Selling £2m+ of vintage fashion on Instagram and mobile with Rory Westbrook of True Vintage (episode 247)

Rory Westbrook is the founder of True Vintage, a streetwear retailer he founded from his university bedroom in 2014. Specialising in reviving vintage styles they now have yearly sales over £2m. Focusing on Instagram, Email marketing, and getting their mobile user experience stop on has led to huge sales growth.

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About the Business

  • Selling worldwide
  • Specializes in 90s fashion
  • Majority Vintage with some new design
  • Shopify Plus

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About Rory

Rory has always been interested in fashion and has been working in retail since the age of 16. As a fashion-conscious young person, he spent a good deal of time shopping online and paying attention to the user experiences provided by different retailers.

In college, he began collecting vintage clothing more seriously and quickly started turning it around at a profit. He says he appreciated that the vintage clothing he loved was different from what other people had and he was able to sell it on when he was finished.

Using eBay and other marketplace channels he quickly realized that there was a lot of money to be made in the niche and launched True Vintage while he was still at school. 

First Steps

Rory started by creating an Instagram account for the brand and saw immediate traction. Within a week of his initial Instagram success, he had a website up and running and the business took off from there.

Luckily for him, his University studies in Business overlapped with his new gig and he was able to finish his studies and nurture the business simultaneously. 


An online retailer specializing in one of a kind items has a unique set of difficulties.  While their bread and butter are the 90’s fashions they are know for, True Vintage has also started experimenting with designing new clothing and incorporating them into the product mix.

As for the vintage—Rory and his team bring in upwards of 1,000 new pieces of clothing every week. They use a mix of partners online and in-person to amass the volume they need. The combination of unique SKUs and massive volume presents a unique challenge for an eCommerce business.

Rory points out that everything has to be done for every single product. Photographing, describing, measuring and posting for every single item takes an enormous amount of effort and time. 

The Team

There are 10 members on the team— including Rory’s brother Guy who looks after the creative content direction. With the exception of web development, the company runs an entirely in house team that including marketing, design, and operations. 

Growing the mobile business

The core of the business—over 80% comes from mobile users—a phenomenon that Rory attributes to a young customer base. Many of their customers come straight through Instagram to their mobile website or app.

Because of the uniqueness of their product, the True Vintage team focuses on organic Instagram content. Rory says that they focus on engagement, competitions and creating high-value content that customers naturally pass on to their friends.

Building the App

With 80% of traffic coming through mobile, Rory and his team wanted to find a way to make that customer experience even more seamless. After hearing from their customers, they decided that the best way to accomplish this was through the creation of a mobile app.

The app, Rory says has been hugely successful in terms of conversion rates, in part thanks to increased engagement from the use of push notifications. The venture has been so successful that Rory launched Shoppex, an intuitive app building platform to help other people increase the value of their mobile traffic.

True Vintage uses the app for recruitment and retention. By offering special access and discounts, the app has become a useful tool for their entire customer base—not just their already loyal customers. 

Email Marketing

Even though True Vintage is primarily focused on mobile, they still see the value in email marketing. When they moved from Mailchimp to Klaviyo Rory says they saw a huge improvement.

While they had Mailchimp he says they didn’t really use it. Once they implemented Klaviyo’s automated welcome series and began to fine-tune their newsletter email became much more valuable than the company had ever realized.

eCommerce Book Top Tip

eCommerce Traffic Top Tip

Tool Top Tip

  • Trello for Project Management has helped the team stick to deadlines and not miss things. 

Growth Top Tip

  • Provide the best possible customer experience on your website. Whether that means optimizing for mobile or simply providing a positive customer experience that includes ease of use, keeping updated stock and offering loyalty schemes. 

Interview Links

Related episodes

  • Wines with Attitude’s Linsay Cornelissen – mobile apps, customer focus, and increasing customers 20% yoy
  • Takeaways from MeetMagento UK inc lots of mobile and conversion rate optimisation tips
  • On The Tools’ Lee Wilcox gives a masterclass in social media inc Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram

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