VAULT TALKS TO ANGEL CUJI: NYC, VINTAGE LEGEND, LOVING LIFE
Explain to VAuLT a little bit about yourself?
Hi Vault! I’m Angel Cuji, I’ve been a vintage collector for most of my life. I’m 20 years old and live in NYC. I currently go to school for graphic design.
When did your love for vintage designer fashion start?! What attracted you to this market?
It all started when my mom would take me to this big thrift store on Long Island every Sunday when I was a kid. I was always fascinated by the concept of second-hand, and as I got older I craved a more distinct style and sense of individuality. And what better place to find that than a massive thrift store! I really started getting into vintage designer pieces when I first moved to NYC. I saw it on the rise and knew I wanted to be apart of it. What attracts me is the sustainable aspect of it all and the timeless uniqueness. Sure “trendy” vintage pieces may go out of style for a minute, but they always find their way back in the future.
What is one vintage designer pieces that you couldn’t live without?
Haha, this is a hard one! One vintage designer piece that I cannot live without would have to be my pink Dior monogram tank top. It was a battle to retrieve. It’s literally my summer uniform because it’s so comfy, I always wear it out.
What is one vintage designer item that you really want to get your hands on?
One vintage designer piece that I have been searching high and low for would have to be pink Dior monogram pants to match with my pink Dior monogram jacket. Or that Chanel Sports water bottle holder bag. It’s such an interesting silhouette and would make a great everyday crossbody bag.
How big is your collection of vintage designer items?
Not too big, I’m constantly phasing them out, but I keep most of my vintage Dior just because it’s pretty to look at in my closet sometimes haha.
We see you’ve got your own shop as well. Is this an extension of your love for preloved luxury? Are the clothes sold here, your old wardrobe pieces, or a separate archive?
Yes! Cuji Clothing is my child, I really only started taking it seriously about a year ago. I was mainly doing online sales, and occasional pop-ups, but one day my friends at 13 Crosby in SoHo hit me up, and wanted to work together, and have my merchandise in the most fashionable part of NYC. I’m so grateful for that, it really pushed me to continue the brand. As for the pieces on CC, most of it is a separate archive that I solely intend to resell, but sometimes I will put pieces from my closet that I impulse bought and never wore haha.
How do you source all these amazing items? What are your top tips for hunting for these items?
I source from any way you can imagine! Sifting through thrift shops for HOURS, estate sales, the depths of the internet, the various clientele that wants to declutter their closets, the list goes on! My tip for fellow hunters is to be extremely patient, but never give up! You will find that piece you’re looking for one way or another, I promise!
How do you go about authenticating items? Do you have an eye for spotting fakes?
Authentication is extremely important to me, especially when it comes to my shop. In High School, I studied fabrics, stitching, etc. and that really gave me a natural eye for seeing what’s phony and what’s not. Before Cuji Clothing even came about, I would study and research for hours and hours about vintage designer pieces, and various authenticating methods for fun. Just in case I ever came across such a piece one day!
What do you hope for the future? Do you want to build on your brand or focus on Instagram influencing as your Instagram is stunning!
Thank you so much! I’d love to focus on both equally, as much as I can. I’d love to expand Cuji Clothing into a non-designer vintage one day, but I do also like it solely being designer. One day I’d love to have a tiny shop in SoHo or the East Village, I’ve always dreamt of designing my dream store. As for my Instagram influencing, I’d love to take it as far as I can and continue to share my passion for vintage fashion and sustainability. Hearing people tell me that I inspired them to try second-hand shopping really makes my heart explode (in a good way).
What are your views on fast fashion? What do you believe the future of fashion to be?
I probably have less than five fast fashion articles of clothing in my entire wardrobe, which says a lot haha. I am opposed to the exploitation of third world countries, pollution, child labor, the list goes on! I wish more people that shopped fast fashion were more aware of these things, but I have been seeing an increase in environmentally conscious consumers. It’s just crazy to me that even within American borders, minorities are being taken advantage of at the hands of these HUGE companies. It’s not okay! I do wish today’s sustainable fashion was more accessible to lower-income people, but one day I think there will be a point where 75% of the industry is eco-friendly AND affordable.
How have you been keeping yourself occupied during a lockdown?
Running and Tik Tok have been my best friends during the lockdown. I may have done a little too much online shopping too haha.