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Mod’s Top Tips for Buying FABULOUS Vintage!

14 Jun

Nowadays there are so many vintage stores, warehouses, markets and fairs that it is hard to distinguish the good from the bad! Well fear not, as I am here to help.

I have been shopping for vintage clothing and accessories since I was about 14 (11 years), plus, by researching, studying and writing about it (not far off from living and breathing the stuff) I am able to spot the good from the bad in the blink of an eye.

I understand though, that not everyone finds it so easy, so let me give you some basic tips to help you out when you’re next at a vintage fair or in a store trying to work out your Balenciaga from your BHS!

1. MIX AND MATCH

Vintage is all about individuality and uniqueness. Use your imagination and try not to think about it TOO much. With so many trends flying around it’s a great idea to mix eras together as well as incorporating vintage into your modern wardrobe. It’s easiest to start with a vintage bag, shoes or perhaps some jewellery and go from there!

2. SIZING

Don’t be put off if you find something you love but it’s not the right size for you. As decades have passed body shapes have changed, so the chance of finding the perfect fit from something you adore is rare. What I often do is buy something that is a little too big, then alter it (or go to a professional tailor if you don’t sew) to fit me perfectly.
Think of this as an investment. Vintage is usually timeless and classic, and great quality, so once that garment fits you perfectly, it will last forever, instead of high street clothes which look out-dated very quickly.
You could also customise a garment with a belt!

3. BARGAINS

Don’t be afraid to haggle. vintage sellers are used to this and usually love a bit of banter! From my experience of selling vintage myself, it is an equation of how much that garment is worth as a ball-park amount, plus ensuring that gorgeous garment is going to a good home where someone will love it forever!

4. TAKE NOTE OF HIGH STREET TRENDS

Catwalk and high street trends are more often than not inspired by past eras of fashion. Make sure you know what is hot this season and source that must-have buy from a vintage collection instead. You will still be ticking all the right trend boxes whilst knowing you won’t end up the same thing as your best mate!

5. KNOW YOUR STUFF

Try doing a spot of research before you set out on your vintage adventure. Find out about popular designers and decades. That way you will know when you have found a real gem and investment piece. you never know, you may even find a piece by Ossie Clark, Mary Quant or Biba if you keep your eyes peeled!

As I am currently in the process of setting up my own business dealing with vintage fashion, I am constantly adding to my collection of beautiful garments from all eras.
If you would like any more information, to arrange an appointment to see the collection, or to talk further about vintage please contact me. I would love to hear from you.

Another Vintage Fair

13 Jun

If one vintage fair in one weekend wasn’t enough, I am now holding a stall at the Pavilions Vintage Fair on Sunday 26th June.

This fair will be a lot different to the one at Stan’s cafe as it is on a much larger scale, with a £15k marketing budget.

I can imagine they will attract a different type of clientele, due to the size and location, so it will also be an educational experience, understanding people’s responses to my collection, price point and how my garments compare to other stall holders!

This will be a great way of establishing a client base when I set up something more permanant.
What it will be though, you have have to wait and see!

Meanwhile…

11 Jun

I’ve been thinking a lot more about my own business idea since meeting so many vintage retailers that are so passionate about what they do for a living.

one concept that intrigues me is that of Harry Smiles, as they are part of the Meanwhile Space programme.

Meanwhile Space are a Community Interest Company that started in July 2009. They combine knowledge and experience to:

  • Make the concept of meanwhile more mainstream
  • Support people to access space that is less exclusive
  • Advise the public and private sector to initiate schemes
  • Directly deliver space animation projects

“‘Meanwhile use’ is the temporary use of vacant buildings or land for a socially beneficial purpose until such a time that they can be brought back into commercial use again. It makes practical use of the ‘pauses’ in property processes, giving the space over to uses that can contribute to quality of life and better places whilst the search for a commercial use is ongoing.”

If this could take off in Birmingham it could be a great idea to begin with a pop-up shop, supported by Meanwhile to establish my brand and company and develop a healthy client base.

This way there is no risk of being tied down to a contract before finding out if it is a viable business idea or not.

From observing other business it is evident you can do all the market research in the world to ensure your idea is desirable but it’s a completely different thing when you’re up and running!

This would be a great way to test the water with minimum commitment though!

A/W 12-13 Trends

9 Jun


I’ve just come out of the Mudpie trend seminar for A/W 12-13 which was held at London College of Fashion.

The information and experience gained from an event like this is invaluable.

The theme for the season is called Nations Rising. It is taking into account the world economy with a particular nod to the Far East.

The season is then broken up into three sub-categories which make up the different trends for the season…

REMIX: Is influenced by ethnic diversity with particular reference to Brazil, as this is the most ethically diverse country in the world. Acknowledgements were also made to the Rio Olympics for 2016.

Remix also has some strong African influences and an emphasis on eco-materials.


The women’s colour pallette is very earthy, rich and exotic, and prints are tribal inspired.
Layering,volume, mixed prints and textures are big for this trend.

SYNTHESISE: This trend has a much more sythetic, engineered, structured and futuristic look. For me, it made particular references to 1960s trends as technology, innovation and the future were huge influences. Korean pop culture is another source of inspiration with a vivid colour pallette of zingy, sweet colours mixed with metallics to create a digital vision.

Prints are inpired by £D imagery and fragmented light. Key shapes are sleek, panelled and utilitarian (influenced by the idea of protective clothing).

MYRIAD: Combines luxury with sustainability with the use of sumptuous, flowing, naural yarns such as silk. Art and culture are strong influences for Myriad, as well as Abu Dhabi becoming a luxurious place but also an eco-city where the elements are used to power it.

Colours are subdued and rich, with an emphasis on classic hues such as camel and gold. Prints have a Persian influence and ornated embellishment feaures heavily in a mixed media style.

Shapes are fluid, sophisticated and refined with draping and waterfall effects.

Although I am consdering entering the vintage clothingmarket trends are still very important. Current and future trends and designers are always influenced by the past so styles continue to be recycled. It is important to keep an eye on trends to understand what shapes, colours and eras will be desirable for the future so I can choose stock that people will want to buy!

Graduate Fashion Week is Here!

6 Jun

Today I’m at Graduate Fashion Week with some classmates, on the Birmingham City University stand ready to meet potential employers and anyone else who even looks like they MIGHT be interested in my work!

Our stand comprised of chicken coops as the theme was ‘Incubation’, as if our time at uni had been our time of incubation and now we have “hatched” into graduates?…

Our work was nicely presented on top of the chicken coops…

fashion retail management

Chicken Coop!

My dissertation

My Final Presentation


Within minutes of being here I was in front of three judges as my work had been entered into the ‘New Business Idea Award’ category. They aksed me a set of questions about my work such as, what gave me the idea for Covet, why I think it is a viable business idea for today’s consumer, why I think vintage is so popular…

I believe I gave confident and informed answers which demonstrated my expertise and research from the project.

As the afternoon has passed a few people have already looked through my work and taken my business cards, including a very dapper looking an who, when I approached him, told me he is looking for business minded people from graduate level to bring in the marketing department of his new company which works with new designers. this sounded very excited so I proceeded to talk him through the marketing strategy I had developed for Covet and explained how I had tailored it so it was specific to my product and target consumer.

I’ve just had a walk around the rest of the show, here are some pictures of the stands, unis and projects that caught my eye…

Demontford

Bournemouth

Milan

Business cards hanging from flowers!

Excuse me? Have you got the time?!

As I just sat outside, getting some fresh air and reflecting on the  day so far a lady approched me asking to take my photograph for a street style blog. Her explanation was a bit vague but she took town my name and where my outfit was from and took a couple of shots.

I’ll let you know if my picture makes it online!

Sourcing the Collection…

5 Jun

As I discovered through my dissertation research, there are a great number of ways and places to source desirable vintage clothing.

It needs to be cheap enough to then be marked up to a, still, reasonable price that is affordable for my target market.

I am sourcing a number of higher-end pieces from private sellers in America, plus I will be visiting a vintage wholesaler in the UK next week.

Wholesalers usually make you buy in bulk and there is a minimum spend, but I’ve managed to find one who is based on quality rather than quantity, so I’m keen to check it out!

I already have a small collection which I am currently valuing and pricing up. It is partly things I have collected and worn myself over a number of years, as well as things I have sourced from markets and charity shops, although, finding a vintage piece in a charity shop nowadays is a rare treat!

I can’t wait to see what I will end up buying and starting my business with.

Mod on Cosmo!

3 Jun

A couple of days ago, whilst at uni’, I noticed a pile of free magazines. As i’m always on the look out for something new to write about I picked it up without thinking twice.

Cosmo on Campus is produced by Cosmopolitan but a lot smaller and with content aimed specifically to students.

It features such things on ‘Fashion on a Shoestring, saving money, internships and how to deal with stress.

What caught my eye first (partly because it was on one of the first pages) was a short ad entitled ‘Cosmo on Campus Needs Your talent Now’.

Cosmo on Campus features content written by readers in every issue and are looking for people who have interesting stores, hobbies and a flair for writing.

As I am considering starting my own business with vintage fashion I thought it would be a good idea to try to get my name out there as somewhat of an expert so I have just emailed them telling them about my dissertation, passion for vintage fashion and goals to set up my own business.

I also told them how I’d written a few articles for our own student magazine ‘Spaghetti Junction’, one in particular being about fashion…

Everyone keep everything crossed for them to get back to me!

I’ll keep you posted.

Funding…

29 May

Although I plan to get my business idea off the ground on a small scale by attending vintage fairs and visiting people at home with my collection I need to consider the future and what will be the most profitable business.

I am aiming to start working on a thorough business plan in the next few weeks, using the skills and experience I gained through writing my dissertation business plan.

With this I will be able to apply for funding. To do this I will need to convince a bank or investor that I have a viable business idea.

I have been looking into funding already and there are many different types that will obviously have different outcomes.

I have already researched The Prince’s Trust, Birmingham City Council, and business loans, as well as an article I read in the Birmingham Post about Deloitte backing a funding scheme for local independent businesses.

There is also plenty of mentoring and guidance which will be very helpful.

One article in the June issue of Marie Claire was all about applying for mentors who run successful businesses, such as the make-up brand Ruby and Millie,  feel I am making good progress with my business ideas, I just need to start making things happen!

Furthering My Knowledge

27 May

So, even though I’m thinking of setting up my own vintage fashion business, it can’t hurt to gain some more experience.

I was juts looking at the Beyond Retro website and they are currently looking for an intern to work in their product department. So guess who is about to send her CV and cover letter?

That’s right! ME!

Here’s the job description…

This would give me a great insight into sourcing and valuing vintage clothing as well as how to spot what will be desirable and on trend in the vintage world!

I believe the knowledge I gained from my dissertation project, as well as the years of passion and interest in vintage clothing would make a great contribution to the internship already.

If anything, every internship I have done so far has increased my knowledge of the fashion industry and improved my confidence with working with new people and facing new challenges.

In the past I have completed a three-month internship at Fluorescent PR in Soho, London, one month in the fashion department at Good Housekeeping Magazine and 1 week at Kerry Taylor Auctions.

Hopefully my past experience and existing skills will catch their attention and clinch me the internship!

Wish me luck!

Entrepreneurial Spirit…

25 May

I’ve just got home from a fantastic new event held at Urban Coffee Company on Church Street in Birmingham.

The Birmingham Entrepreneur Meetup group is held on a monthly basis and allows you to network with local entrepreneurs, and other people who want to start their own business, over a friendly cup of coffee.

As I am currently looking into starting my own business I thought this was the perfect opportunity to get some advice, talk to people who have been in my situation and pick up some useful contacts! It’s also a chance for me to hand out some of my brand new business cards!!

The group was small and a broad mix of people to say the least.

I spoke to a number of people there, which helped me realise that I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t currently running a business, which put me at ease!I quickly got chatting to Rickie, who incidentally is the organiser of the group. I realised I was definitely chatting with the right person as Rickie told me about an exciting new vintage fair she is organising in Birmingham!

‘Birmingham Vintage’ is a vintage fair with a difference, as the nostalgic mood will be elevated with a 1970s theme throughout with live music, refreshments and a great mixture of stalls including homeware, clothing, art, crafts and hair and makeup sessions.

The fair is being held on Saturday 25th June at Stan’s Cafe in the creative hub which is the Jewellery Quarter.

It was lovely to meet Rickie and talk about vintage in a more business sense. I am definitely going to hold a stall at the fair and start spreading the word about my business and myself (so come down and see me).

Better get some stock!!

All in all the meetup was a great night and a fab idea, I’ll be back for the next one! Plus, the artists at Urban Coffee made my cappuccino look like a bear!

Professional Me!

23 May

My business cards came in the post today!

I designed them myself and added a spot of colour to make them noticeable and attractive!

Front

Back

Matching nail polish!

I can use them at Graduate Fashion Week and the BIAD show, and I’ll be keeping some in my purse incase I ever run into Vivienne Westwood (as I so often do!)

I am actually going to an ‘entrepreneur meetup’ in a couple of days; where local business owners and people wanting to start up their own business can meet up to talk shop. So I am hoping these will be very useful!

Would My Business be a ‘Super Business’?

20 May

This morning I started reading ‘Super Business’ by Fraser Doherty, the young boy who started the business Super Jam.

I first saw this book at the airport when I was going to Barcelona and had a quick flick through before boarding! the only reason I picked it up is because I’ve had that jam a number of times.

However, I quickly realised the book is not only about Fraser’s business, but also how he transformed a hobby into the brand we see in the supermarket.

“Nothing in my life has compared to the sense of achievement that I felt when I first saw my products on the supermarket shelf.”

He explains how he did it and offers very encouraging business advice for everyone thinking of setting up their own business. The tips, ideas and advice can be applied to any business idea and I can definitely relate to much of the content from writing Covet’s business plan for my dissertation.

It is mainly an inspiration, reading about someone so young and what they went through to do what they are passionate about.

“It’s a lot easier to follow your passion when you’re young.”

“Evolve your hobby into a career, so you can make a living from something you love”

I am definitely in the frame of mind to want to set up my own business, or give it a really good go at least!

“Great ideas solve some kind of problem that lots of people relate to.”

Have I got a great idea? Well I think so, so it’s up to me to find out for sure. Now my time at university is drawing to a close I feel I have more time to focus my energies on creating a ‘great idea’ and putting it into action.

I’m Now ‘Linked In’

17 May

As part of my new-found business enthusiasm I just joined Linked In (the business version of Facebook if you will).

It is a great way of connecting with your existing industry contacts as well as networking and building new professional relationships.

You can see a person’s employment and education history as part of their profile, so it’s a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate my achievements, skills and strengths.

I have expanded on relevant internships, previous employment and university modules in order to showcase these attributes…

 

You can see my full profile here, feel free to add me to your network!

I’m in Heaven!

16 May

After leaving Wilde (vintage sunglasses) Cao directed us to Reira Baixa, a street literally two minutes walk from his own shop. He said we would find many vintage shops there! And boy did we! This was definitely the vintage destination we had hoped for!

To me it completely makes sense for vintage retailers to group together. From my research for my dissertation I gathered that the attitude of many shopkeepers is that they are not competitive with other stores as they are all selling something completely different and special, but they attract a similar clientele.

My favourite store on Reira Baixa was ‘Lullaby Vintage’– a cute, narrow vintage boutique run by a lovely married couple.



Lullaby has a very distinct retro, mod atmosphere, although it offers clothing and accessories for women, men and kids from the 1950s-1980s.

After talking to Cao at Wilde and being instilled with passion for opening my own store, I was on a role. As soon as the shopkeeper greeted me I started chatting to him.

I cannot express how much I love talking to people who are passionate about vintage! He was asking where I’m from and commented on my 1960s shift dress. He laughed when we told him we were actually about to catch our plane and were lugging our suitcase round with us in the name of vintage shopping!

I told him how much I love vintage but there isn’t a great deal in Birmingham and I order most of my clothes off etsy.com.
He also had a mod look about him and we both agreed the 1960s was the best era!

Lullaby Vintage has been open just over two years but the owners have been collecting vintage clothing for a great number of years.
What is great to see is when each piece is authentic vintage, which it definitely was at Lullaby!

Stock is broken up into eras, which is great for customers who are unsure about vintage and what is from which decade!

Accessories and other trinkets are dotted around the store, making it a fascinating treasure trove to look round and discover things!

After a long, polite chat with the man we left to carry on our homage down Reira Baixa, at which point my boyfriend turned to me and said…

“This is amazing! Doesn’t this inspire you to open your own vintage shop?!”

I could not have agreed more!

Did you really expect me NOT to buy anything?!

Going Wilde!

16 May

Well its our final day in Barcelona and we’ve managed to fit in a vintage shopping trip before getting on the plane.

Currently we are sat in a quaint cafe in the Raval area of Barcelona, sipping on freshly squeezed orange juice after visiting a number of cool and quirky stores, including Wilde.

A new generation vintage shop where we were attended to by the owner Cao, who told me that everything started with his passion to collect Vintage Sunglasses.

For several years he was collecting models in different auctions, flea markets, private collections and a variety of secret sources all over the world.

Some pieces in the collection ares unsold stock from Paris, London and United States and everything is hand-picked and in mint condition, dating from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s.

He treats every single item they choose as the treasure it really is because he believes there is nothing better than Vintage stuff!

Cao’s passion has lead to his latest project; the launch of his own line of sunglasses ”  The Black Oscar Sunglasses”.

It’s so inspiring meeting someone with true passion and expertise for what they do everyday!

Thank you Cao!

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