Pretty Genius vintage pop-up shop launches in San Francisco

Vintage selection at a Pretty Genius pop-up sale.
      Vintage clothing has grown in popularity, going from “thrift” and “secondhand”, to being considered top fashion in its ability to complement contemporary styles to great effect.  This is due in part to the increased visibility of vintage clothing as worn by top models and celebrities, such as Chloe Sevigny, Kate Moss, Tatiana Sorokko and the Olsen twins, Mary Kate and Ashley.  Vintage pieces are also important because they have influenced later designers and continue to inspire current designers.  The increased interest in vintage is also due to its environmental sustainability in terms of reusing rather than throwing things away.
Ashley Olsen in a vintage Calvin Klein dress and accessories. -Getty Images
    The accessibility and ease of shopping vintage has been made easier through vintage pop-up shops that carry a range of clothing that has already been carefully selected for both quality and fashionability.  This weekend, Erin Weinger and Renee Shaab of LA based pop-up shop Pretty Genius is bringing their collection of vintage to San Francisco for a special one-day sale in the Mission.  We had a the opportunity to find out more about the vintage pop-up shop through Erin and what sets them apart from others.
FF:  How did Pretty Genius start?
Erin:  We held our first sale in January of 2011after a late night conversation about what we wanted to do with our lives. I literally asked Renee (who I had gone to Indiana University
with) “What job wouldn’t feel like a job to you?” and she replied, “vintage shopping.” And we decided to host a sale right then and there.

FF:  Why the pop-up shop concept versus having a store front?
ErinThe pop-up concept makes more sense for us than a store for a few reasons — low overhead, for one. Plus we both have full time jobs — I’m a journalist who publishes the L.A.-based fashion website while Renee works as a luxury hotel account manager.  We started this as a fun passion project that, excitingly, has started to take on a life of its own.  Its so great for us to be able to invite our friends and clients to our events once a month and have them see all of the new merchandise we’ve sourced, rather than us having to stand around a shop and wait for business to come in. The excitement that we see in our customers really fuels our own passion for Pretty Genius.
Pretty Genius vintage pop-up shop
FF: Describe the shopping experience people can expect at the pop-up sale?
Erin:  Our sales are casual, comfortable and cozy and feel like an informal closet-raid at one of your friend’s houses. There’s no pressure, we have music playing and plenty of food and cocktails.  Even our friends who loathe vintage clothes end up hanging out for the day, drinking our booze and enjoying themselves a lot.

We carry clothes that feel timeless and unique, and we try to source goods that will help our customers feel confident while wearing them.  We like pieces that make us giddy because of a special detail —whether it’s a ruffle on a 1970s silk shirt or a piece of fringed velvet on a belt — we like to sell items that can’t be found anywhere else. We’re both obsessed with dresses, so those who stop by will find those for sure. But we also have some pretty amazing skirts (think leather, silk, suede, etc.) in various lengths, fantastic blazers, caftans, quirky and cozy sweaters and literally a wall of purses.

And yes, there’s plenty of expertise here. My partner Renee is amazing when it comes to working with clients and urging them to be daring in the fitting room — 9 out of 10 times she’s right on the money when it comes to styling our customers in pieces that they might otherwise overlook. While I have worked in fashion for years, first as an intern for an Indie fashion label in college and later as a fashion writer for the LA Times and a contributor to,, Los Angeles Magazine, Angeleno and of course on my own website, I do digital branding consulting for fashion brands, and have also produced photo shoots for my website as well as Entrepreneur magazine and styled the City of Newport Beach 2011 Visitors Guide. My grandmother was a hat designer and my grandfather owned a popular Chicago women’s boutique, so I like to think that style is literally in my blood.

FF: Why the expansion from Los Angeles to San Francisco?
Erin:  We decided to expand for the simple reason that we are both obsessed with San Francisco! No joke. When I’m bored, I look at Victorian houses in Pac Heights that I would die to be able to afford one day.  And I think we both would love to live in the area one day in the future.  Since we both have a lot of friends here that have been really supportive of Pretty Genius, we decided that this was the perfect weekend to take a road trip and test out a new market!
FF:  Thank you for inspiring vintage and we wish you great success and many return visits to San Francisco!
Updates on the Pretty Genius vintage pop-up shop can be found at their twitter handle or by emailing them at
The pop-up sale in San Francisco is taking place on Sunday, January 15, 2012 from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm in the Mission at 3551 24thStreet, Apartment B (at Guerrero Street) in San Francisco.  

Shop silk blouses, high-waist leather skirts, mesh cocktail dresses, tweed heritage blazers and more.  Most retailing under $50.  Brands include Ungaro, Calvin Klein, Bally, St. John and much more.

Make sure to come early for the best selection and a rule of thumb is vintage shopping is one instance where impulse shopping is ok because every item is one of a kind – if you don’t get it right then and there, it might not be available later!
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