I’ve recently written about Positive Outlook, a conscious clothing company based with a store in Coventry (and also available online!). While researching this piece, I became more aware of the flourishing vintage scene in Warwickshire and the West Midlands. Obviously I’d have been surprised if one of the huge trends of the last decade or so wasn’t evident around here.
Still it’s been fun to discover local sources for gorgeous second-hand goods!
I was able to delve further into this new-to-me world when at Coventry’s brilliant Godiva Festival this weekend. FarGo Village, the city’s home for independent creative businesses (including Positive Outlook), hosted a vintage marquee and I had a good rummage while chatting to various stallholders.
Before I introduce them, I want to say a huge thanks to my partner Mark for patiently holding my Pepsi during the time I was in the tent. The bars were refusing to give out lids and it’s hard to browse racks, rails and table tops with an open bottle of pop in one hand! He’s waited outside a lot of shops and stalls as I’ve conducted important research 🙂
So if you’re committed to conscious clothing, here are some great central England sellers.
A Little Bit of Vintage
Birmingham based Kathryn’s stall stocked some real gems. With the label ‘vintage’ too often used to describe clothes that are simply used, it was refreshing to see racks filled with genuine old school items. I was particularly taken with a colourful patterned housecoat and a red and white dress comprised of a peplum top and pencil skirt, complete with original red patent belt.
Kathryn also had a range of compacts, fans, purses and bags, all at great prices. She’s on Facebook if you want to find out more.
I wish I’d bought: one of the lovely little bags, but I couldn’t choose between the woven one and beaded one (okay, I could have bought both but this was only supposed to be a research trip!).
If you’re looking to create a distinctive look then check out Martha’s Bazaar. There was so much buzz around the stall’s vintage Asian clothing that I struggled to get a look in but even from a distance you could see the beauty and quality. The dresses, separates, scarves and shawls come in opulent colours with rich embroidery and embellishment. Anyone who’s ever harboured a Princess Jasmine fantasy (and who hasn’t?!) needs to check them out.
I wish I’d bought: several sets of the always stylish jewelled bangles to stack up both wrists.
There aren’t many vintage stalls that capture the attention of tween boys but that’s what Cindy managed to do with her display of unusual pocket watches! Her section of the tent was like an Aladdin’s cave, full of quirky jewellery and clothing from the 1940s to 80s. I was reminded how the high street hasn’t always been synonymous with throwaway fashion when I stumbled across an old Dorothy Perkins top, complete with a ‘Made in Britain’ label. Hard to imagine.
Cindy offers vintage parties – what a great idea is that? Find her on Twitter for more info.
I wish I’d bought: the patchwork suede purse – a fashionable twist on the Roy Cropper shopper.
Fab Fill a Bag by Heaven Vintage
The concept is simple and familiar at vintage fayres up and down the land: get a bag, fill it up and pay £10 for all the contents. If it’s an eighties or nineties aesthetic that you’re after then this is the place to stock up! There were tons of classic sportswear and casual options. Jean jackets and cut-offs seemed especially popular with punters, which is always good to see given the environmental impact of producing new denim.
I wish I’d bought: an old school wax jacket. It was too hot to even think about trying them on!
Mrs Flower’s Fabulous Card Company
Not vintage clothing, but I had to give a shout out to Alison and her amazing wares! Alison has a passion for old cards, be they greetings, cigarette or the playing variety, and upcycles these ephemeral items into unique nostalgic artworks. I ran out of superlatives, not only to describe the beautiful old designs but her skill in giving them a fresh look. There were people buying gifts for Christmas already!
As well as cards, Mrs Flower’s stall housed a selection of small vintage accessories and homeware. Her website is here.
I wish I’d bought: given Adam West’s recent death, the Batman cards really pulled on my heart strings. Kerpow!
Do you have any ‘I wish I’d bought’ vintage moments? Or have you splashed out on something that seemed frivolous only to find that you wear it all the time? I’d love to hear your vintage tales; you can comment here or on social media (links below).
Thank you for reading!