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Sacred Heart of Vintage: The new Dublin shop where everyone is welcome

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by Adam Walsh
06th Sep 2023

As Sustainable September gets underway, stylist Adam Walsh sits down with Sophie McQuade – the woman behind Dublin's newest vintage venture.

My love of vintage clothing started back in college when, in 2019, I met one of my now best friends Sophie McQuade. Sophie is the daughter of Frank McQuade who is the owner of the Flip Vintage franchise. Thanks to my friendship with Sophie, I’ve accumulated such a love and knowledge of vintage clothing over the past few years.

Recently opening her own vintage clothing store, Sacred Heart of Vintage has been a passion project of Sophie’s for as long as I’ve known her. Upstairs in the original Flip store, the rails are overflowing with vintage gems. Together, we have just wrapped up a great shoot with a fantastic team and now, I am sitting down to chat with her about the love that went into her latest venture. 

Starting from the beginning, Sophie tells me about how the Flip franchise began. Her father, Frank, got involved in the vintage clothing industry in the 1970s through his older brother who he would help with flea markets as well as sourcing and selling clothes. When he realised how lucrative it could potentially be, Frank began his own journey into vintage re-selling. Studying art at NCAD at the time, he would sell vintage clothing in the student union building on his lunch breaks. In 1987, he set up a bricks and mortar shop in Temple Bar… within a few years, he had opened 10 different shops. 

In the early 90s, Frank decided to then head up north to Derry, Sophie tells me. It was important to him to employ and engage local youths in an attempt to distract them from the prominent political troubles at the time – he wanted to give them a creative outlet while also giving something back to the community that he was living in at that time.

Fast forward to September 2023, and Sophie has continued his legacy with her own vintage venture located upstairs in the iconic store. Bringing a new outlook to the same timeless style, Sophie says that she’s loved all things vintage since she was just a young girl and would come to work with her dad during the summer/on weekends. Together they would go through bags upon bags of stock. Her dad would be able to tell just by a label where it was made and how it was manufactured – it’s from him that Sophie learned about the little details that make vintage pieces so special.

What sets her shop apart from other vintage outlets in the city centre? According to Sophie, her main goal is to provide unusual vintage clothing for people of all sizes. Size inclusivity is at the heart of this new venture and she wants absolutely anyone to be able to walk in and find something that they will be able to keep, wear and love for years to come; no matter what size you are or how you identify, everyone is welcome.

Adam Walsh and Sophie McQuade

One of the first things I noticed about Sophie when I met her was her cool sense of style. As we’re sitting here, she is wearing a vintage Ireland football jersey, a leather waistcoat, a mini skirt and a pair of platform New Rocks alongside a fistful of chunky silver rings and some slim black sunnies. Sophie says that in the last few years, working with vintage clothing has given her a very different outlook on how she treats clothing. Instead of just getting rid of a piece when it becomes too worn or perhaps damaged, she’s learned how to upcycle and mend her clothing to give it a new lease of life. Whether that be dyeing, sewing or patching up garments, she realised that there are so many ways to show love to older clothes.

While sustainability has become a huge factor as to why so many people have turned to vintage and second hand stores, shopping local is also something that Sophie is incredibly passionate about. Earlier in the year, the business suffered quite a setback when the warehouse where all of the clothing was being stored caught fire and tens of years of collecting was gone.

Now back up on their feet, Sophie re-discovered just how important it is to support local businesses wherever possible – the €100 you spend in a high street store goes straight into a corporation’s pocket but for local shops, it helps to keep the doors open of stores that are truly passionate about their hand-picked items.

A common misconception about vintage clothing is that it’s sourced from second hand donations, however, that’s not necessarily the case. At Sacred Heart, Sophie and the team travel all over the world – from Amsterdam to Thailand to France – to work with wholesalers and textile plants to curate their stock.

For anyone looking to dip their toes into buying vintage clothing, knowing your measurements is important. Vintage stores carry so much clothing from so many different designers, brands and decades worldwide, so there is no size guide; knowing your measurements will come in handy and save you poring over pieces that won’t fit you. Patience is also key. Shopping vintage takes time and you won’t build up a vintage wardrobe overnight, so you have to be willing to let it grow and change as you do.

Sophie’s top vintage wardrobe staples everyone should have:

  • An oversized blazer
  • A good quality pair of straight-leg jeans
  • A leather jacket in your preferred style – whether that be a bomber jacket, a trench or a biker jacket

Sacred Heart of Vintage can be found upstairs at 4 Temple Bar Square. Follow them on Instagram @sacredheartofvintage.

Creative team – Photographer: Isabel Farrington. Stylists: Adam Walsh @ Morgan the Agency and Sophie McQuade. All clothing was sourced from Sacred Heart of Vintage. Models: Freya O’Dwyer @ Morgan the Agency, Katelyn Leggitt, Sebastian Wolfe and Joseph Toolan.