bg image.png__PID:03c37356-406c-4543-9d16-9d6c6e356c64

On the corner of W. Hasting and Cambie Street, right between Pure Bread and Kafka Coffee, two Vancouver local businesses, sits 157Moments, a fashion buyer store that is also very much a local small business. Even though some aspects about it are not so local - the owner of the store and the team, for most of the time, are in fact all relatively new residents in Canada, even the clothes themselves too. But then as everything moves and goes in the world, who is there to judge what is local or not? And apart from the “local” bit, it is indeed super “small”, in aspects that I will explain later.

Like many other local fashion stores in the area of Gastown, 157Moments has a lot of unique pieces and cute decorations. But, as a newly joined member, I find something about it quite special and different from other places. Every time you open the door of 157Moments, chances are you will be able to see the owner, Winnie, greeting you directly by the door or from the counter, and probably eager to help you choose and style the pieces. This is the very same person that chose and contacted the brands, bought the pieces, furnished the place, trained the staff and took care of all the corners in this space. It is in this sense that it is a very small clothing business.

Driven by this unique trait of 157Moments, I started this interview with Winnie to tell the behind-the-scenes story of 157Moments and her.

Xuning Wang
Winnie Zhao

Can you briefly introduce your relationship with 157Moments?

I am Winnie and I am the buyer and owner of 157Moments. I am the big sister of my crew.

Many people don’t know much about the stories behind you and 157Moments, could you tell us a little bit on why you started this business in the beginning?

I have been a buyer since I was 18. When I was a student, I would go back to my hometown every summer, while my high school was in another city. Before I went back to my hometown, I would go to local markets to gather and collect small pieces of objects that interested me, so that I could sell them in the summer night market in my hometown city. It was quite an interesting experience for me. I would usually go out at 6PM with my bike, lay down my mattress and place down all the pieces into different categories, people would squat down to browse, to search and to discover. I have had good eyes as a buyer since then.

Can you tell us about the experience of running the store for the first few years in Richmond?

Well, even though I had been selling things since I was 18, running a whole store is very different. It requires effort from head to toe. I had no experience with stocking, inventories, and marketing. I was a piece of blank paper that had no idea of what I was about to face.


Winnie organizing WHM pieces on the rack

How has it changed since it moved to Gastown for more than a year?

Gatown has always been my dream location. I remembered the first time when I came to visit gastown ten years ago. I knew immediately that this is where I would settle. However, everything here is very different compared to Richmond. My clientile changed completely - being a quite touristy spot, Gastown rarely has visitors that are local to here.

What is your vision for the future of 157Moments?

Well it’s really hard to say, we love to represent small and independent designers around the world. For now, I am still not too sure about what the future of fashion and fashion retail in Vancouver would look like, since most people here are very attracted to a particular type of apparel, athleisure, for example.

Does running this business have any impact on your personal life? Both pragmatically and mentally?

I see 157Moments as my personal shelter. This is where I feel safe to present myself to people - where I feel comfortable enough to communicate my opinions, to build relationships, and to send peace and love. And I hope everyone who walks in will feel the same way.


Winnie trying on suit from BVM

Can you explain what motivates you to choose the pieces that you chose to bring to the store and to Vancouver?

This is a really tough question. Couple of years ago, I only chose what I liked to put on the racks. Now, I am finding a balance between what I personally like and what my audiences may like. Reading charts and numbers are never my strengths, so I am glad to have Cooper (my husband and my partner in this business) to be involved and to give his r ational insights on our selections.


Winnie and Cooper wearing Roaringwild / Decorating display windows of 157Moments

And now a trickier question, what do you think about the fact that many of the pieces are from Chinese brands?

I know it should be the most natural thing to want to introduce nice things from one’s country and share with others. But there have been stereotypes associated with products made in China. And I know there have been discussions on whether it would affect people’s first impressions on the store itself. Can you share your opinions on this topic?Well, when I see a piece of garment, it’s never been a question to me as to where it's from or made. I reach out to the brands or brands reach out to me because we share the same values. In my eyes, who is the designer is the most important thing. I recognize the pieces by recognizing the designer.


Winnie in a Dunst/FAFAMOON outfit

Lastly, is there anything you want to add to this behind-the-scenes story between 157Moments and yourself?

People sometimes say that buyers collect the pieces they have because they have a good eye or a good taste. However for me, I would say that as buyers we represent the values we wanna share with our audiences. Size, Color, Silouette, Cutting, Material are all the essentials of a garment. But the most important thing for me is that myself, my crew, the designers and my audience are a group of people who share the same values. And what we put on every day is a language that we all believe in.

Interview: Xuning Wang
Photography: Xuning Wang
Date: February 6, 2024