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"My mother was a model and she opened the Lower East Side's first vintage shop in the late Sixties," says Ziprin, looking around at the racks of shoes she'd been frantically organizing for her opening last week. "I like to think that her influence lives on." Indeed, portraits of her late mother watch over shelves full of Ziprin's archive collection, which she rents to accessories designers from major labels such as Ralph Lauren and Coach looking for inspiration. Fashion stylists from magazines such as Italian Vogue also mine her collection for their shoots.
Ziprin, who grew up in New York before her family moved to California and into Timothy Leary's Berkeley house, started her business out of a temporary gallery space in Brooklyn's Dumbo neighborhood. (Sister Dana still lives out West and scours the coast for the shoes — again, through underground contacts). Now, after a year at her Hester Street location selling by private appointment, Ziprin is ready to open to the public. Amongst her collection, which retails from $65 to $250, afficionados can find gems such as unimaginably tall python platforms, a pair of Fifties red-and-yellow plaid stilettos and suede heels kitted out with a gizmo called a "springalator" sole.
As for Ziprin, there are certainly hidden benefits. "I live right upstairs, but the closets in my apartment are so small that I keep the majority of my shoes down here," she says. "I just come down here after I get dressed and pick out a pair."