Contrary to the early ‘90s where vintage had lost its allure, it seems that everyone wants to do vintage nowadays! Celebrities are partly responsible for influencing the trend, with their desire to be photographed in something that is rare and unique, rather than collections from today’s contemporary designers. Julia Robert’s black and white vintage Valentino at the Oscar awards was influential in part for kick-starting the trend.
The second group of people responsible for sending vintage prices through the roof are the insiders from the fashion industry themselves. Vintage plays a major part in driving runway trends, so designers and heads of department of fashion houses can all be found desperately rifling through rails for some hidden treasure, an inspirational piece for that award-winning new collection. In her book Fashion Babylon, Imogen Edwards-Jones, reveals these are most common visitors to vintage trade fairs and retail outlets, not to mention the stylists and celebrities themselves, all searching for a red-carpet look.
Who Buys Vintage
What all this means for the everyday woman is that there are few pickings left once eagle-eyed members of the fashion industry have had their way. It is important to know what to look for and where to look. The profile of the vintage shopper has now changed almost beyond recognition. Rather than the majority of customers being members of the public, fashion students and collectors, expect to find models, celebrities, boutique owners, costume designers and fashion house employees and personal stylists.
Where to Find the Best Vintage Buys
There will always be the local second-hand store, the charity shop, the garage sale and the car boot sale where it is possible to pick up the occasional bargain. However if you are really serious about vintage clothing then you may wish to consider some of the specialist retail outlets and trade and public fashion fairs and exhibitions, frequented by those-in-the-know.
A large proportion of these are in the UK, mainly in London, where regular vintage trade fairs are held every 5 to 6 weeks or so. and attract fashionistas from all over the world. If you happened to live in the UK or a planning a trip sometime soon, then make a note of these venues in your diary.
London Vintage Fashion Textiles and Accessories Fair
Frequented by famous (and not so famous) designers, and those behind the scenes in the fashion industry, as far afield as New York, Paris and Milan. This popular event takes place 9 times a year at the Hammersmith Town Hall and is also a favorite haunt of celebrities. One stallholder, according to Karen Wheeler’s Daily Mail article, “Antique Gold: The Insider’s Guide to Vintage Chic on the Cheap,”of June 1st, 2008, referred to the fair as being “like a fashion family outing…. Everyone comes, all the designers, all the design studios.”
Held on a Sunday, it costs £5.00 to get in, and has around 100 antique clothing and accessory dealers from all over the UK. For more information on forthcoming dates and a location map, visit their website. The next vintage fashion fairs are planned for June 15th and 6th July 2008. Get their early to bag a bargain!
The London Antique Textiles, Vintage Costumes, Tribal Art & Antiques Fair
Part of the same group, for even more specialist vintage, in antique textiles and costumes and tribal art then this is the place for costumiers and collectors to frequent. Held at Olympia Hilton Hotel in Kensington, check the website for details of forthcoming dates and events.
Frock Me! – Chelsea Town Hall, London
Billing itself as “the world’s favorite vintage fashion event, Frock Me, at the Chelsea Town Hall is held once every 2 months. Many fashionistas eagerly await this event and travel from all over the world for a chance to buy some really great one-off pieces and rub shoulders with those in the fashion industry and movie costumiers. There is even a vintage tea room to transport you back in time. Visit the website for more details. Current dates for 2008 events are June 8th, September 7th, October 26th and December 14th,2008.
There are now additional Frock Me Fairs, held in Brighton, at the Sallis Benney Theater, University of Brighton. Dates for this year are June 22nd, October 5th and November 23rd, 2008.
Anita’s Vintage Fashion Fair – Battersea
Anita’s Vintage Fashion Fair at London’s Battersea Arts Center, Lavender Hill, London, features vintage clothing, textiles and accessories from the 1800’s to the 1970’s. Here you’ll find around 60stalls, and a vintage café, a place to take the weigh off your feet and carrying those heavy shopping bags! For more information on dates and location, go to the website, Vintagefashionfairs.com. According to the site “the aim of Anita’s Vintage Fashion Fair is to establish Battersea itself as London’s No.1 Vintage Fashion Event through providing the same comfort, quality, value and atmosphere to stallholders and visitors alike.”
There also smaller, exclusive fairs held in Notting Hill at the 20th Century Theater, Westbourne Grove, with capacity for around 250 visitors. More information is on the site.
Kerry Taylor Auctions – Sotheby’s, London
Kerry Taylor Auctions, with pre-viewing catalogues are held periodically at Sotherby’s, London or in the company studio. Kerry Taylor specializes in rare antique garments through to street style, from big names like Emillio Pucci, Vivenne Westwood, Chanel and Dior. The auctions include textiles and accessories as well as vintage fashion and an auction catalogue is available online orin print format, usually 1 month before the next auction. “A Passion for Fashion and Textiles,” the next event, is on June 10th, 2008 at Sotheby’s Olympia, Hammersmith Road, London.