Modern fascination with the goods of yesteryear

Vintage Fair at the Town Hall: Emma Dobbin enjoys a cake from Hello Sweetness
Vintage Fair at the Town Hall: Emma Dobbin enjoys a cake from Hello Sweetness

READERS of a certain age will remember the queues to get into Silverdale School jumble sale, and their personal checklists of which second-hand shops had the right kinds of tie.

Pre-owned personal shopping is now very different. On Saturday, after keeping up with latest meteorological advice via Facebook, over 1,000 contemporary second-hand fashion enthusiasts queued up the Town Hall steps to take their turn for the first Sheffield Vintage Fair of 2013.

“The word ‘vintage’ is second-hand, rebranded. But in a good way,” said Chrissie Grant, of Granny’s Wardrobe vintage jewellery. “I think there was a stigma attached to second-hand, the word was not associated with stylish fashion. But vintage appeals to people across the age range.”

The Town Hall shoppers included mothers and fathers with stylish toddlers, students, teenagers, and plenty of people whose own youthful High Street purchases have now made it to the vintage racks.

“I’ve been a hoarder for years,” said Amanda Pacey, “and now I feel good when people buy my stuff because I know it’s going to a good home.”

There were 40 vintage stallholders at the fair, along with a ‘pop up’ vintage hairdressers and a ‘tea party’ with home made cakes and beverages in china cups.

Loulou Glover is in the forefront of Shefield’s vintage industry: her Vintage Fairs have been growing since their launch in 2008 and now take place all over the UK. “We’re now looking at the USA, with possibilities in Los Angeles and New York this year.”

The rise of Vintage has many causes, she said, but in recent times she believes the economy is a key factor. “You can come here and buy something unique and individual at less cost. I can buy more clothes that I like here than I can on the High Street.”

Her colleague Sarah Hudson added that there is a reaction to High Street shopping. “Shopping on the High Street tends to make everyone look the same, and now I think it’s more acceptable for people to look different. People are also more aware of where the clothes from cheap shops on the High Street came from and how they were made.”

“You can buy something from here and it might have had 60 or 70 years of wear and still be in good condition, whereas if I buy something from some High Street shops and I’d be lucky to get a month out of it,” said Loulou.

Wayne Lynam-Stocks has been selling as Mooch Vintage for 18 months. He and partner Mark Lynam work full-time during the day (as sales manager and civil engineer) then come home and put three or four hours into their development website and online shop. Then every weekend they’re off to visit fairs around the country.

“To make it work you need as much time and effort as you can put in,” said Wayne. “But I’d say you definitely don’t need a physical shop”.

Which is the key difference to second hand shopping of yore: you can now vintage shop from the comfort of your 1950’s (40s, 70s, etc) styled living room.

There’s also a green element to second hand nowadays, said traders.

“There’s that longevity with vintage,” said Cassie Grant. “On the High Street they’re constantly regurgitating the 1960s or 1970s or whatever, but I’d say why not use what’s already there?” said Amanda Pacey.

The UK vintage economy is growing, possibly because of the High Street recession. Wayne Lynam-Stocks sources wares from all over the world, but finds demand is much higher in the UK than in Europe.

Loulou Glover now has 2,500 sellers on her mailing list (up from 50 when she started five years ago).

There are more sellers, so prices are coming down, but there are also more buyers, said traders.

Celebrity vintage wearing has helped, said Loulou, along with the chain stores jumping on the bandwagon themselves. “Also I can’t help thinking, is there anything left to design? Has everything already been done?”

Current trends are hard to pick out, she and colleague Sarah Hudson noted. Seventies dresses are popular, as are denim shorts, and well-made cardies and woolies.

Sixteen-year-old Shenai Burrell put her finger on the issues.

“It’s so much nicer than you see in the shops,” she said. “The prices are better, and you know they’ll last longer.”

There’s nothing wrong in looking like a grandma, she said.

“Two years ago, boys would never wear cardigans,” she added.

The next Vintage Fair at the Town Hall on March 2 will be raising money for St Luke’s Hospice in memory of Loulou’s grandfather, Roger Callum.