by Kathryn Helmore
Hastings-Sunrise has a new addition. Located amidst punk bars, sushi restaurants and coffee houses sits a recently parked time machine. While Burcu’s Angels, a vintage clothing boutique on East Hastings and Nanaimo, doesn’t literally warp physical dimensions to travel through time, it will nevertheless make fashion history junkies drool. The space is home to a variety of fabulous, hard-to-find vintage items including velvet opera gowns, luminescent flared jeans and seductive silk gowns.
Those who visit the shop will meet the colourful Turkish-born owner, Burcu Ozdemir. A veteran of the vintage scene, Ozdemir is the kind of woman who can size up your waist, style and personality over a single cup of tea.
“I started my own vintage store 20 years ago,” says Ozdemir. “Inspired by a vintage store on Main called Whatever, I rented a space with one small rack. Everything came together from there.”
Since the early days, Ozdemir has moved her ever-expanding collection of vintage clothes across the face of Vancouver. Ozdemir has rented spaces at Eugene Choo and at Main near Broadway, resting on 16th Avenue for nearly a decade.
Despite years on Main, the neighbourhood’s recent upscale projection hasn’t sat well with Ozdemir. While she still has one location on the street, she moved a large collection of her clothes to East Hastings this past April. “On the 29th of April I woke up and realised I was slowly dying on Main Street,” Ozdemir says. “When I walked down the street and asked someone for the time, their response was ‘I don’t have any change.’ I had become a crazy, eccentric lady.” Her sudden decision to open a location in the Hastings-Sunrise neighbourhood was catalysed by an innocent visit to the area for a haircut. Within minutes she was sold — it was reminiscent of the Main Street she had once loved.
“When walking through East Hastings, I noticed the queer and trans folk were part of the fabric, they weren’t sticking out,” she explains. “They were just themselves.”
Now that Burcu’s Angels has settled in it’s newest location, it is becoming an intrinsic part of the community — a fact exemplified by the small table at the entranceway, which offers fresh fruit, dog treats, and an ashtray to passersby.
“In our living room [a space at the opening of the store] we have a free box for children,” adds Ozdemir. “The children come and play here, learning how to dress up and trade while mothers breastfeed their babies.”
In even a brief amount of time spent at Burcu’s Angels, one thing is made clear — This boutique is a time machine not only because it sells vintage clothes, but also because it embodies the good old fashioned community values so often missing in our modernizing city.
Burcu’s Angels is located at 2355 East Hastings Street.