Vintage fashion has a strange relationship with the high street. While you would think that they are often fiercely opposed to each other, many fashion conscious men are happy to embrace both. HIGHMAN FASHION looks at the pop up fairs in Cardiff and how they can live in harmony with the high street.
There is a lot to look forward to in 2011 if you are a vintage fashion fan in Cardiff. The scene has always been booming business in the Welsh Capital with a plethora of vintage boutiques lining the city’s famous arcades. But now a new breed of pop up fairs is allowing bargain hunters to gorge on more goodies.
One of Cardiff’s most popular vintage fairs is the Blind Lemon Vintage Fair, which returns to the city on 6th February, bringing with it over 40 stalls of good quality vintage under the roof of City Hall.
Blind Lemon Vintage owner Edwin Dyson
Starting as a clothing store in Narberth in Pembrokeshire back in 2005, the concept developed into a travelling fair across Southwest England and South Wales, in order to meet a need for a good choice of vintage clothing and accessories.
Owner Edwin Dyson explains that it is one of his favourite cities:
“Cardiff is one of my most popular fairs, with on average 800 coming along during the day. Although Cardiff has less vintage shops than somewhere like say, Bristol, it still has two universities and a vibrant live music and cultural scene.”
The previous Bland Lemon Vintage Fair at Cardiff's City Hall
But Blind Lemon is not alone on the Cardiff vintage pop-up scene. Buffalo Boutique is a monthly vintage fair that takes place at the popular Buffalo Bar on Windsor Place, and after taking a short break, it returns on the 16th February. Based on the idea of ‘pop-up shops’, each stall has its own identity and products range from the 1950s up to the 1990s.
Owned by the couple behind Looby Loo’s concession Kooki Two Bit, Chris and Hana also believe that Cardiff is fast becoming a thriving city for vintage fashion:
“The vintage scene in Cardiff is becoming really strong. There appears to be far more interest among students, I think because of the value it offers and it is becoming far more popular with more fashion conscious buyers looking for a unique style.
“I think that some people in Cardiff still see vintage as ‘second-hand’ and have a little bit of a naive view, preferring the high street instead. People are easily influenced by what they see in the high street, as they have not had much on offer in the past in terms of vintage stores and fairs.”
From vintage to high street
However, vintage is not always about dressing head to toe in quirky clobber, looking as if the past threw up on you. It can be blended with high street pieces to create a look that is different to the everyday.
Vintage trader Geoff Waldron
As Blind Lemon stall holder, Geoff Waldron explains, many high street designs are inspired by vintage items, but that vintage is always that one step ahead in the fashion steaks:
“At the moment peacoats, chunky knits, cable knit jumpers and brogues are really popular on the high street and you can get them from Topshop and Topman, but their inspiration came from us. We have been selling these items way before the high street caught on to them.
“People still buy them from us because they’re all different and you won’t be wearing the same thing as everyone else,” Geoff explains.
I’ve got a few vintage bits and bobs but the problem I have with vintage shopping is that often I pick up something that I absolutely love but it’s the wrong size or has a fault with it that I don’t have the seemsmanship to fix. Like many other shoppers I pick out the vintage inspired items from high street stores because it’s less hassle and I don’t have to spend hours rummaging only to be disappointed.
If you like me love the vintage look but you like your shops set out neatly with a guarantee of getting what you want, the high street do offer some great vintage alternatives.
Steal his style
HIGHMAN FASHION went to the last Blind Lemon Vintage Fashion Fair to see if the best vintage looks could be replicated on the high street.
James, 23, librarian and vintage seller
James wears his loafers with a turned up pair of dark denim skinny jeans and braces:
“I really like the tasselled loafers at the moment. They’re a natural progression from the boating shoe which has been popular the past few years.”
Perfect for casual wear of formal wear, the high street offers a range for both occasions. River Island have kept it playful with coloured suede, while Burton and Topman both have offers available on their more traditional styles in their sales.
Star Style... Olly Murs
Brogued tasselled loafers, ASOS, £130
Brown tasselled loafers, Burton, Was £45 Now £20
Blue lace detail loafers, River Island, £39.99
Olly Murs wears a brown pair of loafers with chinos and a chunky kit.
Tom, 25, vintage seller
Tom wears a Barbour jacket with light denim skinny jeans and plimpsoles.
“I love my Barbour. It took me ages to find the exact one I wanted but I’m so glad I found it.”
Barbour, wax and quilted jackets are becoming ever popular, but be careful when trying to pull off this look, otherwise you could end up looking like you’re off out on a fox hunt. Tom has got the look just right here, keeping it casual with jeans.
Grey quilted casual jacket, River Island, £49.99
Navy jersey quilted jacket, Topman, £50
Alistair, 28, medical secretary
Alistair wears a tweed jacket with a plain white tee and dark denim slim jeans.
“It’s nice to buy something that you don’t usually see on the high street. I found my tweed jacket at a fair like this.”
Well Alistair, we’ve found you some high street options! How about a war inspired grey tweed or a more modern skinny fit blazer?
Charcoal donkey skinny blazer, Topman, £84
Grey tweed elbow patch jacket, Topman, £150
Star Style... George Lamb
Why not try layering up a more formal look like George Lamb with a shirt, jumper and slim coloured cords, complete with brogues.
If you want to find out about women’s vintage fashion, why not check out Peace, Love and Polkadots, Cardiff Chic and Vintage Cardiff for starters.