A dedicated curator of vintage eyewear, Tarek Sallab has amassed celebrity clientele across the world with his one-off pieces from some of fashion's most iconic brands. Here he talks about his most precious finds.
With summer in full swing, most Egyptian fashionistas have one man on speed dial: Tarek Sallab, the name synonymous with the rare and extraordinary vintage sunglasses with his business VNTG. Sallab’s been in the game for quite a while, traveling all over the world shade hunting. Owning over 100,000 pieces, including every Ray-Ban or Persol model ever made, he's the man to go to if you're sick of the copy/paste looks that seem to populate our beaches. He even owns a pair of the world’s most sought after sunglasses by Mikli, the Cle de Sol; originally a limited edition of 20 made exclusively for Andy Warhol. Hearing Sallab talk about each piece, it’s clear he’s passionate about what he does.
Vintage, in fashion terms, is used to describe anything made before 1999. And as with anything that was made in the 90s or earlier, products held so much more value, and the name bearing the design meant quality and durability above all. Better yet, when you buy vintage, you’re most likely picking out an item that is unique. “I started out buying pieces in and around Cairo, and when I cleaned out those stores I started to go to Mansoura or Alexandria, where I would find nice old Ray-Bans or Persols” he says. “Today’s brands can’t really make shades like they once used to; all that time and effort would cost six times as much, subsequently if you hold a new pair next to the vintage ones there’s just no comparison."
Having since travelled far and wide, hunting for unique specs and shades, and has amassed a global clientele thanks to his unique eye, and brilliant online marketing. Celebrities across the world have approached VNTG to get their hands on the retro, one-of-a-kind pieces and Sallab counts musicians such as The Weekend, Wiz-Khalifa, Drake, Flo-Rida, Miguel and many more among his loyal customers.
Sallab has set up shop in Toronto, with plans to re-locate somewhere in California later in the year, however his eyes are set on Egypt, with very near future plans to open shops in Zamalek and Maadi. Currently, you can shop his collection via Instagram, or go try a select collection on in person at ABnGWorld. Despite not selling as much locally, and that is partly because the market is lacking in knowledge, he feels like it’s a market where people can get educated about vintage eyewear and the history each piece holds. “As an Egyptian I feel like it’s my duty to be around and educate the people here. Like, if I’m in the store and someone walks in I could educate them to look for quality rather than brand because in the vintage world, some stuff bearing no emblem could cost five times as much as something with a logo on it. You can feel it in the handmade craftsmanship and such,” he adds. “Another example is that Ray-Ban used to have a lifetime guarantee with their products. Stuff was really manufactured to last forever.”
When asked to recall the most exciting moment in the vintage world he recalls, “One time I went to India and my mind was blown away a guy opened a warehouse of unworn brand new shades from various brands. When the factories where shutting down he kept buying huge amounts of stock and storing them in this warehouse. Just the feel of walking past cobwebs and blowing off dust to reveal hidden treasures was like nothing I’ve felt before.”