I had a very difficult time trying to decide whether it was possible to be at Vintage 2011, the current blaze of vintage glory over South Bank. It’s a three-day vintage extravaganza, the market area alone bringing together the great and the good from UK vintage sellers, headed up by the big and busty retailers, Benefit (swoon) and Cath Kidston. Sat on the river Thames, overlooked by the London Eye, it’s Wayne Hemmingway’s piece of Goodwood in London. What’s not to love? The market area of the festival is free and open to the public. There are an amazing range of events going on inside too, if you have a ticket.
Being unable to set up stall myself, for various reasons – small things like time, money and other commitments – I was in the happy position of having to visit for market research reasons…well that’s my story anyway. What a terrible time – walking around an enormous and exciting array of vintage goods, chatting with stall holders and talking to them about my flowers. Can you imagine?
I fell in love with so many and various things. I purposefully didn’t fill my purse up before I left, because I knew the dangers. Given half a chance my hands will spring up on a lovely item – a satchel, a dress, a ridiculous hat – and hand over the dosh for it before my brain has had a chance to blink.
And what a lot of lovely items they were. Word on the stall-holders’ lips was that the punters today were the hardcore and committed – those who want to grab those bargains with the honed skills of years of experience, before the weekend dawdlers and part-time vintage wearers arrive.
Never one to avoid a good excuse for dressing up, as well as the purpose of advertising, I wore one of my paper rose fascinators and carried a bouquet of paper roses too. I took a photo of myself on a bit of South Bank street furniture for you to see. Do you like my awkward photo face? Nice. One of the traders suggested I should have had a basket full of roses to walk around and sell – a reimagining of ‘Who Will Buy’, which unfortunately I don’t have the voice for.
The idea was to pop along to the vintage market and have a look, and speak to a few people if possible. And so I did. A plan that worked – hurrah. I spoke to so many lovely stall holders and vintage market customers about my roses. The lovely ladies at Cath Kidston got very excited about them. I loved speaking to Bobbin and Bow, and admiring her handmade vintage lace jewellery, Butterflies and Hurricanes and Joan Pressley Hats. I loved jewellery by Frilly by Lily, and if I’d had a bit more money on me, then I would have one of her necklaces around my neck right now, that or one from Abilu creations. June Nevin doesn’t have a website that I can see, but she definitely has my favourite business card – mocked up as an old identity card with an old school photo. Others had used lovely images on their business cards too – Bobbin and Bow uses old photos of her mother and grandmother. Really touching.
The products I really fell in love with, were earrings, cufflinks and other jewellery made from old typewriter keys. Really simple and beautiful. They also make similar items with old pencils. Have a look here.
I was really impressed by the value of things at the market; I assumed that the priciest stock would be out and it would be precious one -off evening dresses all the way. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The market feels like a market; you can get something for £1 or £2, you can rifle through bargain suitcases and spend a fiver on a vintage scarf. If you have the funds, there are some glorious one-off pieces, furniture and tea sets too.
In the end, I did part with a small amount of money for a pretty art deco plate from Vicky Loves Vintage.
It’s funny. Since ploughing my money into this venture, and not wanting to chuck it about willy nilly on throw away clothes, by attitude towards buying has become rather bizarre. I cannot justify a new piece of clothing or a new pair of shoes to myself, but instead have started spending a few pounds a week on something utterly useless. Last week, at Hoxton Hall, my money went on a green teapot and a massive vintage radio. The radio is the definition of utterly useless – not just because of the upcoming digital switchover, nor just because it doesn’t even have FM, but because it doesn’t even have a plug. So there we have it – a lovely time at Vintage 2011 – recommended – and this week’s useless buy.