All Photos: Temniet Mesgna
Words and Interview: Mare Lewicki
The Deal: Every other week, we go to a thrift, vintage, or consignment store where we interview the store owner and speak to them about anything related to fashion and the style of the store.
This week, we spoke to the owner of Junction, Shannan Fales, who has owned Junction since 2003. A lover of fashion and vintage, Shannan decided to start her own store after not being fond of the typical 9-5 routine. Junction is located on U. St., conveniently close to the U.St./African-American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo Metro Station.
Tell us something about yourself! Where are you from?
I’m originally from Massachusetts and I have been in DC since ’96 so I guess it has been 14 years. I opened the store, going on 7 years ago because a friend of mine has this incredible vintage store. He has had it for like 20 years! So, I love vintage, I love to thrift, and I had always wanted to have my own vintage store. So I guess the combination of his awesome store and my love of thrifting, that’s what inspired me to open Junction.
Did you always want to own your own boutique or was it your friends influence that really captured the vibe and drive you to start Junction?
I originally worked a 9-5 and it just wasn’t for me, and so I would be out thrifting and see all these things that didn’t necessarily fit me and I would be like “Oh my god! If I had my own store, I would totally buy this and resell it!” So it initially wasn’t necessarily the owning of a business that got me excited, it was more so the thrifting, the vintage, and everything.
And- showcasing the clothes and having your influence being brought into the store.
What would you then say is your favorite part about owning Junction?
My favorite part would be the buying. I keep saying that “I love thrifting!” [Laughs] It’s definitely the buying and being able to express myself. My boyfriend just came in the other day he hadn’t been here in a while and I had made some changes and he told me that the store definitely is me! So I love that about this. It’s completely me. Everything in here- I have chosen it, I picked it myself cause I like it and just the whole style of it. Everything of it [Junction] fits me. That probably is the best part. To be able to have a whole other avenue to express yourself that a lot of people don’t have.
Can people actually sell their clothes here or is it that you want to do your own thrifting?
No. I like to do my own thrifting.
You obviously are a lover of thrifting so what would your advice to be to people who don’t really get or have trouble thrifting? A lot of people get flustered or impatient so what would be your tips to them when thrifting?
I would say to definitely go with a game plan. If you’re feeling like you’re overwhelmed, say to yourself “the things that I really want to buy today are something like jewelry and dresses”. Go to those sections and really go through [it]. You do really have to take your time because something awesome could be right there and you just kinda pass it by. You do really have to go through it and look at everything but if you feel too overwhelmed, like only go to certain sections, and focus on those [sections]. There is no point in looking through everything ’cause it does get overwhelming.
You must go to the big stores like Value Village, but do you also go to yard sales. garage sales, etc.?
I do. I go to estate sales. Whenever I travel up to Massachusetts, I’ll try to go to the sales. My mom and I always used to go yard sales when I was a kid. Definitely if there is a yard sale, we will pull over and check it out. Definitely estate sales, thrift shops, and then every now and again, if I see a yard sale, I’ll check it out.
Is there any particular reason why you opened the store on U. St.?
Well, at the time, it was being called the “up-and-coming” neighborhood and so it kind of just was the most obvious place. Adams Morgan was a little bit too pricey… Georgetown was out of the question. There really wasn’t any other neighborhoods, at that time, that had like Mom & Pop shops. U. St. had, at the time, had maybe four or five [Mom & Pop type shops]. So at the time, it was budget wise, “up-and-coming” neighborhood, and just was what was already here. It just made sense.
Is there a particular era that you’re in love with and that inspires your own style?
I think, I would say, well I have always loved the Seventies and bell-bottoms. I’ve always been into Seventies basics like the cork heels… I have a million of those at home. Whether they’re in style or not, I just will always wear them. With trends coming and going, I’ll kind of dabble into that. Like the 50’s house dress, stuff like that. Mostly like, my core clothes, I guess would be the 70’s.
Do you have a certain fashion essential that you have then? You mentioned that you love the cork heels.
I’m always into the wrap dress! I think the wrap dress is a classic, easy piece that you can dress up, you can dress down with. It’s still flirty and girly cause they have the lower neckline, the flowing skirt… I’m a true believer of the wrap dress, especially Diane von Furstenberg’s first wrap dress was just sick! That would probably be my essential piece.
You mentioned Diane von Furstenberg and you seem to like the more funky type styles. Would it be safe to you say you’re more into Alexander McQueen’s work rather than a line coming from Chanel?
Is there then a specific designer that you’ll always follow?
Well it is kind of obvious like Pucci, Vivienne Westwood. Nobody necessarily today. If I see Pucci or Diane von Furstenberg, Vivienne Westwood… It’s definitely a find! I don’t necessarily tend to just look at one designer or anything because a lot of the pieces that I have here… Even if it is just a little black dress… I like to make it my own with crazy accessories or jewelry or whatever. I definitely don’t limit myself to anyone in particular.
There is sort of a DC fashion scene going on at the moment, more so than it was before. What’s your take on it?
It’s hard [because] my customers here tend to be more on the conservative side, it seems like. I’ll bring in something that is sick and I’m just like “I can’t believe it’s still here!” I know if I were in New York, it would be gone in two seconds. They will sit here for a couple of months and so at any rate, as far as what I have seen come and go here, I haven’t necessarily seen much change. I guess out and about in DC, especially like, I’ve seen a lot of the Howard [University] students… I [actually] saw an article with the Howard [University] students saying how they would never think of going to class in sweat pants or something like that. They have really tightened it up with their fashion style, which is great! I love it! I have been waiting for that to happen for a long time here. Although, when I go out at night, when I go to clubs, I still see the girls with the little tank tops. It’s like, sometimes you see that fashion forward, but on average, I don’t and so for me personally, when I go out, I like to wear the craziest things possible. People will think it’s so crazy, when really it’s not! It’s just not the norm. I definitely am excited about people becoming more open to their own style and not looking at what’s on a mannequin and just being creative with themselves.
You mentioned that your customers are more on the conservative side while you are on the more funky side. Is there anything that makes the two of you come together? Are there some pieces that you could both agree on and love together?
I think so… I think that… Well what I try to do here is have some of the funkier stuff and then some of the more… you know… an easy everyday piece. [This way] they can put together just a nice plain top that is not very exciting with the funky, 80’s skirt. I think that that’s the one thing I try to do here. When I thrift, I get the pieces that are really fun but [I] also get the pieces that are just wearable like… Sometimes I’ll say in my head “I’m going to get this just because someone might need a short sleeve shirt.” They don’t want to go out to Georgetown; they don’t want to go to target or something. [The black short sleeve shirt] can be easily paired with something that is more funky. I think that is where I find my… in the middle ground.
Are you the type of person that is fashion over function, or function over fashion?
I would say, well, my everyday kind of gear just kind of sucks. I’m going thrifting, I’m running around doing errands so function kind of takes over where I’m just gonna wear jeans and a tee-shirt. But then, when I go out at night, I’ll really rock it out. So, I guess, really, it is kind of function first. It depends on the occasion. My closet is literally full of like crazy, fun stuff. Like when I’m thrifting, I’m like “I have to keep this!” but then I feel that I don’t have the right opportunity to wear it because of the function part of my life.
Is there ever a struggle when you’re thrifting and you see a piece that you just can’t let go?
Always! I’ll bring it in and Megan (Shannan’s Sales Associate) will be like “Dude, we have go to sell this!” Like I have so much stuff! I share an apartment with my boyfriend and there is no room in the closet. I have so many things! It’s not even about wearing it, it’s almost like for me, part of my collection. A lot of times, it will be a collective’s piece that you want to have in your collection of clothes. Not to necessarily wear it all the time but I think that if I were to bring in my closet here, it would get a lot of interest because it is a lot of eclectic collectors’ kind of pieces.
Previously on “Other People’s Clothes”: