Pechuga Vintage | Tout Est Dada
With a name like pechuga (or “chicken tit,” for the monolingual), one would never expect to find such a treasure trove in the hidden gem that is Pechuga Vintage. An online store based from Los Angeles, Pechuga Vintage is run by its creator Jonathan “Johnny” Valencia, who stumbled into a love for fashion while studying Political Science and International Relations in Paris. Ditching diplomacy for design, Valencia began to collect unique vintage goods until finally opening his online store in late 2017.
A quick dive into Pechuga Vintage’s website reveals a mouthwatering collection of vintage designer goods from Chanel, Vivienne Westwood, Helmut Lang, Louis Vuitton, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Dior, and Norma Kamali…to name just a few. Pechuga’s Instagram boasts photos of glorious ‘90s fashions with tantalizing captions inviting visitors to guess which enviable designer pieces Valencia had managed to get his hands on. Flaunt was lucky enough to get the scoop on Valencia’s purchasing habits, his Dadaist approach to fashion, and what catches his keen eye. Check out the Q&A below, and be sure to check out Pechuga’s Summer Flaunt Sale.
How have you been able to cultivate relationships with buyers and clients coming from a background that was not always focused on fashion?
I’m a social person and very curious by nature and I think that because my focus has not always been in fashion, but rather the sciences and politics, I am able to talk to and cultivate relationships with a wide group of people. I’m an optimist and I like to think of people as being generally good; before I think of someone as a potential client, I’d like to think of them as a potential friend first (gosh, I probably sound so cheesy, but it makes life so much easier). I think that because this has always been my approach with new clients there’s a certain level of mutual trust that is built before any sort of transaction occurs.
What is your favorite piece you’ve ever bought?
As of late I would say my Vivienne Westwood Boucher print corset from Autumn Winter 1990/91, “Portrait” Collection. It’s one of the only pieces I’ve kept that I can’t wear (which says a lot about me!).
How does your Dada approach manifest in the pieces you purchase?
When I was living in Corsica in 2010 I remember wandering around and coming across this giant spray painted slogan on a wall that read, “tout est dada”, everything is Dada. And it was a sight that’s stuck with me till now. Dada as an art movement rejected reason and logic and gave into irrationality and intuition. I see fashion like that at times. Why do we wear the things we do? Why do constrict our bodies to conform to certain pieces? There’s really no logic behind it other than us giving into individual aesthetics (which could be interpreted as a sort of intuitive form of expression). If life is irrational (and chaotic) I may as well look good moving through it.
How has the recent socio-political focus on environmentalism impacted your sales?
Clients are becoming more conscious of where their money is being invested. The planet is hurting right now and we’re seeing the negative impacts that human consumption has had on our environment. The notion of “reduce, recycle, reuse” has been around since the 1970’s but at no other point in history has this slogan held so much weight than now. Buying vintage is but one facet of the “3 R’s”.
Were you interested in fashion before studying in Paris?
Yes. But it was my own version of what fashion in Los Angeles was. When I got to Paris, however, things got serious. Paris had what I didn’t know I’d been missing all my life. When I came back to the United States that’s when I started buying Comme des Garçons, Escada, and Valentino.
What catches your eye when searching for a piece?
The history, definitely. I love knowing the who, when, what, why of anything. I’m a huge art history nerd. I sometimes fall in rabbit hole of information when researching one piece. I don’t mind. For art history I have all the time in the world.
Do your purchasing habits change with what comes in and out of fashion?
Yes. I can’t deny that as a retail business I have to pay attention to market trends. However, it’s always nice going against the grain and pushing forth styles that consumers overlook. Such was the case with the Vivienne Westwood corsets. I started showcasing them more and more, buying them and presenting them to clients until people took notice and started demanding them.
What is the first aspect of a piece you look at when buying items for your collection?
Would I wear this? The pieces that I stock and buy I have to see myself wearing them.
Who is your favorite designer?
What does vintage mean to you?
I guess if we’re going to get technical about it anything 20 years or older is generally considered “vintage”.
When did you know finding and selling vintage pieces was something you wanted to do?
When I was in college I started collecting Valentino and Gucci and then I’d find a random mink hat or an 80’s dress here and there (I made my mom wear vintage to my college graduation) and then I would sell them. I’d have photo shoots with one of my friends who was tall and fit into anything. I guess this business has always been a passion of mine. But I first needed to learn how to properly run a business which I did by working for Vivienne Westwood.
What is the wildest story you have about tracking down a specific piece?
I took a trip to the South of France to find one Jean-Paul Gaultier “Fight Racism” shirt. I couldn’t stop thinking about it—so I had my friend in Paris coordinate with the seller in Marseille who was this much older woman and didn’t really understand technology or phones. At the same time though, I had another friend of mine who actually lived in Marseille go find the shirt for me in person (just to fully cover my bases). I sent my friend in Marseille the funds through Venmo (I was so eager to get the shirt I accidentally sent the funds twice). And then I made a whole trip out of it.
In just a year you have racked up over 20,000 Instagram followers, what does this mean to you and the world of vintage?
To be honest I’m just surprised that my interest is shared by these many people! From a marketing perspective you could say that the Pechuga Vintage IG account is on the right track. In terms of business you could say that people/clients are eager to learn more. It’s the one comment I hear often from people that follow the account. They like when I credit the people involved in fashion campaigns, or the blurbs about why a certain piece came about. Overall it’s been a very pleasant surprise.