No Signal x Heroine: The Jean Paul Gaultier Sale
We've partnered with Emily Blackwell of No Signal, an Atlanta-based resale shop, to bring you an exclusive 92-piece Jean Paul Gaultier sale. Read our interview with Emily and shop her collection below.
Photography by Josiah Rundles.
For those unfamiliar, tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your Atlanta-based store, No Signal.
I'm originally from Tucson, Arizona where I lived until moving to Atlanta. After moving out of Newton County my mom transferred me into private school an hour and a half outside Stone Mountain where we lived in hopes that I would have a better shot at a good college. I remember my first day in uniform seeing all the girls' designer handbags and how it made each girl stand out in her own way. Before moving to Georgia I grew up around Sean John, Phat Farm, and Skater trends so I wasn’t really aware of fashion houses in the literal sense. I still remember the first designer item I ever owned—it was my first year of middle school and I won a velour Juicy bag with my mom on an eBay auction. Juicy was expensive and I remember always wanting one, but never wanting to press it on my mom so I saved and waited until I got birthday money from my aunt to try to win one. It wasn’t until I took my bag to school around all the other girls who had them, that I realized mine was fake.
This bothered me at that age, as a girl in a new school surrounded by kids who were well off. I never had the heart to tell my mom and I still used the bag until holes formed in the bottom, but it made me aware of detail. I am really good with authenticating things now. I want to avoid another kid from saving up for that one item only to get dubbed not knowing better. Most of the time the people who get taken advantage of on the resale market are the people who aren’t able to afford these items at their current season and aren’t in contact with other items from the same brands in order to compare.
I would say for me personally No Signal was started as a landing pad for kids and creatives in Atlanta who are continually overlooked and written off when showcasing their work and their creativity on public platforms. Atlanta is a major city, but it's still small minded as far as career paths. Most of the kids I grew up with, if they pursued any sort of creative outlet, they were on their own from that point on. In cities like LA or NYC creativity is fostered and given so there are many more respected outlets where people can create something stable for themselves. Don’t get me wrong—I applaud everyone in school and I definitely think its important, but I also believe it is drying out our media and creativity. Realistically, by the time you can get a job at these companies or even some of these fashion houses, you’re already out of touch yourself. You spend 4+ years to get an entry-level job only to now be asked to create content appealing to 16-23 year olds? Not possible. Corporate to me is kind of like that kid at the table who just wants to be popular so he sticks next to the coolest kid and mimics him in order to gain that same respect. To me and to the people I work with that outline is spotted easily.
No Signal is composed of creative content from collectors involved in the culture now. Instead of going out and researching whats hot or looking at Twitter analytics, we simply look to our left and our right. No Signal has worked with kids from Downtown, from the suburbs, from Southside, East side, West End, from all over Atlanta, and that's how its supposed to be. I didn’t want to start a store that misrepresented the community I work with and am selling to.
At just 22, you've launched your own business and opened your own storefront. What have been the biggest challenges and what are the biggest rewards?
I would say preparation. It has been unbelievable, the amount of unexpected bumps I deal with owning a brick and mortar store. People don’t talk about a lot of the setup aspect of small businesses and I was really on my own as far as setup goes, so its very easy to get overwhelmed or even discouraged when you are trying to put something together yourself. When people ask I would really just say Google was my main source of starting No Signal.
The biggest reward with No Signal is really just being able to run my future myself, and the ability to put people who have inspired me in the position to create things on a platform.
Do you ever feel like people doubt you because of your age?
I do think I experience the surprise factor when I’m talking to people. The generation that raised mine is still pretty out of touch with the internet age. People are fascinated and sometimes put off by the fact that my generation is able to generate income in so many different ways. I would say age has played a factor in how people have perceived and treated me, but as a woman in general this is usually expected. People write off anything they don’t understand themselves, whether its race, age, gender, what have you, so I try to ignore that fact and just get what I need to be completed.
When did you start collecting JPG and what about the brand draws you in?
I’ve always been influenced by the things my parents were into; my father led me to Vivienne Westwood through his old tickets and CDs I was given after he passed and my mother is the feminine side of me that loves lace-up corsets and rebuilt dresses. Anyone who knows me knows I collect corsets and bondage wear, but it wasn’t until 2015 that I was able to really afford to get some of the pieces that I have today.
Tell us about your upcoming trip to Paris for Gaultier's Freak Show at Folies Bergere.
For my 23rd birthday this year I decided to get tickets to the Gaultier Freakshow as my first introduction to Paris. The show is open to the public, but I would say it is definitely something you wouldn't be aware of in the US unless you were looking for it. The show is basically a musical concept put together to explain Jean Paul's life story and where he and his inspiration stemmed from.
You mentioned before that Atlanta isn't the first place most people would expect to find a strong archival market. Who is your customer and how do you think you are creating a new market for the area?
The general community in Atlanta is very tightly knit. A lot of the youth in Atlanta has been raised with an awareness of separation of class and social stereotypes, so it is much harder to really dive into your creative interests—particularly fashion-based—when you’re already so heavily categorized in the South. I believe fashion is the industry that Atlanta has always been new and eccentric with—trends that start here just don’t become “cool” or acceptable until our artists and influencers take these same trends to those bigger cities. Part of the reason I started No Signal was to embrace that same gift at its core without it feeling so pre-packaged and sold back to us. My friends and I wanted to have a store for the kids here who are collectors, but who generally don’t even get the opportunity to see or feel the garments they love in person.
Community plays a large role in the resell market both online and off—through forums, collaborations, and pop-ups. How has the community element of this market helped improve your business?
Grailed was the first place other than eBay and etsy that I would really say kids were able to trade and sell the items that they collect. Grailed definitely added that more personalized side to the resale market and created a wider community of collectors. Jalen (@playboypoop) who works alongside me at No Signal really was the one who showed me the community-driven side to Grailed. People know of Jalen through his seller pages and I would most definitely say its added an element of trust in the market to his name. We get kids in all the time that will specifically ask for "Poop" when looking to shop and I think a lot of this started with the Grailed community.