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Afraid of Mice

A tale of two sisters and a cat

The opening of Long Street’s new vintage offering, Afraid of Mice, is a busy one. Champagne corks pop, the well-manicured hands of Cape Town’s fashion fabulous brush retro rails and mouths exclaim, “gosh, darling. That is simply divine”. A ringing till and the swish of dresses, enveloped in paper bags, provide our soundtrack.

Far from the dusty racks of clothes and grumpy clerks I’d usually associate with vintage stores, owners, Bianca and Simone Brandi’s shop is girly and romantic. Beautiful clothing stands out against white walls.

“My mum made the paper butterflies hanging in the window and a painting by my friend is on the wall at the back,” enthuses Bianca, “My store is full of little bits of treasure from my family and friends.”

Who’s afraid of mice?

The store was named after Bianca and Simone’s black cat, Rocky, who is apparently hard as nails, but when it comes to mice, he’s more ‘eye of the elephant’, than ‘eye of the tiger’. After an inspirational visit to vintage stores in America, the two sisters decided to follow their passion for fashion and open a vintage store of their own. Afraid of Mice was born.

“It hasn’t been easy, but it’s been worth it,” Bianca admits, “I’m passionate about what I do, I’m my own boss, and Simone and I make a great team.”

Their Woodstock store opened in February 2010, to rave reviews from Cape Town’s bloggers. Their dream was always to be on Long Street because of its energy, its accessibility and its reputation as the home of beautiful boutiques. When they saw the ‘to let’ sign they thought, “That’s our shop”.

“There’s something romantic about wearing clothes that have lived other lives”

“A dress might have been worn to a prom, or even a wedding, by its previous owner. It’s also conscionable, in our current economy, to buy recycled clothes,” Bianca says.

Designer vintage clothing from America and Europe hangs invitingly from the rails. I see Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Salvatorre Ferragamo, Diane von Furstenberg, Oscar de la Renta and Ralph Lauren. There are Mulberry, Nina Ricci and Prada handbags, as well as a stunning Marc Jacobs ‘Stam Bag’. Each statement item has been lovingly handpicked because there is something beautiful about it. Prices are accessible to all, from a R50 scarf to a R2 500 trench coat by Christian Lacroix. Darling!

“I jumped for joy when I found this ‘70s Halston dress, made of cashmere,” explains Bianca, as she shows me classic and elegant garments, “I also have these high waisted, tuxedo pants by Chanel. They’re a sample size and only one customer has been small enough to fit into them.”

“I find it hard to part with some of the garments because I fall in love with them. When I found a Chanel 2.55 handbag, I had every intention of selling it, but I just couldn’t part with it.”

At the opening, we overhear a satisfied customer agree: “I can see how in love you are with all of the garments you have chosen.”

Afraid of Mice is a vintage lover’s delight, where one-of-a-kind, statement garments have been cherry picked. In fact, you’ll find the very thing you wish your mother had kept for you.

Story by Lisa Nevitt, photographs by Antonia Heil

Afraid of Mice
88 Long Street | City Centre | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 423 7353

Opening times: between 10:00 and 16:00, from Monday – Friday, and between 09:30 and 12:30, on Saturdays.

Read our overviews of vintage stores in Cape Town and Long Street boutiques.We think Sea Point is a one-stop suburb for Cape Town's fashion forward.

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