Exclusive: Plus Consignment is Van’s streetwear mecca
Pusha T accidentally predicted the future of fashion in 2006 with the line “Pyrex stirs turned into Cavalli furs”. The rise of streetwear over the past decade in North America has paved the way for skate brands and ‘social experiments’ to become industry heavyweights. Look at James Jebbia, who won CFDA’s menswear designer of the year last year and accepted his award by saying he “doesn’t consider himself to be a designer”. On the other hand, look at Virgil Abloh, who dressed members of the ASAP Mob in Pyrex Vision back in 2012 and now runs two of the largest names in fashion- Off-White (his own label) and Louis Vuitton Men’s.
There are few people in Vancouver that understand streetwear better than the two guys running Plus in Gastown. Although it only opened in November of 2017, it has become one of the biggest destination fashion stores in the city. Think that rappers and celebrities only shop at Holt Renfew? One look at Plus’ Instagram proves that theory wrong. By emulating major consignment stores in cities like Tokyo and New York, Plus is now the de facto spot in Vancouver to get the rarest Jordan’s or a Supreme shirt from 2006.
In a conversation with one of the partners, Ibrahim Itani, Curiocity was able to talk a little bit about the future of Plus and his opinions on the ever evolving world of streetwear.
In regards to Plus, Ibrahim is happy with how the space has progressed. While it’s not super easy telling some guy that his Jordan’s are not worth nearly as much as he hoped, the store has seen month over month growth since opening. Ibrahim also helped to launch Plus’ webstore around 6 months ago, and that has helped with their visibility across the country.
They’re not just in the business to buy and sell clothing though, they’d also like to help support Vancouver’s local music scene. Whether it’s providing pieces to a local rapper for a photoshoot, shutting down their store for a music video, or just straight sponsoring festivals and concerts, Plus is invested in helping out and supporting when they can.
Of course, the backbone of the store is the product, and Plus has that in spades. In addition to practically every important box logo released by Supreme, Plus has got a wall of their artist collaboration decks, nunchucks, and even the mini-bike. We’re just waiting on a pinball machine. They’ve also got practically every Yeezy and Off-White Jordan, vintage BAPE, and some of the rarest releases you’ve ever seen in your life. We checked, no other store in Canada sells the Readymade x BAPE collaboration from last year.
However, it’s Ibrahim’s devotion to streetwear that truly resonates with us. He first started buying pieces back in high school, and has found a way to fund his passion ever since. He didn’t start out as a ‘collector’ though, he simply found brands that resonated with him and bought a couple shirts or shoes that he liked here and there. While he was able to visit the brick and mortar stores every once in a while, he actually got the majority of his stuff from online forums.
Those who have been following streetwear for a few years know how important men’s fashion forums like SupTalk, Superfuture or Hypebeast were in the early days. Kids would log in so that they could talk about upcoming releases, try and buy or sell stuff, or just discuss overall trends. As a high school student outside of major fashion cities, Ibrahim found this to be the best way of staying involved in the world of men’s fashion.
When asked about how that community has changed, Ibrahim responded with a positive approach. He’s not particularly worried about its death because of Grailed or Instagram, in fact, he thinks that these channels opened the world of streetwear to an audience that would otherwise never have dipped their toes in. He recognizes that the community lacks a certain depth that it previously had, but he’s a guy who rolls with the punches.
For Ibrahim, Instagram was the major catalyst for change. These days, Instagram has made fashion immediate and ubiquitous. Everyone from celebrities to a kid down the street can check out what’s currently ‘hot’ in fashion and adjust their own aesthetic accordingly. Whereas the outfit grid dominated Instagram a couple years back, you now can make the most obscure aesthetic references in your picture and you’re almost guaranteed to connect with a group that recognizes what you’re doing.
That leads into our final topic of conversation with Ibrahim, which is the philosophy of fashion in general. Basically, Ibrahim looks at fashion in two contrasting ways. The first is fashion as an investment in a lifestyle or a designer’s philosophy. Every once in a while, you’ll see someone walking down the street that has completely bought into a designer. It could be Rick Owens, Yohji Yamamoto, Junya Watanabe, the list goes on. These are the people that are fully devoted to a particular aesthetic and will probably go their entire lives buying the same label or labels very similar to it (who doesn’t love a Rick Owens fit with some Carol Christian Poell’s on their feet?).
The second approach is much more general, and Ibrahim is the first to admit that he usually fits into this category. This view emphasizes the individual piece over the full outfit, and allows people to mix and match their favourites from a variety of designers until they feel comfortable. Think back to the Balenciaga Speed Trainer, how many people (outside of Paris Fashion Week) actually bought into that season’s aesthetic? We saw maybe one or two over an entire year in Vancouver. Ibrahim doesn’t find anything wrong with that, as it allows people to feel good about what they’re wearing without worrying about if they’re properly ‘representing the brand’. Fashion is, first and foremost, a commercial endeavour, so any support is good support.
Press further though, and Ibrahim starts to get into the minutiae of the fashion world. He himself is an avid collector of the Junya Watanabe x Levi’s collaborations; the contrast of screen printed free form poems on otherwise sturdy workwear pieces speaks to him personally, and so he seeks it out. It doesn’t help that these pieces are incredibly rare and hard to come by, but that doesn’t stop him from looking around whenever he gets the chance.
As for his favourite country for fashion? Ibrahim provided the (rather predictable) response of Japan. He recognizes that you can find good fashion everywhere, but it is in Japan that people will have an almost manic devotion to a brand. It is with good reason that Japan has more Supreme stores than the rest of the world combined- the fans of the brand there are unflinching in support. It speaks to a level of authenticity that is hard to come by elsewhere, although Ibrahim is most definitely an exception to that rule.
We thank Ibrahim for chatting with us, and look forward to seeing how Plus grows in 2019. Happy hunting on those Junya pieces as well, friend.