Vintage shopping (for a cause) hits Amman

The store has men’s and women’s clothing in a variety of styles. (Zoe Sottile/Jordan News)
The store has men’s and women’s clothing in a variety of styles. (Zoe Sottile/Jordan News)
AMMAN — For many visitors who walk into Second Base, a newly opened boutique in Jabal Luweibdeh located above Xian Asian Cuisine, the store looks like any of a number of trendy clothing stores across west Amman. There are sparkly sequined skirts, silky patterned scarves, and an assortment of dresses, all hanging beneath a fluorescent pink sign reading “Love again.”اضافة اعلان

Second Base, a new boutique in Luweibdeh, offers stylish vintage clothing. All of the proceeds from the store are fueled into a social enterprise that provides a “dignified shopping experience” for marginalized communities. (Zoe Sottile/Jordan News)

But the brand-new shop has a secret: every item is second hand, many of them scoured from donation bins in Beirut. All of the shop’s proceeds flow into FabricAid, a social enterprise that collects, sorts, and distributes clothing to disadvantaged communities at a fraction of the price they would normally sell for. Their goal is to offer a dignified shopping experience to marginalized communities all while reducing fabric waste.

“In the Arab world, second hand (shopping) is not a very established culture,” said Sally Khadra, Second Base’s brand manager. “We need to establish it. How can you establish it? When you display it in a good way, when you create a very nice shop, you are introducing second-hand in a very decent way.”

Originally founded in Lebanon in 2017, FabricAid works in a variety of modalities to make sure no fabric goes to waste. At its Souk Al-Khlanj branches — last month, they opened their first such shop in Amman in Jabal Al-Natheef — they sell cleaned, ironed, and high-quality second hand clothes at “micro-prices.” Their shops are neat and organized, with dressing rooms and an experienced sales vendor to “offer a dignified shopping experience.”

The Luweibdeh store is FabricAid’s first expansion outside of Lebanon. (Zoe Sottile/Jordan News)

However, 6 percent of the donations FabricAid receives are deemed too flamboyant or non-traditional. These items are directed to their Second Base stores, such as in their Luweibdeh location, which is the first Second Base outpost outside of Lebanon.

These shops feature unique, colorful, and vintage styles and more revealing items which might not sell at Souk Al-Khlanj. They also sell for slightly higher prices — the average item at Second Base in Weibdeh runs between 12 and JD15 — which helps fund FabricAid’s operations.

“Everything we get from here is to sustain FabricAid and Souq Al-Khlanj,” said Sally Khadra, Second Base’s brand manager, in an interview with Jordan News. “Our main goal is Souq Al-Khlanj, this is just a way of sustaining ourselves.”

Colorful secondhand shirts in the men’s section at Second Base. (Zoe Sottile/Jordan News)

At the front of the shop sits a tailor, Ahmad, who modifies items to fit customers — free of cost. Khadra added that his work makes shoppers feel more comfortable knowing that he can fix minor imperfections — like a missing button — or tailor a blazer to fit.

If you’re looking to offload your closet, Second Base also buys good-condition vintage items, “depending on the style”, according to Khadra. She explained that the items should be unique. Plain items, even if they come from an expensive brand, are directed towards Souq Al-Khlanj.

The store hopes to promote vintage shopping in Jordan and the Middle East. 

Khadra said that the reaction to the store’s opening in Amman has been overwhelmingly positive. “People hardly notice it’s second hand,” she said. “When we tell them it’s second hand, they’re shocked.”

“The feedback is amazing.”

She explained that she’s hoping to introduce a culture that embraces and elevates second hand shopping in Amman.

“It’s the exclusivity,” that draws in customers to the store, according to Khadra. “They’re taking a unique item that someone else doesn’t have. In the fast-fashion world, with Zara, Mango, Pull&Bear, all people are dressed the same way. So they come here to have this unique item.”

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