While perusing Facebook for dapperQ networking opportunities and outreach, I found a kick starter project on A-Camp Unofficial Social Group. It was a posting for a Tilt fundraising campaign for a second hand vintage online store geared towards the dapper style called FUTURE IS THE FUTURE. I pushed “like”, shared it on my page and moved on.
Later, I posted an advertisement for our Brooklyn Museum fashion show Dec. 6th, and in the comments someone had posted a connection to Natalia Manzocco, the creative visionary behind FUTURE IS THE FUTURE. Was this a dapperQ connection or what?!?!
I soon followed up with Natalia, asking if she would be interested in an interview. This good humored, up and coming Toronto fashionista was more than happy to answer some questions. Here is what she had to say.
dapperQ: Tell us a little about yourself.
Natalia: My name is Natalia Manzocco, and I’m a 27-year-old writer/editor living in Toronto. I write about fashion and lifestyle news, I play guitar and drums, and am the proud owner of a fluffy cat named Seamus. My three greatest weaknesses are as follows: Beer, cheese, and Hannah Hart.
dapperQ: How did you come up with this idea?
Natalia: It started when I decided I wanted to buy an awesome vintage tux – but was worried I wouldn’t find something that would work semi-well with my hips and waist. I thought, “What if there was an online vintage store that showed how pieces looked and fit on people of more than one gender?” After all, with the variation in cuts of vintage clothing from one decade to the next, “men’s” and “women’s” distinctions can really only tell you so much.
I thought about it a bit (while reading and re-reading the chapters of Sophia Amoruso’s GIRLBOSS about her early days starting a vintage store on eBay). Eventually I realized that there were probably a whole lot of people (inside and outside the gender binary) who would be interested in the exact same concept – and that there didn’t seem to be anyone out there approaching vintage and secondhand clothing through this sort of lens.
dapperQ: What inspired the name “FUTURE IS THE FUTURE”?
Natalia: I didn’t want the name to focus too closely on the gender-neutral concept – I felt like it should just be a name I thought was cool, since I wanted to create a space that felt open to all kinds of people. So named it after a song by one of my favourite bands, the excellent and ridiculous Electric Six. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, hints at a positive message (though what that is, I’m not entirely sure), and means I now get that “We’ll karaoke all night long!” chorus stuck in my head every time I talk about my business. Which I’m fully on board with.
dapperQ: What is your process for picking out clothes for FITF?
Natalia: First off, a piece has to be well-made and in reasonably good condition. The next big question I ask: Can I see a modern person working this into their wardrobe, or will it look more frumpy and dated than cool? Can I imagine different people styling this in different ways? I’m also a sucker for great-looking and great-feeling fabrics – there’s a pair of wool Riani slacks I thrifted that feel like butter that I just couldn’t leave on the shelf. Priority is given to real-deal vintage pieces, but if I find something from a modern retailer and start getting irrationally angry that someone donated this masterpiece to the thrift store, into the cart it goes.
dapperQ: You have something unique going with the way you list and sell your clothing items. Please tell us – what sets you apart? And how you came up with this idea?
Natalia: My original plan was to sell the clothing completely by measurement, offering hip, waist, sleeve, chest, length etc. measurements of each garment in inches, as well as notes on the fit (is it big in the shoulder, is it loose through the body, etc. etc.) However, I know I’m also personally pretty damn lazy, and not everyone might want or be able to measure themselves.
So I’m planning to also make the marked size and relative sizing info available, just so people can compare to items they already own. (Say, “jacket marked size 38 – chest 38; waist 40; length 44; fits like a men’s S / women’s L”).
dapperQ: What type/style of clothing will FITF have available?
Natalia: So far, it’s a nice mix of dapper/classic (tweed blazers and button-downs), sporty (minimalist sweaters and letterman jackets), relaxed (fisherman sweaters and Levi’s), and glamorous (SPARKLES).
dapperQ: Who is your targeted clientele?
Natalia: Folks of any gender expression and orientation who care about how they look, have a signature style all their own, and want to score something awesome on a budget. (Very few things on the site will break the $50 mark, with most around $30).
dapperQ: How can we access your store?
dapperQ: What’s your shipping process?
Natalia: I’m planning to ship everything myself (wrapped in glittery-confetti tissue paper, natch) by letter post to keep costs low. Accessories will ship for about $5 worldwide, and clothing items will start at $8 and go up depending on where you live.
dapperq: Who makes your handcrafted accessories? Which vendors are you working with and what are they providing?
Natalia: I’m working with a bunch of small businesses, mostly based in Toronto. There’s Just Sultan, who makes some really beautiful reversible bowties, pocket squares and lapel pins, and Fitzy, a local leather goods designer who’s contributing some great tie-on leather bowties and wallets. Moonlight For Violet is another local line I’m a huge fan of – she makes these great geometric-shape stud earrings that come in a million colours and go with literally everything. On top of that, I’ve got a bunch of pride-flag friendship bracelets handmade by an independent queer crafter I found on Etsy – for those times when you want to wear a subtle signifier of your identity, and that rainbow-flag graphic T-shirt doesn’t jive with your outfit (hopefully, that’s your life too).
dapperQ: How have people responded to FITF?
Natalia: I’m actually incredibly heartened by the response I’ve had so far. I’ve pitched the idea to queer folks, straight folks, people I know in the Toronto fashion scene – and all of them have told me they think the idea is really smart and that there’s a niche for it.
dapperQ: Where is FITF based out of?
Natalia: My apartment in Toronto’s Greektown, and an offsite storage area, because nobody likes cat dander on their vintage clothing.
dapperQ: Can you tell us about your community and how FITF fits in?
Natalia: I’ve recently been becoming more involved in the city’s fashion scene and forging a lot of connections with small businesses and designers. Working with them has made getting this project off the ground so much easier – from people lending me their spaces for photo shoots to supplying me with stock to offering business advice.
dapperQ: What are your goals for FITF?
Natalia: Create an aesthetically-appealing, awesomely-edited online shopping destination, provoke a few people into thinking about why clothing is so thoroughly gendered (and explore ways to de-binarize it), unite some fantastic secondhand items with happy homes, introduce some small Toronto designers to a larger audience, and have some fun.
dapperQ: Does FITF have a mission statement?
Natalia: “Don’t let clothing aisles tell you what to do”. You feel fabulous in a snug-fit plaid blazer or a loose, chunky sweater or a leather bowtie or sparkly earrings? Then put that stuff on your person, and roll out the door feeling like a million bucks. You do you.
dapperQ: Anything else you wish to tell us?
Natalia: Support other androgynous-focused fashion businesses! Greyscale Goods, HauteButch, Veer, Bindle and Keep, Marimacho — vote with your cash as much as possible, and it’ll give them the additional buying power to make those businesses as accessible and affordable as possible.
About the author: Natalie Coblentz is a traveling Jane of all trades producer. She is currently serving as dapperQ’s West Coast Events Coordinator an was the mastermind behind producing dapperQ’s first runway show at CalAcademy for Pride 2014! With her fun filled networking skills, she jumps from project to project helping other people’s dreams come true. Natalie is skilled in music, art, science, engineering, horticulture, is passionate about Mother Nature, promises to reduce, reuse, recycle, or refuse, never stops thinking, always wants to help, is known to cry at commercials, dances everywhere she goes, creates ideas to better society in a peaceful way, and is known to play hard at the gym. If you need something done, Natalie will do it well.