RetroActivo is a project born in 2021 when Michela Siddu hosted a small second-hand market in Aljezur after noticing an increased demand for vintage and second-hand clothes.

WORDS Sophie Sadler

Originally from Sardinia, 30-year-old Michela studied and worked as an Optician for six years before ending up in Aljezur at the beginning of 2017. “I’ve collected vintage and second-hand clothes everywhere, mainly in California and Morocco,” she says. “I love little objects that tell stories. Vintage eyewear is also a big passion that is still following me!”

During the lockdown, Michela decided to open an Instagram account and sell some of her and her boyfriend’s worn clothes while the main clothing shops were closed. “People were coming to my place to try the clothes they had seen on Instagram, or I was delivering them around Aljezur. From September to January, the page grew very quickly. One day, I remember five people in my house using the bathroom as a changing room. Then and there, I saw the potential of growing this into a physical shop.”

It took Michela a while to find a place to rent, but after many closed doors and lots of perseverance, she found a place on the new side of Aljezur. In June 2021, the shop opened for the first time, selling a curated selection of vintage and second-hand clothes, small pre-loved furniture and home decorations.

“Not being on the main street made it a bit tough initially, but having a growing online presence and a loyal community has balanced it out. I am fortunate to be able to combine my passion for the world of vintage and collecting particular objects that come with a story and character and present this to the public. I feel that Aljezur and the Algarve have the right community of people who appreciate this.”

Michela also believes what she is doing is vital to slow down the pace of production of clothes that feed modern-day consumerism. “I love to look for special vintage clothes that last through decades or sometimes even eras and are destined to come back to a new owner’s closet.” 

Instagram: retroactivo.aljezur

Michela’s guide to achieving a vintage look

For me, what really helps is to choose an icon from a particular year, like Janis Joplin at the end of the 60s or Princess Diana in the 80s, to study the style and try to reproduce the outfit they were wearing. 

Watch old movies or series and pay attention to what the actors are wearing and how they are styled.

I also really like to mix styles and iconic pieces from specific years. I believe there is no more gender or style to follow anymore, I’m not a purist on these things, and the freedom of expression is everything in clothes.