Mention The 3rd Policeman to any vintage devotee based in the capital and, without a moment’s hesitation, their eyes will light up – their speech pouring forth to wax lyrical on its eclectic array of garments and antiques. Stepping into this Rathmines boutique, one instantly feels as if they’ve entered a vibrant Aladdin’s cave: rails of kaleidoscopic printed dresses and embroidered suede jackets reside contentedly amongst vintage homewares, antique furniture and an innumerable quantity of curios. With such an abundance of unique stock, one could presume that certain items inevitably get hidden in a sea of other desirable artefacts – however, this could not be further from the truth. It quickly becomes evident that every piece gracing the shop floor has been carefully sourced; thus making its presence known as strongly (and as colourfully) as the antiques it is surrounded by. One can never truly anticipate what their next purchase in-store will be – consumers may venture inside searching for a Chanel-esque tweed jacket or vintage denim, and end up leaving with a 1960s record player! I spoke to founder Alistair Elliman on the artisanship of vintage pieces, the French tradition of Brocante markets and the importance of wellbeing in entrepreneurial success.
When, and how, was The 3rd Policeman first established?
I’ve always had an interest in vintage furniture, instruments and clothing. My mother is an antiques enthusiast and we saw an opportunity to combine both dynamics. We’d been looking for an opportunity for around a year and hadn’t really found a premises that felt right. I grew up in Rathmines so when the space became available it felt like a good move. It’s great to see Rathmines come to life again in the last few years.
What does a typical day at work entail for you?
Answering Facebook and emails, steaming, pricing, taking photos, cleaning, polishing, selling, buying, helping customers.
Your boutique features a unique assortment of vintage garments, antiques and retro design pieces – do you have a preferred location for curating items, or does this vary each season?
We’ll source most of our products abroad and have a house in France that we use as our base. You can get nice stuff in Ireland, but not to the same extent as a larger landlocked country like France. There’s an amazing subculture over there that’s developed. Each town has its local Brocante, sometimes twice a year. This means that you’ll have hundreds of markets and fairs to go to every week – all in driving distance. Sometimes they’re great, sometimes you’ll find nothing. I’m usually not looking for anything specific, but I’ll know it when I see it!
What is the most memorable item you’ve sourced for The 3rd Policeman?
For me it was finding a Roland 808 vintage drum machine.
The rate at which high-street brands currently churn out their collections – prioritising speed over quality – appears to be reaching unprecedented heights. Do you feel that customers are even more appreciative of the timeless feel and calibre that vintage pieces offer, as a result?
You can really see the quality in many of the pieces and clothing I come across and it’s a shame that so many of these crafts are being replaced by other means. Indeed, things had to last and were made to be durable, there was no other way. What you got were beautiful hand-crafted items made from raw materials.
What is your view on Ireland’s developing fashion and design industry – and from a retailer’s perspective, do you feel there are ways in which this area’s growth could be enhanced?
We’re now seeing new businesses popping up everywhere and it’s great to see confidence being restored both within retail and the service industry. I think as long as people can tap into their creativity, we’ll see a surge in quality services and products across the board.
What advice would you give to any young entrepreneurs looking to carve out businesses in Dublin’s independent retail sector?
Do things that make you feel good, be grateful, exercise, eat well, meditate.