Based in Philadelphia, Search and Rescue is a brand that prides themselves in creating a unique shopping experience for antique and fashion enthusiasts alike.
Much like how Ralph Lauren used his visual displays to communicate the stories he told through his clothing, Search and Rescue has use this same premise to speak to a different generation who can appreciate the vintage aesthetic design while browsing for vintage gems. Taking full creative control with their presentation, each pop-up and trade show booth comes draped and decorated with original photography, collectible antiques and even furniture that’s found and restored for merchandising purposes.
I had the privilege of talking with Coach Gaines from Search and Rescue as we discussed Philadelphia’s influence on the brand, the importance of connecting with your customers in person and finding a niche with vintage fashion.
So let’s talk about the brand. How did Search and Rescue get started?
The chapter of Search and Rescue began at the ending of our previous business Kamouflage. We developed a concept store in Chelternham Mall where we sold brands that we developed such as Meezan Artcouture and Kamo, as well as introducing many of the contemporary brands during that time such as Scotch and Soda Evisu, and Cult of individuality. The economy took a dip and slowed our business to the point we had to close the store. This forced us to explore options such as flea markets and pop up venues to continue to engage with our supporters. While at the flea markets, we started to source antiques and vintage to supplement sales.
The process of sourcing was referred to as Search and Rescue. Finding items that people did not see much value in and re introducing them to the market. The method of sourcing opened us up to design on another level. Instead of being influenced by Ralph Lauren we were beginning to tap into what actually inspired him. The apparel concept first started with reworking vintage clothes and customizing. The clothes started to get a bit redundant so we began to collect unique objects and industrial elements for interior design.
Our entry into this world was via window displays and tradeshow booths. Because of the relationships we built in the fashion industry we were able to get opportunities with brands developing visual concepts. The process of looking for a brand or a small business that may need our aid was also referred to as Search and Rescue. And most important, Search and Rescue was our call for help, the starving artist in need of support.
What influence has Philadelphia played on the brand?
Philadelphia is the heart and soul of our brand. Everyone that contributes to the brand are from here and everything is sourced locally. This brand literally arose from the inner city ruble and ruins.
When it comes to your pop-ups you all really go above and beyond with the presentation. How important is it to create such a vibrant display for your customers with each showcase?
It’s very important to make a long lasting impression with our installations, as well as offer the layers and texture that will keep people emotionally engaged.
You have connected with your supporters and customers through nontraditional outlets, including social media. How has connecting with your customers personally & remotely impacted Search and Rescue?
Social media has been a huge platform for our exposure, but if we didn’t already have the relationships from real time networking and showing up at the market places, it would have fell on blind eyes. People have to build trust with your brand and that comes from real time engagement and helping others to succeed.
Keeping the brand connected to Philadelphia seems really important. Is there ever a plan for an official Brick and Mortar in Philadelphia in the near future?
Right now we have a Showroom and work shop in Chester, Pa. and we sell our products at The Bellargo Boutique on South St.
Search and Rescue apparel seems to focus on individuality. And a lot of pieces are found and restored by hand for your customers. Did you all see a demand and audience for people who love vintage pieces? Or is this purely something you all did for yourselves that took off and connected?
We noticed the trend of vintage aesthetics being used in Modern design. Using real vintage items and reworking them for a modern consumer was our service to the culture. We were able to offer authentic details and trims that would normally raise the cost of the garment, and provide a more affordable designer product.
Looking towards the future what can we expect from Search and Rescue as far as product releases and collaborations?
In the near future we plan to introduce a core line of product that merges furniture and fashion as well as launch an online store. As for collaborations we do not have any official collaborations lined up, but we will continue to service the industry behind the scenes.