Fashion: Back to the future with vintage wares

Hannah and Charlotte Booth show off some of the vintage styles on offer at the fair
Hannah and Charlotte Booth show off some of the vintage styles on offer at the fair
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While style may be the only thing that never goes out of fashion, it’s usually only a matter of time before what was once deemed a disaster is again gracing some skinny catwalk 
shoulders.

Along with the rise in economic and environmentally-conscious shoppers and the resurgence in popularity of burlesque over the past decade, this fact is probably the reason why our thirst for vintage clothing is growing.

So, with the Festival in full swing it’s possible that Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair, being held in the city next weekend, may attract even more people than the 1500 who turned out for its previous visit earlier this year.

The fair’s founder, Judy Berger, pictured below, says: “We’ve certainly got our fingers crossed for at least a repeat performance. With a lot more than our stalls on offer – 1940s tea party, retro hair and make-up, live acts and DJ sets – we want folk to make an afternoon of it, enjoying old-world glamour, without paying through the mouth.”

And it’s not just die-hard fashionistas who are wont to darken the fair’s 
doorstep.

Judy says: “Eclectic is definitely the word for our clientele. Everyone from thrifters and art students, dandies and rockabillies, young couples looking for affordable furnishings, art students looking for fabrics, high-street shoppers on the hunt for affordable trends, to grandparents and families enjoying the nostalgia.

“With affordability at our core, flexibility is what we’re all about, from sale rails and bargain buckets to discount designer finds, our traders try and keep things as cheap as possible. We’re also giving out free discount cards on the door – the Advintage card – to make your pennies stretch further.”

Given that Judy was a personal shopper at Selfridges before starting the fair, now in its fourth year, it’s a solid bet that she’s got her finger firmly on the fashion pulse. So what trends should dedicated followers be filling their wardrobes with?

“On the crux of the autumn, our eyes are certainly on the new season and what it’s set to bring; a 90s revival, monochrome and repeat prints, military and gothic as well as Gatsby-esque opulence,” she says.

And for those who can’t wait until next Sunday, Judy also has some tips on where to unearth fashion finds to make you the envy of your friends all year round.

“I love the Frayed Hem on Cockburn Street. As time’s gone on, we’ve got some great Scottish traders on our books – Glasgow-based Once Upon a Time are certainly a trader I would check out and they will be at our Edinburgh fair.

“I’ve also made some amazing finds in thrift stores over the years. You’ve got to keep your eyes open as you never know what’s going to pop up. It would be tough to pick a favourite item, possibly a bargain £10 Ossie Clarke dress bought from one of the fairs we held in Oxford or a pair of vintage gold Chanel earrings picked up in a thrift store in New York. I also just got back from Denmark where I bought some vintage fisherman lights for a fiver – they cost more than £200 in London.”

Judy isn’t the only one who thinks the 90s are coming back. Evening News fashion writer Lynne McCrossan, author of A Girl’s Guide to Vintage, said: “Fashion historian James Laver wrote many seminal works on fashion, one of the most famous of which is Laver’s Law. According to him, things generally come back into fashion once the time when they were last popular is far enough away that they can be regarded with nostalgia by the people who wore them then, and can also be rediscovered by a new generation.

“This usually takes about 20 years, so the early 90s are due for a comeback. If you saw The Voice recently you’ll have noticed Jessie J wearing lots of loud prints which are very reminiscent of Versace clothing from that time, and we’re also going to see a revival of the Britpop style – Oasis parkas and the Fred Perry look Blur used to sport. The type of music popular then is coming back too, a lot more hardcore dance rave is creeping up the charts.”

Following the recent Jubilee and the Olympic Games, a return to Cool Britannia couldn’t have been timed better.

Lynne also has some tips on where to make those fashion finds.

“I absolutely love Herman Brown on West Port. It’s run by a woman called Anna Nicholson and her stuff is just amazing. She’s in her 60s, so she’s been in the business for a while and she’s got a great eye.”

n Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair will take place at the HMV Picture House on Sunday, August 19, from 11am-4pm. Entry is £2, £1 for students and OAPS. Under-12s go free.

jen.lavery@edinburghnews.com