Take a walk around town and it’s a guarantee that you will see at least one advert for a vintage fair or event. Students are mad for vintage and they’re not the only ones, but why is second hand so stylish at the moment? Keeley Harris is the director of Discover Vintage and takes around 20 vintage events a year round the country. I caught up with her at a fair being held at the Barbican in York.
Talking about the increase of interest in vintage Keeley said, ‘People like the nostalgia, the home wares and the fashion. I think people like to get different, well fitted and really well made clothes. You can’t find that in the high street shops these days unless you’re prepared to spend a lot of money.’
Vintage can be seen as an investment as it’s value will increase with age, whereas if you put an unwanted Topshop dress from last season on Ebay, you’re lucky to get half the price you paid. So what separates vintage from second hand? ‘The date line really,’ said Keeley, ‘I think with vintage, in my mind, it’s from the 1920s to the 1970s. Whereas second hand is later than that, like things you can find in charity shops. Vintage has got a story, it’s things that are really well made and iconic of their time.’
An event like this will bring in about a thousand visitors coming from all over and a lot of them are regulars. With wedding fairs and festivals in the pipeline it is evident that vintage is a serious business as well as being seriously fun. ‘Vintage Circle’ stall holder Rachel has worked on and off in vintage for 15 years. She said, ‘Once you’ve got the bug, that’s it. Obviously we all hope to make money but it’s great fun as well. Vintage is really popular at the moment but there’s a lot of it about so it can be quite competitive.’
Walking around the fair there is a juke box playing Beatles songs whilst people rifle through stacks on vinyls. A pretty girl dressed in a pink fifties dress is giving ladies victory rolls in their hair and bright red lips. Colourful cupcakes and bunting decorate the stalls full of weird and wonderful items. Although there is money to be made in vintage, predominantly, it’s about fun (and finding the perfect fitting prom dress…).