Meet Violette Challe of Deconstructed Vintage
For me, fashion has always been intrinsic to who I am. I honestly can’t remember a time in my collective memory when I was okay with allowing other people to dress me, personal expression through fashion has always just been that important to me, and I am so fortunate to have a family who always cultivated that by allowing me to dress myself however I wanted. Dressing myself, and other people has always been a source of joy for me. Literally from pre-school, where I always played dress up during free time or as a child when I had a rule of no more than four outfit changes a day, and I held glamorous tea parties where I would dress my little siblings up. Clothing, styling, dressing up, all of that, it’s always been so fun to me. But something that has always bothered me, from the very beginning of my fascination with fashion, is the strictly enforced gender division, especially when it comes to perceived femininity in clothing. I have a lot of negative memories of this, especially from when I was younger before I really even understood and figured out how to conform to this gender division. Memories of being told to have the boys I was playing dress up change because they shouldn’t wear wigs or dresses; memories of my peers telling me I couldn’t wear my superhero or baseball shirts, because they were for boys. When I graduated high school I moved around a lot and I eventually settled in San Diego where I came out as queer and later gender nonconforming. My partner was also gender nonconforming but prefered “male clothing”, when we first started shopping in ‘male sections’ of stores it was a pretty uncomfortable experience, and it was difficult to find men’s clothing that was petite enough to fit either one of us. I experienced similar experiences with other queer friends while shopping in the women’s sections (just people giving weird looks or staring, not a lot of size variation and the whole awkward situation of changing rooms) and after a while I kind of gave up on shopping. I tried to get into e-commerce for a while but was also dissatisfied at the lack of gender and size diversity showcased by brands. I was frustrated because I felt as though people who looked like a lot of the people I love and think are most beautiful, were not being properly represented within the fashion world. I was inspired by up and coming brands who focused their campaigns on actual representations of beauty. And that was pretty much the culmination of Deconstructed Vintage in 2018. I was tired of traditional shopping and model experiences so I seeked to create my own. I developed a concept for an inclusive, genderfluid shopping experience and so Deconstructed Vintage was born.
It definitely has not always been a smooth road, but I have always thought that was a lot of the fun in it. Honestly, for myself, the roughest road was before I even started the company, and this ‘road’ was just the process of accepting and loving myself. As a kid, I grew up in San Francisco but my family moved 40 minutes north to Sonoma County before I went to middle school, and I had a rough time transitioning. I was awkward, and liked to read and do art and I found it really hard to not only make friends, but to actually get people to like or tolerate me. I kind of grew up with this belief that people wouldn’t like me, or be my friend because who I genuinely was just wasn’t good enough, so by high school I tried to assimilate, and was successful for the most part. Except I ended up completely losing touch of who I really was, and by the end of highschool I was just really unhappy because I wasn’t being true to myself. After high school I took a gap year, because although everyone told me I needed to go to college, it wasn’t something I was passionate about and I wanted to get out there in the world and find a passion. I ended up going all the way to Italy as a nanny to try and figure it out, but I didn’t. When I returned home I moved to San Diego and went to school for languages, then political science, then International Business, then Finance, then Organization Management until I eventually dropped out. I worked jobs as a manager, as an HR assistant, as an intern for the democratic socialist party of Germany in Berlin. I kept doing everything it seemed like made everyone else happy, but I was miserable. It wasn’t until I returned from my internship in Berlin, that I finally realized; although the life I was pursuing was interesting and exciting and maybe even construed to many some sort of success, or something to be proud of, I realized I was not living a life that was interesting or exciting to me. I was living a life for external validation, for others to be proud of me and happy for me, but I wasn’t really enjoying myself. So I started getting back in the touch with the real me, cultivating forgotten interests and hobbies, indulging in the activities that I always felt made me undesirable or unworthy of being liked- and I realized I actually liked myself so much more when I was doing things that made me happy rather than doing things I pretended to like to get people to like me. Once I cultivated this sense of self love, the road was so much smoother, and it was this road that led me to finding and fu
Deconstructed Vintage is a genderfluid vintage clothing store that promotes diversity, inclusivity, and sustainability through fashion. Deconstructed Vintage supports the notion that fashion is for EVERYONE and so we choose to eliminate the gender binary from our clothing categorization, and instead focus on categorizing the clothes by style, size, and material- which we find to be a more effective clothing categorization system. As a vintage clothing seller, we handpick the highest quality, timeless and most versatile pieces, after which we collect product images, then wash, handwash, or dry clean the item before steaming and pressing and finally rechecking for quality before it is stored for sale. In addition to our vintage collections, we also have a limited release collection of original reconstructed designs, where we take vintage pieces of the highest quality materials and tailor them in order to have it reflect a more modern, fashion forward style. Deconstructed Vintage provides not only a more comfortable shopping experience, but also one that shoppers feel good about. Our biggest mission is making everyone feel represented, beautiful, loved, and accepted.
I definitely do not define success by any sort of monetary means, I do however define success as being able to see everyone I love eat at my table, as well as being financially affluent enough to create funds and foundations to positively impact my community, rather that be local or global. I see success as less of an endpoint, and more of a journey, because for me the feeling of success is the feeling of taking pride in what you’re doing. That feeling that maybe you’re getting something right. And even though we’re still pretty small, there are a lot of days that I get that feeling, and I know that if I stay on the path, and stay true to my mission, that feeling will remain, and it will grow, and it will intensify; until it’s not only me that feels the warmth of that feeling, but a whole team of people and community of people who feel supported by our fashion initiative.