Jam-packed to the ceiling with vintage jackets, Doc Martens and 501 Levi’s jeans, a small shop lies tucked away in the Historic Properties mall on the Halifax waterfront.

KingsPIER vintage catches the eye of passerby with its warm-toned lighting and the drifting smell of cedar and linen. The throwback retailer has come a long way from its rural origins.

Laura MacNutt opened the doors to her collection in 2013 in a small barn off the first exit to Wolfville, N.S., surrounded by sheep, goats and leather jackets. Her collection has been growing for over 30 years. Educated in textiles and fine arts, MacNutt first started collecting vintage apparel through her work in films such as locally-produced Pit Pony in 1997 where she was art director and production designer.

caption “Whether it reminds you of somebody else or it was somebody else’s, you embrace it,” says KingsPIER vintage owner Laura MacNutt.
Elena Neufeld

“When I started, slow fashion was not a word that existed,” MacNutt told The Signal at her shop on Upper Water Street.

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“Vintage was not anything, secondary clothing was relegated to the bins of Frenchy’s and Value Village.”

KingsPIER vintage is not a well-known location; most customers told The Signal it was their first time setting foot in the shop.

However, MacNutt said profit was never the reason she opened her doors. She said she’s fighting to save the planet from “fast fashion,” which is the production of clothing by mass-market retailers to keep up with trends. According to the UN Environment Programme, the fast-fashion industry is the second-biggest consumer of water, with global carbon emissions of between two and eight per cent.

caption Some of MacNutt’s in-store stock has been featured in Canadian films and TV shows.
Elena Neufeld

MacNutt expressed her love for vintage, which is a style she said isn’t achievable through fast fashion.

“Whether it reminds you of somebody else or it was somebody else’s, you embrace it,” she said. “Those things are important, opposed to just picking out four T-shirts made in Bangladesh at the hands of some poor woman desperately trying to make a living.”

Costume supplier

She said interest from young adults piqued recently when some of her in-store stock was featured in TV shows such as The Man in the High Castle and My Little Eye, and films including Books of Blood, all filmed in Canada. James Taylor, the pop-folk star and six-time Grammy winner, also bought clothing and apparel from the shop, MacNutt said. He stumbled across KingsPIER vintage one night on his most recent tour to Halifax in 2022, said the storeowner.

KingsPIER vintage roller skates
caption KingsPIER vintage owner Laura MacNutt says the “imperfections and blemishes” of vintage apparel “remind us of human experiences”.
Elena Neufeld

Vanessa Lockerbie, an employee who has been working at the shop for years, told The Signal that one of the highlights of her job is watching clients have fun while trying on different pieces.
“I never know what Laura’s going to bring in,” said Lockerbie. “It’s always an exciting day when she brings in a new bag of items.”

Future plans

MacNutt said she hopes to rent a kiosk on the Halifax waterfront this summer with a goal of raising awareness about sustainable fashion.  Fighting against wasteful worldwide fashion practices might sound like an ambitious goal but MacNutt said she’ll focus on one boot at a time.

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