cat's meow

Shop Vintage: Unique finds and revenge spending at The Cat’s Meow

Before launching her vintage boutique on Avenue Road, The Cat’s Meow, Louise Cooper fell in love with the history of fashion. Whether it was the miniskirts of the women’s liberation movement in the 1960s, or the flourishing post-war fashion of the 1940s and ’50s, she’s always been captivated by the way societal events shape the trends of the moment.

“I went to school to study fashion management and merchandising, and I fell in love with the historical and societal reasons behind people’s apparel,” Cooper says. “I was fascinated by what people wore during hard times like during war, recessions, depressions, pandemics.”

After working in the retail trenches for a few years while searching high and low for unique vintage items as a side hustle, she finally saved enough money and accrued enough stock to start a retail business of her own. Ahead of her time and with a strong vision in mind for the brand she wanted to create, Cooper launched The Cat’s Meow website in 2004 and opened the brick and mortar store on Avenue Road two years later.

 

 

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“I had a clear direction — modern luxury and vintage couture,” she says. “So there’s a big focus on dresses, formalwear and luxury accessories, and all high-end designers like Dior and Chanel.”

With a passion for gold, vintage glam and one-of-a-kind pieces, Cooper describes the shop as “old school boutiquey.” Not only does she admire vintage fashion for esthetic reasons, but she’s also a fan of resale for its eco-friendly and sustainable impacts.

“Fast fashion is killing our planet,” she says. “We have no other choice if we still want to live here, it’s not like we have a planet B. It’s repulsive how our society just consumes and throws everything away — it’s backwards.”

 

 

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While dresses and formalwear still make up a large chunk of her stock, Cooper says that since the lockdown, her clients are more interested in accessories like handbags and scarves, especially those with logos. Given the shutdown of restaurants and travel, her customers are still looking for a way to spend disposable income or purchase a treat as a pick-me-up, and online shopping has stepped in to fill that void.

“Instagram has been a godsend during this time,” Cooper says. “I’m super grateful to the community that has supported me through the lean and hard times.”

 

 

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The Cat’s Meow is celebrating its fifteenth year as a brick and mortar shop this month, and Cooper has faith the fashion industry will see a big boom after the pandemic.

“As history has proven time and time again, generally after a suppressed period, whether it’s social suppression of women’s rights or via a pandemic or war measures, it usually rebounds and goes drastically the other way afterwards,” she says. “People kick up their heels, revenge spend and party it up like it’s the roaring twenties all over again.”

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