The first 20 years:
For many years Carousel bought and sold independent retail brands with a vintage inspired aesthetic in our shop in central Dublin. Sourcing womens vintage dresses was a successful and a thoroughly enjoyable time which lasted over 20 years. Traveling all over the world to trade fairs picking up new cool brands and introducing them to the Irish market. I travelled all over Europe and occasionally the USA attending trade fairs. Carousel became a go to source for original womens vintage dresses and vintage inspired dresses https://www.ilovecarousel.com/blog/carousel-loves-vintage.html
But like all good things this came to an end around 2010. For many reasons this business model was no longer viable. Margins were squeezed by increasing rents, rates, vat and other day to day running costs. When the banks stopped credit lines the business almost ground to a halt. A new vision was urgently needed.
The adventure begins
Carousel had to find new product that was viable under the changing conditions. I travelled to Thailand on the recommendation of a friend who had recently holidayed there. In Thailand I found many small clothing manufacturers. Bangkok was a hive of exciting and innovative young businesses with a can do approach to getting things done. It was a very inspiring place to be. I found many of these enterprises in a place called the Platinum market which I found online. This was full of small clothing brands, some resellers but many had there own factory.
I spent a week in Bangkok on my first trip going up and down the isles day after day assessing which brands were potential partners. Initially I bought items at the market and had them delivered to my hotel. I then arranged shipping back to Ireland. I did this for one or two more trips until I had developed a relationship with a number of the shop owners. They would then send me images of new lines by email. I woul transfer the money and they would deliver to a shipper in Bangkok. I did this for 2 or 3 years with a degree of success. This saved the business in the short term but was not a long term solution.
I travelled to Bangkok every 6 months to build on the relationships and source more sofisticated product. In all my time working with the Thai people I never had an issue. Everything delivered always arrived as described and in good condition. Travelling to Bangkok opened up my eyes to the possibilities beyond Europe.
Thai design is heavily influenced by vintage style. Very often the aesthetic was copied directly from original womens vintage dresses.