“I’ve been wearing it since college, everyone I know has always been wearing it..I just surround myself with those kinds of people I guess”
GRAB HER BY THE KITTEN
by Dawn Alexander
Bohemian Vintage Kitten
We’re in a city that loves to encourage inner self awareness with a side of kale washed down with a turmeric shake and herbal tea but while all of this is great we can’t deny that along with feeling good we want to look good. Being hip and fashionable in Los Angeles is as important as air and despite that air being polluted and smog filled we still try to breath it. Much like our polluted fashion trends that are over branded, mass produced, slave labor produced and just simply lacking originality, we still crave it. Many have found their salvation in vintage fashion. Vintage fashion as a concept has gained momentum in the past few decades and still going strong. Vogue magazine reported in 2015 designers assisting in their 2016 vintage styled spring line. I recently saw a commercial advertising Neil Lane‘s vintage inspired wedding rings that can be found at Kay Jewelers. Whatever the reason, this retro appreciation movement proves to be here to stay for a long time. We see it in recent TV with shows like Netflix’s The Get Down. We’ve been seeing it with musical acts bringing back styles and sounds from a variety of eras. Amy Winehouse’s extreme cat eyes and bee hive, The Borns 80s synth sound, The Black Keys 70s vibe and look. We’re all over the place craving something so new that we’re looking to the old. It’s finally shining some light on those who have been rocking these styles for many years prior such as Kim Oliva, creator and owner of Bohemian Kitten Vintage, a mobile vintage boutique.
Kim started BKV as an online store via Ebay in 2008. As the sole owner and operator she runs around Los Angeles to collect a variety of clothing and accessories from various second hand shops, estate sales, costume houses, garage sales and wherever the hidden gems can be found. This is her favorite part of it all. Her passion, knowledge of couture and knack for finding gold in unlikely places gives her the advantage in this growing industry.
When I asked Kim what she thought of vintage clothing becoming more mainstream she was confused. I implied that vintage seemed to be everywhere now.
“What do you mean?” she asked “I’ve been wearing it since college, everyone I know has always been wearing it..I just surround myself with those kinds of people I guess”. She’s been in a fortunate bubble of friends that saw fashion and vintage in the same light as herself. She continues “..just like I surround myself with smart people, like I didn’t think Trump would win” She laughs, “… because I don’t know anyone that would vote for him” That’s Kim, being her honest and genuine self.
Though ‘bohemian’ is in the name this is no a “boho chic” shop. The name was inspired by her appreciation of the eras of the 1920s-60s. To Kim, the word bohemian encompasses the overall vibe of the times. A vibe not to be confused with that baggy, droopy over sized dress and bag lady trend made popular by the Olsen twins. Her mobile boutique stands out from the rest because, as she explains it, ‘it’s an extension of her creative self’. People have been known to look around the shop and just ask her “Who are you?” She sells the things she too would want to wear but everyone always fits into her shop no matter who you are or what your style is. Each customer receives personal attention and is encouraged out of their insecurities when they hesitant to buy something they clearly love but feel like it’s “not them”. A common theme she finds is people liking an item, trying it on, it fitting like a glove and then they say, ‘but where would I wear it?’ Her reply, ‘What do you mean?..anywhere!’, is her answer. Then she’ll help you make the outfit your own either by suggesting accessories or giving advice based on your personality because at this point, let’s face it, you’ve probably already been fully engrossed in conversation with her while shopping. It’s always a personal experience. Her goal is to put her ‘gals’ (as she lovingly refers to her customers) in special pieces and outfits unlike the mass produced store items. We all crave a bit of originality and having that personal, special something in our look. BKV supplies that.
Visually the shop is captivating to look at. It’s an outdoor space only taking up about a 20 x 20 area or less but you could still spend endless time getting into all of the accessories, knick knacks and clothing. Nothing is stocked on a shelf; retro styled sunglasses are displayed in a vintage suitcase, a pink rotary phone sits next to gorgeous old fashioned hat pins and accessories. There is a carpet, dainty vintage chairs and a birdcage full of goodies. It’s a scene you get to live in for a short while. There is no fluorescent lit changing rooms. You enter the camper to try on your selections.
This infamous 1964 authentic camper painted white and pink is fully functional and the main attraction of the Bohemian Vintage Kitten shop. Kim found the camper on a facebook page called Vintage Camper Trailers, a page devoted to campers. It was to be sold in Utah for an amazingly low price. The seller was so far removed from this world of camper trends, he didn’t even have paypal or email, she had pay via western union and contact him on the actual telephone, remember phone calls?, now that’s vintage. She beat out other buyers because the seller wanted his 3rd generation camper to be treated right and not just flipped for profit. He knew it was in the right hands with Kim so, along with her boyfriend Russ, she journeyed through the winter weather to nab this deal. 18 hours later from LA she attains her dream camper. The seller admits, “We just had to meet this girl from LA”.
This camper alone is worth checking out her shop. Trailers are trending but I can truly say this one is a beauty. Authentic furniture and interior with the added Bohemian Kitten Vintage flare complete with a pink chandelier but don’t be fooled by it’s cuteness as it’s also used for actual camping trips and traveling too.
When she’s not minding the shop Kim works as a costume designer and wardrobe stylist. You can find out more about her work and how to shop at her next upcoming events through the links listed below.
Let’s make America fashionable again, buy vintage, shop local and support small businesses Check out Bohemian Vintage Kitten soon, I like it and you will too.