Playground is a unique online vintage shop owned and curated by the dynamic duo, Uche and Bianca.
Uche: I describe myself as a black Nigerian-American woman. Eyes are always brown, but hair can change depending on my mood.
Bianca: I am of African American and French heritage with light skin, brown curly hair, and hazel eyes. I am 5’5 and medium af lol.
Could you describe Playground?
PLAYGROUND is an online vintage store that specializes in statement vintage clothing with a very modern bend to its styling in order to give it context and best reflect the way a lot of people actually wear vintage. We are self-proclaimed maximalists. PLAYGROUND’s foundation is that of vintage clothing, but we hope it becomes a platform for something much bigger than just fashion. You have different retailers that give their offering special treatment–excellent imagery and content to supplement the shopping experience. Vintage is treated a little differently, but we’d like to see that change by incorporating different elements like collection stories and styling with other brands. For now, we hope to offer customers a vintage shopping experience different from the norm, and you’ll just have to wait and see what else we have in store!
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO OPEN YOUR SHOP AND HOW DID YOU GET INTO VINTAGE FASHION?
Uche: Honestly, it started from wanting to create some experience of my own and to learn new skills, but quickly became something more. I have been into vintage since college. Imagine attending college in a city with 4 other schools within 10 miles of each other. Now imagine that that city only has ONE H&M, ONE Zara, and ONE Forever21 in the immediate area. Atlanta isn’t exactly known as a shopping destination, and it showed. While I don’t shop at those stores anymore, I did back then and very often recognized something I had purchased being worn by another person. Luckily I never wore the same thing as someone else at the same time, but it was still annoying, especially as someone who valued her individuality after spending all her life wearing uniforms. So I turned to ebay to find items that I knew no one else would have and before long, vintage and one-of-a-kind gems became a fixture in my wardrobe, and there are no signs of it letting up.
Bianca: I’ve always had a love for vintage fashion since I was a little girl. Growing up my mother was my idol and she happened to be quite the fashionista as well. She always wore the flyest outfits and was on point with every trend of the 80s and 90s. I loved watching her get dressed and mix different looks and styles together to create “the look.” In my eyes my mom looked, dressed, and acted like a celebrity–my very own Mariah Carey ( that’s who she always reminded me of). The one thing most of my friends always say they remember about her is how dope she dressed, and I have basically wanted to be exactly like her. As I got older, I became obsessed with dressing up in my moms old clothes and styling different vintage pieces from her time with more modern pieces. I actually began selling my own vintage pieces (mostly pieces from my moms closet and handmade pieces) and began to get a lot of traction on social media. I think when you become obsessed with something, it may mean that it’s actually your passion.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR OWN FASHION?
Uche: My personal style is a mix of vintage and luxury and contemporary fashion. I can wear vintage Coogi with Rick Owens and vintage leather pants with some Dries Van Noten. My style doesn’t have just one theme like athletic or ultra-feminine–it usually varies depending on my mood or the environment. Shoes are a major part of my wardrobe. Carrie Bradshaw is my influence here because I love to dress up a casual look with heels. I love me some Jordans, but I also can’t pass up a good mule–kitten or high, both are dope. I strongly believe in doing the most so the best way I can describe my style is “elevated”. Even when wearing sneakers, I like my outfit to have some extra “oomph” to it so interesting pieces have helped me achieve that. I LIVE for a good statement piece.
Bianca: I would describe my personal style as being very casual, sporty, and laid back. For me comfort is key. Vintage casual wear is dope to me because it allows you to be creative with the ways you style an outfit. My style is inspired mostly by my love for music and sports. I’m pretty into 90s hip-hop fashion, where clothes were more gender-neutral and heavily influenced by the culture of the time. Not to mention I also grew up as somewhat of a tomboy. For me, PLAYGROUND is more representative of my crazy and outgoing personality than it is of my personal style. Ultimately PLAYGROUND is the perfect mix of the differences between my business partner and me. We both have pretty drastic tastes in fashion and I think that’s what makes PLAYGROUND dope and gives us our edge!
WHAT IS SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR HERITAGE THAT MAKES YOU PROUD?
Uche: I’m Nigerian, which means I grew up surrounded by strong cultural influences. Aside from my culture being very family and community-based, I also appreciate how vibrant it is. Language, faith, dance, events, clothes–we are just a lively group of people, and I love that that effervescence is something that I can identify anywhere. I love that we are starting to get some of the credit we deserve; being acknowledged as the interesting, creative forces that we always have been. We have been inspiring and influencing people all over the world without even meaning to, and I think that was taken advantage of. But now, we are reclaiming what it means to be African, more specifically in my case, Nigerian, and despite the colonization that has negatively impacted my people and our country to this day, still we rise.
Bianca: In short, black people are magical! Need I say more? I’m very proud to be African American, as that’s how I primarily identify. I do not know too much about the specifics of my lineage aside from some French descent (creole heritage). I think black people are some of the most talented and resilient people on this earth. Black people are just a vibe; we are the trend; we are a ball of excellence, hope, and power wrapped into one. As a brown skin girl I love seeing other women like myself prosper and embrace everything that makes us unique. As two black girls trying to make it in the fashion industry, I hope we can inspire other women to chase their dreams and goals and to not be scared of taking a non-traditional route to success. Black women get the job done and we win, and for that I am proud and look forward to adding PLAYGROUND to the list of successful black-owned businesses.
WHO IS YOUR FASHION ICON?
Uche: Tracee Ellis Ross. I love when someone can mix it up and believes in the true power and beauty of fashion while doing so. It’s for her enjoyment, not anyone else’s. There doesn’t seem to be any second-guessing with her. She challenges the notion of fashion being frivolous by using it to support people and make statements. Not everyone will “get it”, but she doesn’t make that her problem.
Bianca: My fashion icon would probably be Aaliyah. Growing up Aaliyah was much more than an R&B artist–she was a trendsetter. The casual sportswear styles we see, even still today, she did it first. We’re talking baggy clothes and pants, crop tops, hoop earrings, sneakers, shades and her infamous swooped hair! I was obsessed (and still am). She definitely influenced a whole generation of young women, making it okay to not be super-duper girly and challenging gender norms. She did a great job of balancing being femnine and sexy and still having that tomboyish charm and edge. Women began rocking sports bras and jerseys with baggy track pants and boxers, and for a little girl who wasn’t too fond of wearing floral dresses and the color pink, this was iconic. Aaliyah’s style has been recycled and used as inspiration for years now, even after her passing, which just shows how influential she actually was.
WHAT SIZES ARE AVAILABLE IN YOUR SHOP?
PLAYGROUND is definitely size-inclusive as far as what sizes we wish to provide and make available for our customers. There are currently a range of sizes. We would love to have every size, but the nature of vintage and reselling means we have a limited amount of control over sizing. However, we do make an extra effort to source items of varying sizes because it is definitely our goal to find dope pieces for everyone–size should not exclude anyone from good vintage. We want to be able to highlight our plus-size offering better so if you or someone you know is a plus-size model in the Atlanta area, hit us up!
HOW CAN PEOPLE PURCHASE ITEMS FROM YOUR SHOP?
PLAYGROUND has a website, playgroundvs.com, through which people can explore different styles, read stories, and shop. People can also show directly from our Instagram and Facebook accounts–@playgroundvs. We’d like to think that even though our presence is online, it’s always an experience whether it’s the story for a collection or IG captions that highlight our personality. Buying our items is important, but we also want to be able to connect with our customers.