We all want an aunt like the one Alice Tam Sau-ying has. The designer and owner of the Aalis boutique on Yiu Wah Street, Causeway Bay, not only inherited a taste for luxurious heritage from the professional tai-tai, but also a wardrobe full of designer vintage wear. The centrepiece of Tam's wardrobe is a hand-stitched wedding dress made for her aunt in the 1960s. Although the dress is too formal for daily wear, Tam often uses the matching cape with a lace front and buttoned back. 'It's a match with skinny jeans and heels,' she says. Luckily for Tam, her aunt loves shopping. She shops so much that she needs to ditch her old stuff to make room for her new purchases. 'One woman's trash is another woman's treasure,' says Tam. Tam has received more than 20 pairs of Chanel, Salvatore Ferragamo and Prada vintage heels from her aunt. There's jewellery from Nina Ricci and Valentino, a couple of Chanel 2.55s, an ostrich bag from Comtesse and a box full of vintage scarves by Chanel, Christian Dior, Versace and Hermes. 'I'm definitely flying over if she ever has a yard sale,' says Tam of her Canadian-based aunt. Growing up with a stylish aunt and an equally posh mum, Tam slowly but surely built her own taste for high fashion. 'I like to flip through our family album and then try to dig out the old clothes my mum and my aunt wore in the pictures,' she says. She became interested in vintage clothing during a stay in the US. While studying marketing at Western Michigan University, Tam was a regular at antique malls. She often browsed the flea markets in New York when she attended a course at Parsons The New School for Design. Her finds include a Chloe tweed jacket, a houndstooth check coat from Valentino and a Chanel suit jacket, found in Brooklyn for just HK$2,000. 'I love the stories behind each piece. Everyone should have at least one vintage piece in their closet,' she says. 'I always get more compliments on my vintage finds than the modern designer brand items I have. When I tell people how I found the pieces, it starts a conversation.' During a recent trip to Taiwan, Tam bought six antique watches from a stall owned by an old couple. 'They'd had the shop for ages and hadn't sold that many watches lately. People don't appreciate those styles any more. For me, it was like hitting the jackpot,' she says. Tam's designer-stylist boyfriend Boysh Lam Kei-kwan apprenticed in Paris with Canto-pop diva Faye Wong's stylist Titi Kwan Wing-yan. When Tam and Lam decided to start their own label, Aalis, in 2009, they had their eyes on designing a vintage-inspired collection. 'Many modern designs aren't as interesting as the classics. Mass-produced fashion is too perfect. I miss the flaws that happen when things are not made so artificially,' she says. Hong Kong isn't famous for its vintage clothes. So Tam does most of her shopping online, or during her trips overseas. One local vintage boutique is on her list: Mee & Gee on Li Yuen Street East. 'I found a Karl Largefeld jacket there for just HK$20,' she says. 'I really don't mind going to old and shady places. 'These are the places where you can find the good stuff. I enjoy the process. It's like going out on a treasure hunt for me.' Lace is a big theme in Lam's wardrobe. It's something that's closely tied to her vintage obsession. A piece of a vintage lace bib adorns the wall in her bedroom. Her boyfriend bought it from a flea market in Paris. 'It's so delicate. I had to frame it,' she says. Tam also has a lot of hats, mostly bought during her time in the US. 'These hats are so 1940s and 1950s. I especially love the ones with lace veils. They are so mysterious,' she says. 'I put one on and imagine I'm starring in a Hitchcock film. I'm never going to sell them.'