Story by Paul Aguirre-Livingston. Illustration by Ayalah Hutchins.
This week, I’m taking a break from profiling fashion designers to focus on what keeps fashion in business: the retailers. As the owner of both 69 Vintage and 69 Collective/Buy the Pound, Kealan Sullivan is Toronto’s vintage queen. Kealan has her finger on the pulse on what is nouveau, but her cool-hunting skills are paired with an equally honed education in what makes an excellent vintage piece. Her taste is instinctive and sartorially encompassing: Flipping through the racks at 69, you’ll find everything from sweet satin prom dresses to original Levi’s cut-off denim vests.
Tell me about your journey. How did you get into vintage?
“It all started with collecting hundreds of pieces of baby and doll clothes from the Salvation Army, using all of my allowance at 6 years old.”
Do you have a favourite fashion memory?
“The first time I heard ‘You’re Kealan Sullivan.’ Really, it means nothing but this was my best friend’s usual response to the question I asked so often: ‘Can I seriously wear this?’ Her reply gave me courage. It still does.”
What makes you decide if you’re going to buy a certain garment for the store? Is there a “Kealan Criteria”?
“There are five rules: