Behind The Vintage: Aspen Raney of Kuration Collective

For our latest “Behind The Vintage” feature, we were able to interview Alaska’s own Aspen Raney, the woman behind Kuration Collective. She has a growing collection of secondhand pieces that are as eclectic and colorful as her personality and speak to her inner child. You’re sure to find tons of cartoon character pieces, bold fonts and patterns from all decades in her shop!

In her interview, Aspen tells us a bit about Alaskan fashion, her signature look, and her hopes for growing Kuration Collective outside of her home. Make sure to read until the end for a heartfelt moment. <3

How were you initially exposed to the idea of buying vintage and secondhand clothing? Where did your interest in it come from?

My first experiences with buying secondhand clothing came from shopping at and selling to consignment stores. I started doing that around the age of 16 when I could drive and had my own money. When I got my first apartment around 19, I started thrifting and my love for vintage blossomed from there.

Is there a stigma or culture around shopping secondhand in Alaska? Or maybe nothing at all?

In general, I think there’s still a stigma and misinformation with secondhand shopping. I wouldn’t say it’s specific to Alaska.

Has your geography impacted your sourcing strategy and techniques? Do you ever find yourself struggling to source?

There are multiple thrift stores within a 5-mile radius from my home so I’m extremely lucky to not have to travel far. Some sourcing days are amazing and some are not, but I’ve never left a store empty handed.

What does the clothing in the thrift stores say about the people of Alaska? And what do the pieces you source say about you?

People in Alaska are pretty casual so the t-shirt and jeans sections are always full. Carhartts are a staple around here so it’s interesting to see how they’ve become trendy in fashion.

My signature look with Kuration has always been about blending categories. For example, pairing a novelty tee with a pair of dress pants or a 60’s dress with modern sneakers. The pieces I source and the way I style them shows my eclectic personality.

You curate a lot of colorful and nostalgic pieces for your shop. What decade is your favorite to wear or curate from? And is your personal style reflected at all in the pieces you curate?

One of my favorite decades is the 90’s. It’s very nostalgic because I was a young child in the 90’s and early 2000’s. I was obsessed with the fashion in movies like Clueless, Josie and the Pussycats, Spice World etc.

I definitely curate items that are interesting to me. Even if it’s not something I would typically wear, I have to like it enough to be able to style it and be excited to share it with my customers.

As a parent, do you ever find yourself sharing your love for secondhand with your little one — intentionally or not?

My son is usually with me when I’m out thrifting/sourcing and he knows all about my business and how it works. He’s only 6 and doesn’t have much interest in fashion but he loves finding toys and books at the thrift store. He even offers to donate the things he no longer plays with which truly warms my heart.

Where do you see Kuration Collective in 5 years?

My next big goal is to have a studio space outside of my home where I can continue to shoot photos but also have a place for my local customers to shop in person. I’d also love to have 1 or 2 employees to help with content creating and modeling so I’m not spread so thin. Overall, my hope is that Kuration Collective can continue to thrive and have a place in this growing and competitive market.