Purchasing vintage designer is considered murky water for so many people, mainly due to the space being occupied by scammers selling fakes and others driving prices into the sky.
Due to their dishonesty and corruption, these sellers have tarnished the reputation of the entire market; an area of business that‘s more sustainable, attainable and magical than the rest.
Thankfully, Break. Archive serves to prove buying vintage designer doesn’t have to be inaccessible, risky or over budget.
UTOPIA The Edit’s Fashion & Lifestyle Editor Victoria G. L. Brunton speaks with break.archive founder, Gabriel Rylka…
It’s not often an interview starts with a spoiler alert, but here we are: SPOILER ALERT – this entire interview could be deduced to the fact Gabriel Rylka is no less than an admirable human being as well as an inspirational example of hard work, grit and determination.
At just 20 years old (I know) Rylka sits at the head of a seriously impressive business model – one he began growing as a child – in his own beautifully decorated London-based studio. Naturally, I wanted to find out where and when his ambition, drive and hunger for success began.
Rylka revealed his background as a first-generation immigrant wasn’t an easy one to come from, but acknowledged it as something that lit the path he’s on today. Making ends meet, the founder’s mum up-cycled furniture, re-selling it at carboot sales. Rylka was often brought along to help out, receiving a small fee of £5 in return.
Following his mother’s initiative, Rylka explains “I would use the pocket money to buy converse for £1”, the founder continues, “I’d go home and scrub them back to their prime condition – or as close as I could get to that – and sell them on eBay for £10”.
Whether you can be born with entrepreneurial spirit in your bloodstream is another story for another day. However, if any science journals are interested, I think Rylka and his family would make a great case study.
Continuing the breakdown of his success, Rylka touches on Depop, declaring himself as “one of the OG’s” on the platform. First entering the world of reselling with more lower-level luxury finds, Rylka remembers his first time ‘blowing up’ on the app.
“It was crazy” Rylka continued “One night I had thirty orders, and it was me and my mum sat in my living room just packing” the founder concluded “that was a big moment for me”.
Rylka’s mum played no small part in building her son as the business man he is today; aside from providing inspiration and acting as a stellar example of hard work and perseverance, she also loaned him £1000 to kickstart his business – an amount Rylka has since “returned with interest”.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg, we haven’t even gotten to Break. Archive yet.
Taking a rather comedic turn, Rylka reflects on his first major “pinch-me moment” being when a sourcing video he made on Break. Archive’s TikTok account, went viral. Why is that funny? Well, because the founder happened to have a gigantic stye at the time and even put sunglasses on to cover it up. “I mean, the one time you go viral” he jokes “typical”.
Continuing down memory lane, the founder looks back to his first “big drop”, when the business took in £40,000 overnight. “I remember that night I literally got a bottle of Moët and popped it by myself, in my room“ he laughs “I literally drank the whole bottle, it was amazing”.
Due to fair pricing and an unrivalled selection of curated designer, Break. Archive’s clientele is unsurprisingly pretty extensive. One of the brand’s most famous customers? Maddison Beer. Throwing it back to Christmas Eve ‘21, the founder recalls the celebrity’s impact.
“In Poland you celebrate Christmas on Christmas eve” Rylka explained “so, I was sitting around the table with my family when I suddenly got tagged by Maddison Beer and sales immediately started coming in”, the founder pauses, “that’s the Christmas I bought my brother a PS4”. Reminded of another significant moment in his success, Rylka looks back to giving his mother her first Chanel bag. “That was massive for me, giving her that. A Chanel bag, it’s like a symbol right?” Rylka continues “we literally both sat there, crying”.
Moving on from the brand’s origins, Rylka dives deeper into why he does what he does.
“Vintage products are seen as inaccessible and extremely expensive – that’s the biggest misconception.” Elaborating, Rylka explains “reselling corporations and massive brands have been upping prices to extortionate amounts when in reality, vintage is way cheaper”.
The companies main goal is to create “a sustainable and affordable alternative to shopping luxury retail”, Rylka claims, but it goes deeper than that. “I want to facilitate the moment I had with my mum, when I gave her a Chanel bag, for as many people as possible” he continues. A heartwarming take on the importance of affordable alternatives to buying luxury, and a sentiment we can all relate to.
Finishing up our conversation, it seemed only right to return to sustainability. Rylka begins, “I will say with chest, the luxury fashion industry is just as bad as fast fashion” backing up his statement, he continues “most sought-after brands are manufactured in China and then shipped to Italy just to sew on a label because then they can say ‘Made in Italy’.” The founder finishes by proclaiming the industry as “a big sham” and “smoke in mirrors”, concluding that “buying second hand is the only way you can be 100% certain you’re not contributing to that.” Of course, I agree.
Due to overproduction and increased price points coinciding with diminishing standards of quality, shopping vintage is the only way to purchase goods from an era in which luxury meant supreme quality and one-off (in a sense) designs. That’s why “exclusivity” is an “added bonus” of shopping vintage, Rylka explains.
Luckily, Break. Archive has teamed up with THREADS to bring you their first ever pop up shop; so you can easily touch, hold and wear your curated, luxury designer treasures IRL before committing to taking them home.
The pop-up will take place in Shoreditch, running from November 9th-10th at 9:30am. Appointments are understandably gold dust: click this link to snatch one up fast.