It’s no secret that New York City is a culture obsessed with the latest and greatest—the hottest new restaurants, impossible-to-get-into clubs, and of course, whatever trends the Kardashians are sporting this week.
But in our infatuation with the new lies a surprising fascination with the old—a recycling of the past that somehow informs our current cultural zeitgeist.
And quietly, without anybody really noticing, vintage fashion enters the chat.
An entirely new category is born. Or technically, reborn.
How was the fashion industry going to adapt? How were they going to capitalize on this newfound obsession with the old?
Not everybody would be able to pivot (yes, we know this word gives us all a little March 2020 PTSD).
Not everybody would be able to embrace the current cultural moment.
But two 19-year-old girls by the names of Sari Cattan and Helena Dweck were able to do it.
In finding their niche, they found their in.
Here is their story.
Born in 1999 in Brooklyn, New York, Sari Cattan was always dedicated to fashion and sustainability.
At a young age, she would style her friends and family, constantly looking for the newest and hottest pieces to wear every day.
With experience working at premier fashion houses like Laquan Smith and Tommy Hilfiger, Sari had her pulse on the ever-evolving industry from a young age.
Sari’s experience in the workforce, coupled with a degree from Parsons School of Design, gave her the necessary tools to create something much larger than herself.
But Sari was missing something. Her partner in crime.
Born and raised in Tribeca, Helena grew up with a sharp eye for up-and-coming trends.
Infatuated with the effects mass production had on the environment from a young age, Helena was committed to doing her part to better the fashion industry.
Determined to find a solution, she would spend her days roaming in and out of the boutiques of Manhattan on a mission to find hidden vintage gems.
At the same time, she was working at renowned fashion house, Rosie Assoulin, where she would design and sew backstage during New York Fashion Week.
In 2020, after studying Business Administrations and Entrepreneurship, Helena graduated from Babson College.
So how did these two best friends combine forces? If you stop interrupting, we’ll tell you!
In the summer of 2018, Sari and Helena were two college students who needed summer jobs.
They both had a passion for fashion, vintage shopping, and of course, sustainability.
It was at this very moment that they realized they could use their hobbies to their advantage. They would lean into the current moment, and make a career out of it.
In March, they opened their first Instagram account.
Both Sari and Helena had some vintage pieces from their grandmother's closets that quickly became wardrobe necessities, and they thought others could use the same.
So, they collected their favorite designer vintage pieces, photographed the inventory on their phones, and posted it on their account to sell to friends and family.
“Our first sale came the night we opened up our Instagram, and it was a Dolce & Gabbana denim bustier top from a close friend. We were jumping for joy.”
The girls knew they were on their way to building something great.
With no startup funding or a clear business plan, Sari and Helena reinvested the money from sales made.
The seasons changed, and they continued to work through college part-time.
The budding entrepreneurs began sourcing through vintage wholesalers and private collectors. Slowly but surely, they created relationships with vendors, boutiques, and private sellers around the world.
In the blink of an eye, their footprint expanded behind the confines of Tribeca and Brooklyn. They were now sourcing from the fashion capitals of the world: Milan, Japan, Singapore, London, LA, and of course, New York City.
In 2021, they graduated college and decided to take on No Standing NYC full-time (there were a few name changes, but No Standing is what stuck).
The girls were fostering tangible change. This was one step in the right direction of stopping mass consumption and supporting the circular economy.
As time went on, they saw how the industry was growing, and they needed to grow with it.
With pop-ups being the “thing” of the time, Sari and Helena opened a four-day pop-up in a small space across the street on West Broadway in Downtown Manhattan.
As they were closing one evening, Helena noticed some people from the bachelor sitting for dinner at Cipriani across the street and introduced them to the brand.
That's how they got some of their first influencers.
The power-duo started focusing on influencer marketing to reach a larger audience and found that it was doing really well for the business. In an effort to raise brand awareness, Sari and Helena gifted influencers like WeWoreWhat (Danielle Bernstein), Kate Bock, Brooks Nader, Delilah Belle, Ellie Zeiler, and Suede Brooks.
They continued opening pop-ups and in May of 2021, they opened at 100 Wooster street. What was intended to be a one-week popup there turned into a six-week extravaganza.
“Having a retail store opened up so many new doors for us. We met tons of different people that we were able to build relationships with - whether it was an owner of another company who we later collaborated with or a new customer who turned into our most loyal. This was definitely one of our favorite parts of the job - meeting and interacting with anyone that walked through our doors.”
Although they were still selling on Instagram, the girls quickly learned that consumers wanted a website. After months of building their site, they finally opened nostandingnyc in August of 2021.
“Our website was really helpful for customers that were not too familiar with our brand (many from out of state) and made the shopping process so much easier on us and the customer.”
In October, Sari and Helena opened a pop-up at 39.5 Crosby Street. It was cool for them to compare the kind of customers they get in the different locations they pop-up in.
After closing in November, they knew they wouldn’t go back to working from their bedrooms. That’s when they decided to set up a showroom-turned-office for the two of them in midtown.
In February, the girls launched their longest-running popup yet - they wanted it until the summertime.
They canvassed the streets of Soho (as they always do before finding a space) and came across 133 Wooster Street. Fortunately, the space was available and they signed a lease for four months.
“We went from popping up for four days to four weeks, to four months. We actually just extended our four-month popup through mid-July.”
Things were happening. The industry was quietly shifting, one sale at a time.
“There is nothing like seeing strangers on the street holding our NSN tote bags or receiving photos from clients in their vintage pieces. Doing what we love, making other people happy, and doing good for the fashion industry is really so rewarding.”
Photography by: Courtesy No Standing NYC