Since I was a teenager I've been mad about vintage menswear, loving the quality & clever tailoring and selling my more outlandish finds to local bands. Jon's worn vintage since his early teens and gets a real buzz out of converting sceptical vintage virgins into dedicated wearers. 23 years later I still pinch myself at my good fortune of meeting someone with the same passion.
|Photo of happy customer courtesy of Aspidistra Vintage|
|Our lovely regular Phil (his wife Lynn blogs HERE) modelling his new-to-him Kinky Melon jacket|
|Vintage Hardy Amies three piece suit|
These days most of our stock comes from private sales but we still find a fair few vintage gems in charity shops. Here's how:
|Feel the quality - Harris Tweed stands out a mile from the contemporary suit jackets|
|Check out the rainbow lining in this 1950s cashmere coat designed by Hardy Amies for menswear chain Hepworths.|
Know your labels. It helps that Jon & I are vintage so we're familiar with a lot of the now-defunct British menswear chains like Dunn & Co., Foster Menswear and John Collier that once traded in most major UK towns. Some brands like Aquascutum, Jaeger, Moss Bros and Burton (known as Montague Burton, pre-1960) have been going for years. Familiarise yourself with their current labels so you can easily spot an older one.
The label on the left comes from a 1970s wool suit, the right is from a 2014 cashmere overcoat.
The St Michael label on the left is from an early 1970s jacket (the washing instructions indicate that the garment is post-1960s) whilst the St Michael for Marks and Spencer blazer (image from Google) is 1990s and as it is less than twenty five years old it is NOT vintage.
|This stunner of a vintage Moss Bros velvet dinner jacket was labelled Size 16 and found on the womenswear rail recently|
|1980s leather biker jacket - another mislabelled beauty.|
Discovering the age of this dinner jacket was easy - the tailor's label is dated 16th May, 1935. In the old days menswear was tailor made or bought off the rack and hand finished to fit. Check for an inner label in the inside breast pocket and you'll often find the tailor's (and the previous owner's) name.
If the cuffs are threadbare, the elbows are bald, the collar has worn thin, the fabric has gone shiny in places or there's visible fag burns then put it down and walk away. Repairing an item so far gone will cost more than the value of the garment. Torn seams and clapped-out pockets can be mended and, as they're on the inside, the repair doesn't have to be perfect if its something you're keeping (as opposed to reselling).
|Boxed vintage Church's shoes - a similar pair now cost over £400|
If there's a super cheap clearance rail in your charity shop it's worth snapping up tatty jackets and shirts to salvage the trims (jumble sales are great for this, too). Buying replacement buttons from the haberdashers can add £££££s to the cost of your bargain vintage find. I've collected so many over the years from unwearable vintage clothes I can find a perfect match to almost any item missing a button.
|This vintage mac - with retro spy series The Game currently on TV, is one of our most requested items.|
Most (shirts, acrylics, macs, ties, scarves and trousers) are washed on a 30 degree cycle with a tablespoon of Wilko soda crystals and then line-dried. Particularly grubby articles get a pre-soak with Poundland's Oxi fabric stain remover before going in the machine. Woollens are hand washed in baby shampoo (from the pound shop) and dried flat on a rack over the bath.
|A filthy 1950s leisure shirt is transformed.|
Coats and Jackets marked Dry Clean Only are spot cleaned with diluted baby shampoo and tumble-dried on a delicate setting for 10 minutes with a lavender bag (or a muslin cloth spritzed with some essential oil) to freshen them up.
We're off out on the hunt again today. We're in Bath this weekend and last time we traded there we were so busy that so that when Em & her mum came to visit they ended up serving customers and offering styling advice.
PS The internet /phone line has been horrendous after BT did some work in the street and managed to f*ck up our connection on Bank Holiday Monday. If I don't comment or reply to any messages it isn't through want of trying!
See you soon!