique morsels of vintage that has seen WAISTE gather such an impassioned and rapid following, one that has seen the label garner over 20,000 Instagram followers and having their wares donned by high-calibre models of the moment Cara Delevinge and Georgia May Jagger.
The popularity of WAISTE extends to Thomas’ own internet presence largely in thanks to her personal fashion blog, also monikered as WAISTE.
“All my social media is interconnected and I love being able to showcase WAISTE in my outfits on my blog. I basically just wanted somewhere to document my outfits as I usually ended up forgetting everything I wear and it all went from there!”
What began as a desire to dress differently evolved into an unquenchable thirst for the old and quirky (‘I was always asking my Mum and Nana if I could go up the loft and dress up in their old clothes!’) and rummaging through discarded items in charity shops in a bid to authentically channel classic and bohemian fashion icons such as Marianne Faithful, Janis Joplin, Jane Birkin, Mary-Kate Olsen and one Stevie Nicks.
“I’ve gone from wearing every print I could find to look as crazy as possible to toning down my whole wardrobe,” says Thomas, who now prefers key pieces such as smock, midi and maxi dresses and kimonos. “I remember a lot of bad outfits, but luckily Instagram wasn’t around at the time to have any evidence of them!”
Whilst Thomas may be counting her lucky stars in that respect, a quick flick through her blog acts as a show reel of flowing skirts, crochet dresses, wide brimmed hats and a penchant for potentially gaudy patterns.
“[Blogging] has always been more of a hobby for me as I don’t have enough time to do it full time, but the opportunities it’s given me, it’s been so incredible”. One such thing that has no doubt garnered Thomas an even larger following is her recent stint modelling for Urban Outfitters.
“It’s really fun and such an unusual experience for me,” she says. “I used to work for ASOS, so I’m used to being behind the scenes on a shoot, which is where I met [the person] who booked me as a model”. It was a natural progression for the ombre-haired beauty, having always been the primary model for WAISTE, which also gives her plenty of opportunity to flex her artistic clout in co-ordinating product shoots.
“I don’t really plan collections [but instead] go for themes and start collecting product based around that’. The most recent is a mystical SS14 lookbook shot by photographer Max Hetherington and entitled Crystal Visions, combining exquisitely vivid colours with whimsical and blithe imagery that results in an enchanting showcase for the brand.”
With WAISTE expanding to include jewellery, accessories and homeware – including throws, trinket boxes and ornamental plates. Thomas says,
“I just end up finding unusual items from the most unlikely of locations”. Thomas has her heart set on stocking other brands on the website including UK crystal coveters Dixi, with whom WAISTE recently collaborated for a capsule collection.
But of course, for a woman whose livelihood is in collecting kitsch, it has to be asked; what is Sara’s favourite bit of ‘old tat’?
“There’s a lot of what people would say is “old tat” in my flat as I love collecting random things. My favourite at the moment is probably this fun velvet book with a tassel on it that actually opens and is a trinket box, it’s so unusual!” And where did she find it? Battersea car-boot, of course!
Words by Kayleigh Watson
Crystal Visions Lookbook
Photography: Maximilian Hetherington
Model: Katie Keight
Stylist: Sara Thomas
Hair and Makeup: Lulu Fullager
Assistant: Paige Mayhead