A Keepers Guide to Buying Vintage
It is often said that buying vintage/secondhand is a very sustainable way to dress, but at the best of times it can prove difficult to source exactly what you're looking for. Am I right? Sometimes finding that one special piece is akin to a needle-in-a-haystack and you end up fatigued and hangry (hungry + angry) at the end of a fruitless hunt. Fear not, as seasoned professionals, we have you covered with some foolproof tips and sources for fine pre-loved threads...
Beautiful vintage pieces Retold for modern and contemporary fashion lovers. Each item is handpicked and curated by owner Clare Lewis. Retold Vintage supports the slow fashion movement; buy less new, choose well and help the fashion industry work towards a more sustainable future. Her successful online business thrives off a growing social media following amid other sites like Depop, though Retold feels very professional. Lewis also collaborates with pop-up rails in existing stores for a more personal approach.
Pop was conceived in 1983 by Richard Free selling vintage clothing gathered from flea markets and church sales at London’s Camden and Greenwich markets, travelling each weekend from the north of England in his "ancient van". For Free, vintage is a way of life and encapsulates a passion for fashion, music, movies and furniture all imbued with glorious nostalgia.
Today Pop have shops in Liverpool, London, Leeds, Manchester and Gothenburg in Sweden and also have over 150 clients stocking their own label goods (un/recycled) and vintage based, all around the world.
Frock Me! Vintage Fashion Fair
Frock Me vintage fair was established in the late 1990's. It's the original London vintage fair and is held at Chelsea Old Town Hall. It was started by Matthew Adams, who has been running antiques fairs and markets in London for 38 years and continues to run the popular 'Horti fair'. Matthew studied Theatre & Costume Design at Central School of Art & Design in the 1970s and became an antiques and vintage dealer around 1980. He started London's first vintage fair coupled with a decorative arts event at Kensington Town Hall in 1997.
The current exhibitors come from across the UK and some come from France (Paris and Bordeaux) and at the moment we have over 60 exhibitors at each event.
The first Beyond Retro store was opened in a disused dairy on Cheshire Street in East London in 2002.
Beyond Retro stores sell vintage clothing from every era of the 20th century. All of the product found in any Beyond Retro store started as a donation to a charity. The sale of these donations to recycling companies generates revenue for charities throughout the Western world. Beyond Retro buys all of its clothing from charities directly, or indirectly through recycling companies.
Standing in a prime location at the bagel end of Brick Lane, Hunky Dory is a well-presented, well-stocked, intimate little shop. That means it can feel crowded, but everything is arranged by colour and garment, so it’s easy to work your way around when you’re looking for a particular style.
Best of the Charity Shops: Mary's Living and Giving
In 2009, retail maven Mary Portas and her team at Portas Agency set up the unique Mary's Living & Giving Shops with Save The Children. Filled with designer donations these charity boutiques are a fantastic place to both shop and volunteer, playing host to a well curated selection in every location (these include Islington, Hampstead, Wimbledon, Richmond and Portobello Road).
Bonus: Eesome Homewares
'Eesome' is an obsolete English word meaning 'Pleasant on the eye'.
An online shop offering carefully selected and curated homewares for the modern home and conscious consumer. Specialising in vintage ceramics and studio pottery from all over Europe, Eesome offer a unique selection with a strong focus on form and function. They intend to prolong the life of each item that passes through, offering them to a new generation of consumers who care about design, quality and longevity over convenience and trends.
A few tips for embarking on a vintage/secondhand haul:
- Take your reusable bags and water bottle. A snack couldn't hurt. You'll give up and go home much quicker without some sustenance when you're all a flurry in the changing rooms.
- Know where you're going and be prepared to hunt. There still will be a lot of stuff you'll have to sift through to find some gems even in the best locations, so make a mental or written map and don't stray from your mission.
- Have an idea of what you want and have a budget. It's always a good idea to go in with a framework... we're looking at you acid-wash flares.
- Always try on, sizing can be tricky especially with vintage. Examine before you buy, often these things aren't returnable and the moths might have gotten to it before you did. Unless you're confident you can remove that stain or patch that elbow, leave it behind.
*Header artwork: Model: Elaine Irwin | Photography by Francois Halard | Vogue Magazine US March 1992 – via