Kelowna clothing store re-works and re-purposes vintage finds

Grey Hearts Denim is set to open on Feb. 15

Heads up to vintage and workwear lovers.

Grey Hearts Denim is a workshop and store in one, and it’s about to bring Kelowna some treasures.

Co-founder Sean Whyte said they’re re-working, re-purposing, and upcycling clothing and other vintage items to give them a new life.

And even if something is nearing the end, Whyte said they’ll still spice it up into something new.

Whyte comes from a fashion marketing background, shopping for and styling actors on movie and TV sets like Supergirl and Riverdale. He knows firsthand what goes into making an outfit work and fit a body well.

But he also knows about the waste the industry creates.

“I was attracted to the fashion industry (from a young age), but not in the superficial sense. And the more I was in it, certain things disenchanted me like the waste of clothing and the superficiality of it, and the have and have-nots of it,” Whyte said.

“We come across so much clothes, and good clothes at that. Sometimes, it just needs a new button or a zipper needs to be fixed… fast fashion has really changed the industry, especially in the last few years and it’s really gotten out of hand.”

This isn’t Whyte’s first time launching a store. He said he first launched a streetwear line in Edmonton about 15 years ago, but had to let it go once he moved to Vancouver.

But he’s back at it now that he’s in Kelowna.

“It’s more of a lifestyle. We’re not hung up on a brand or trying to be trendy. We like to carry classic pieces and quality stuff that people will appreciate and stuff they’ll use for a long time,” Whyte said.

“And if it ever gets to the point that you beat it up and it needs a repair, you can come see us. We have patches for that. Let’s just keep it going. Let’s not waste clothes.”

Grey Hearts Denim also sells leather goods from independent Canadian vendors, many based in B.C. Whyte said they specifically look for vendors who make items that look good but are also functional.

“At the end of the day, if you say you’re about workwear, it has to have utility purposes. Fashion is one thing, but function is another thing and we’re real proponents of the fashionability of function,” he said.

“If it just looks good and doesn’t do anything for you, then it defeats the purpose. It’s just a prop.”

Whyte’s co-owner Paul Reyes comes from a fashion design background and does the distressing and some of the alterations in-store. The two also have another partner, Carl Clark, who comes in from Alberta every few weeks.

Grey Hearts Denim will have its soft opening in the next few weeks, with the official grand opening set for Feb. 15.

The store is located at 1615 Pandosy Street. You can also check their Instagram to see some of the items they offer.

READ: Fashion production is modern slavery: 5 things you can do to help now

READ: Forever 21 fashion chain closing all Canadian stores in global restructuring

Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
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