Derbyshire school friends set up successful vintage warehouse sourcing rare WWII and Olympic finds

Two Derbyshire school friends are celebrating success after they launched a vintage warehouse which is now booming after they sourced rare WWII and Olympic memorabilia.

Wednesday, 28th July 2021, 1:33 pm

Alex Tribbennsee and Lawrence Varley are making a name for themselves in the second-hand clothing market which has grown significantly during the pandemic, after they set up a vintage warehouse in Langley Mill 18 months ago.

From American sportwear and iconic Nike high-tops to brightly-coloured shell suits – circa 1990 – and memorabilia from the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, their business, Vault Vintage Wholesale, specialises in importing tonnes of clothing from around the world to sell to independent vintage shops.

The two Derbyshire friends, who met when they joined Kirk Hallam Community School, have turned over almost half a million pound since they set up the business in March 2020.

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Lawrence Varley and Alex Tribbennsee.

While the clothing Alex and Lawrence buy up, predominantly comes from the United States and mainland Europe, their Langley Mill warehouse is like an Aladdin’s Cave of pre-loved goodies – from limited edition t-shirts, rare designer finds and also stocking iconic brands such as Levis, Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger.

Vault Vintage Wholesale sell authentic WWII military jackets too and the pair were surprised to find a half-used packet of Orbit chewing gum in one of the pockets when it arrived at their warehouse from abroad.

Lawrence, 31, said: “I love the military outfits and the history behind the clothing.

"I’m also a big fan of 90s fashion.”

The Derbyshire school friends set up Vault Vintage Warehouse 18 months ago.

30-year-old Alex, who previously worked as a marketing manager, added: “For customers abroad, we offer a video call so that they can see what we have in our warehouse and then sell by weight or category.

“It’s quite time consuming – the calls can take up to four hours - so we have a minimum price of £300 per sale.

"We also offer a service where you can visit the warehouse and hand-pick your own garments.”

Dalton Bramley, who runs Gorilla Garms on Chesterfield’s Vicar Lane, is one of Vault Vintage’s repeat customers.

Alex (left) and Lawrence (right) have turned over almost half a million pound since they opened their doors less than two years ago.

He quit his job as a teacher to follow his dream of setting up his own vintage clothes shop.

Dalton said: “I had been selling vintage clothes online for a few years as a side hustle and I was making double the amount of money I was making in my teaching job.

“So, a week before lockdown, I opened the shop in Chesterfield.

"It’s been a strange year but, with my online shop still doing well, I’ve made it work.”

The pair import the vintage clothes and then re-sell them to retailers around the world and even found a WWII military jacket.

Lawrence and Alex have averaged nine hours a day, seven days a week, to make their passion for selling vintage clothing a reality.

While the clothes stocked at Vault Vintage may be historic, the business owners’ approach to retailing their garments is distinctly modern with most of their customers coming through Instagram.

Alex added: “When the world was locked down due to covid, we were really busy; with a lot of people on furlough and generally having more time on their hands, we saw an increase in sales.

“We’re keen to grow organically.

“We have seen people in our industry push their businesses too fast, too soon, and we don’t want that; we’re still establishing ourselves but believe that, if you have a passion for something and work hard, you’ll reap the rewards.”

This vintage bag from the Olympics held in Montreal in 1976 is another of Alex and Lawrence's rare finds.

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