Itchy, scratchy and most certainly not vintage

Outfit today, one of my current fave dresses, late 50s/ early 60s Blanes

Today I took a little trip to Leeds Met student union to sample the vintage fair they had on. I went with quite low expectations: lots of synthetic 80s horrors, levi cut offs and oversized jumpers. This fair was actually so bad it surpassed the previous worst vintage fair I have been to by miles. The fair was basically a glorified car boot with barely any actual vintage garments. It was worrying that I felt a genuine sense of excitement when I found a single 40s blouse on a stall. Bar one stall that had quite a reasonable number of decent pieces this was the ONLY pre 60s garment I found. ONE GARMENT.

The only slight saving grace was “Curious Cleo”, here there were still a lot of 80s garments but also quite a few 50s dresses and a few 40s too. There was a particularly nice blue check dress that if it had been my size I would have snapped up. I asked the stall holder about this and she said that in general the students wouldn’t buy the 50s stuff and that there wasn’t much of a market for it at the student union fairs.

Curious cleo website

I suppose I should really learn from my mistakes and simply stop going to the fairs at student unions rather than writing disparaging (and probably wholly unhelpful) blogposts about how awful the fairs were, but the point is I don’t understand why they are so bad. And more importantly why do sellers feel that they can palm off such utter crap on students?

So, what conclusion have I come to from this fair. I will absolutely NOT be going to one of The Vintage Fairs events again ( I was sorely tempted to send my Mum to the one in Winchester to check it out, but I don’t feel like I can subject her to the torture of it). I feel so rubbish after today that I think I am going to need to treat myself to a trip to Harrogate at the weekend to remember what proper vintage is!

11 thoughts on “Itchy, scratchy and most certainly not vintage

  1. There's nowt as disappointing as a pile of Eighties nasties! I'm going to have a look at the Winchester one in the Guildhall out of curiosity really. It could go one way or the other I feel!!Although it's been many years since I was a student, I do get really cross by what is being sold to them as vintage and for prices I'd be ashamed to ask.On a positive not, your dress is gorgeous…really suits you.x

  2. I feel that being Winchester it may be better, i know a few good vintage dealers in the area so i hope that a few of them may make an appearance! Please do let me know how it is, I am hoping to organise a vintage fair in Winchester next summer, so I am really interested to see how popular it is.Thanks for the comms on the dress. I also have it in black and white! It's pretty crazy having two vintage dresses the same : )xxx

  3. I guess students are less able to afford the older stuff, whereas 70s and 80s are still cheap for people who want to experiment with their clothes. I'd just skip the student fairs from now on! 🙂 x

  4. I think it is true that the students are less able to afford the older vintage stuff and on the most part this is not what they are looking for. They seem to be looking for replicas of what is on the high street (which at the moment is the cut off levi's and fair isle jumpers. The 80's jumpers we buy to sell on get snapped in no time. Whereas I have beautiful 40's and 50's dresses sitting on the rails for months on end. Unfortuanately when running a business we have to buy what sells and not what we love! And the students seem to love cut off levi's and fair isle jumpers! A lot of people have a desire to sell older types of vintage at the vintage fairs but from my experience it just doesn't sell in the same way. I think that as the older pieces are more expensive they are more considered purchases where as other pieces are cheaper "throwaway items". This does tend to differ around the country though and I don't know about other sellers but I select my items based on the location we are selling in on that day. I found that I sell a lot of older items in Norwich, Nottingham and Sheffield.Another thing about the student type vintage fairs is they get so busy and having more expensive items out to display is a risky business I've had more than one item damaged by people spilling drinks or mishandling things.I'd agree with what you said about skipping the student fairs as they are clearly not your thing, I don't think they are bad just aimed at a different market. The Discover Vintage fairs may be more up your street – (Owner of Curious Cleo)

  5. Becky,I really appreciate that you wrote this. Its very interesting to consider the places where the older vintage is sold. I think alot of my issues come from studying fashion design and going into the concept of "slow fashion". My lecturers used to go about how vintage was one of the ways to embrace slow fashion yet, with student trends in vintage it is infact doing the opposite. I suppose I simply feel that vintage clothing should be like vintage cars and wine, appreciated for its age and quality. I try not to be a vintage snob (really I do) but I suppose when it comes down to it I am! I do still wear 80s vintage now and again though, I'm not adverse to it by any stretch of the imagination (I love a good sequinned mini skirt any day of the week) I just wish people understood what they are buying I suppose.Thanks to everyone for their interesting comments on this,Lizxxx

  6. Hello, I was also trading at this fair and Becky from Curious Cleo told me about your blog. My company, Minimum Mouse, had some beautiful older items which you clearly didn't spot – I had at least 5 lovely 1950's dresses on my rail, a stunning 1940's petrol blue tea dress, lots of 1960's dresses and our menswear concentrates largely on lovely tailoring, much of which is from the 1960's or earlier. There were also a number of other stalls, such as The Magical Tree, who were next to Curious Cleo who had quite a few 1930's pieces, a good choice of 1940's and 50's and they don't even stock post 1970's stuff. So you perhaps weren't looking hard enough for pre-1960's stuff! I know for a fact it was there, just perhaps not in the quantities you would like. Becky is right to say that this clearly isn't the fair for you, you would be better off at something like Discover Vintage in York – not all vintage fairs are the same, not everyone shares your idea of what vintage should be. As a trader, I tailor the stock I take to suit the clientele and therefore (hopefully) earn a living! The vast majority of visitors to this fair loved our stock, though most of it was clearly your idea of hell – chunky knits, denim shorts etc. And to be honest, despite my best efforts, the older stuff really isn't selling so well at the moment at fairs, plus it is delicate and not suited to being carted around all over the country, so I tend to save it for selling online. I will always put a few pieces in for customers like you, and to show that we do know our stuff and our stock doesn't start and end with the trend led stuff, but you know what, they never sell! Many people admire them, no one takes them home. Frankly, I'm quite offended that you suggest we are trying to 'palm off' a selection of 'utter crap' on students. We offer good quality, fashionable items at reasonable prices. I think 'fast fashion' is only really a problem when it has an environmental and social impact, I would much prefer someone to buy an item from us which is recycled than go to somewhere like Primark instead and pick up an item which was probably made by a poorly paid, badly treated worker in the Far East and contributes to carbon emissions and environmental hazards. I love my student customers who want to follow the trends and have fun with fashion – they are friendly, nice to deal with and have genuine enthusiasm for what they buy, I would sooner deal with them than vintage snobs, who wish to impose their ideals on the rest of us, any day of the week.

  7. Well we can't please everyone but we do please tens of thousands of customers a season and have never heard complaints like this. The stock at our fairs does vary for each city and traders do target the audience they know is going to be at a fair in order to make maximum sales, i think you'd be very hasty to rule out all of our fairs based on one particularly aimed at students on a weekday of Leeds freshers week, all of our traders selected well and did very well with sales so they must be pleasing the majority. We visit beautiful venues all around the country that attract different traders and customers, the Winchester fair had several amazing 40s & 50s only stalls complimenting lower priced 60s, 70s & 80s stock, lots of people of all ages and styles left happy with purchases

  8. Hello, I really appreciate all comments recieved and what i have to say is that this is simply my opinion and I hope you can appreciate that. The fair at Leeds met was really disappointing in my opinion. I spent nearly two hours there looking around and really struggled to find anything. I mostly buy 1950s or older clothing, but as my most recent blogspost about Leeds town hall vintage fair proves, i often buy 70s and even 80s vintage too. I am not adverse to it by any stretch of the imagination. My initial problems stemmed from seeing a number of 80s dresses labeled as 50 dresses, this is something which I find happens quite often and really upsets me. If something is labeled as 50s style fine, but labeling something as actual 50s that isn't is a real gripe of mine. I just like sellers to be honest, when i sell vintage myself I always do my upmost to do this. I just wouldn't want anyone to feel like they had made some amazing 50s purchase when in reality they had not.I'm not going to deny my comment about saying there were poor quality items there, because there were. Every vintage fair has that, however good it is and actually the bad stuff increases the thrill when you find something really good. I spent a long time at the fair at Leeds met and simply didn't find anything, despite trying hard to do so. I also completely appreciate different looks that are popular. For example in Leeds I know that the cut off levi's look is huge so many girls i know love this look. I have nothing against this, and myself do own a pair of cut off levi shorts. When it comes down to it i fully understand it is simply business sense to sell what you know will sell in a certain place, having sold at vintage fairs myself I have experienced this first hand. I just felt that this fair was very lacking in the sort of vintage I like to buy. I come from the opinion that 80s and 90s stuff is more retro than vintage, I am actually writing about this at the moment. In response to the comment from The Vintage fair I have heard really good things about the vintage fair in Winchester. I read Ivy Black Chat's review of the fair today and was impressed.What can I say? I feel that everyone is completely entitled to their own opinion, and that is what I have voiced, my opinion. Saying this, whilst i wouldn't go to another The Vintage Fair event in Leeds I would be tempted to go to the next one in Winchester if I am about at the time. Every fair is different and this is something that i really understand. I hope i've answered everything here, but please do throw more comments out there! I am always up for answering them and trying to justify my reasoning as best as I can.LizXXX

  9. Thanks for your reply Liz. I think you have an interesting and informative blog, I just don't think you do yourself justice with this particular post. I agree that it is wrong to label a dress as 1950's if it was not – I don't know which stall that was on but I can understand your annoyance at that. I can also understand that the clothes on offer at this fair were not to your taste, and you are entitled to your opinion but you have to understand that when you claim that a fair is like a 'car boot sale' and that the sellers feel they can 'palm off such utter crap on students' that you are going to cause offence to those who work hard to organise and trade at the fair. It sounds like you are claiming that we are dishonest, of course I will take offence at that. Because one seller incorrectly labels items, it doesn't mean that we all do. And it is possible that the seller was naive rather than lying. The sellers at these fairs travel from all over the country and work hard to source their goods – they don't do this just to cater to your rather narrow tastes. If we were to put on your dream vintage fair, with very little post 1950's stuff on show, we'd all be out of business in no time. I do find it hard to believe that you didn't spot some of the 1950's gems that I did at the fair, but Winchester was a lovely fair so hopefully you can visit the next one and see for yourself.

  10. And I should clarify, by 'narrow tastes' I don't mean to be critical, but clearly you have a very particular style, so you're not going to find something that is to your taste wherever you go. But then surely that is part of the appeal.

  11. Thank you again for your comment. I understand how difficult it is as a trader taking older stuff to fairs too. When I've done vintage fairs and taken along some of my more valuable dresses to sell I have felt that sense of fear that these garments in a busy atmosphere are liable to damage. I've been downright scared when I've seen some particularly old items at fairs, such as 20s beaded dresses and thought I don't know if I could bear to bring that along to a fair, just for the fear of damage through excess hanging and movement. Some things are just safer to sell on the internet!Also I have no problem with seeing a wide range of stuff including 80s at a vintage fair, this is why I absolutely loved the fair I recently went to at Leeds Town Hall, this fair had an amazing breadth of stock, there really was something for everyone.I am very surprised that i did not spot your stuck, i was there for a long time. Hopefully at some point i will have the opportunity to see your stock again.Liz

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