In the not so dim and distant past, vintage as a term for clothing just didn’t exist. Clothes with a history or a past were simply known as ‘old’, bringing to mind jumble sales and hand-me-downs. However, these days, vintage isn’t just a description for the clothing, it’s a call to arms for the fashion conscious. Those who in the eternal search for individuality are dissatisfied by the chain clothing stores with which we are all familiar or those disillusioned with how far their budget can stretch on the high street. Vintage clothing offers a myriad of attractions for intrepid fashion followers. The main difference is that, yes, it’s second hand, but don’t let that scare you: buying used clothes is not only environmentally sound, but celebrity endorsed, with the likes of Alexa Chung and Zooey Deschanel religious vintage buyers. But, the most attractive, vital thing that sets vintage apart, is the fact that it’s unique. What lays within the word is the promise that individuality is not only achievable, but affordable. Yes, it might smell like your grandma’s dustiest dresser drawer initially, but after a good wash the only way anyone will know it’s vintage is from your smug response to the chorus of ‘where did you get that?’ Here are my tips for those a bit squeamish about second-hand (it’s not just for indie kids, promise!):
1. Sharpen your elbows, great pieces can attract swarms of voracious hipsters and you’ll need them to fight them off and bag that bargain.
2.Variety is key, mix it up with charity shops, markets and your parents’ wardrobes (yes even your dad’s, which is great for denim/checked shirts and oversized jumpers).
3. Be prepared to rummage, often the best bargains are the fruits of extensive foraging and you may have to sift through some less than desirable clothes to get to the key pieces.
4. Look for quality, one of the main advantages of vintage is its age, which in the clothing world often means better durability than offered by modern vendors due to the cost-cutting of the contemporary clothes market. However, think carefully about buying damaged items; sometimes a piece suits a bit of wear and tear, other times an item might be a fixer-upper but if you like your clothes pristine and ready to wear, those holy jeans aren’t for you!
5. Make investments, go for pieces with style that can transcend the constant flux of trends, these are worth both time and effort and when you find them keep a tight hold.
6. Avoid ‘vintage’ sections at high-street shops as although these can be more accessible you’ll pay a premium for their place in the shop and better bargains are certainly to be had elsewhere.
Where to go in Manchester:
You’ll hear many an indie kid raving about the vintage haven that is Oldham street and it lives up to its status in terms of choice and variety but some shops can be a little pricy for my Dickensian pauper budget, happily though the street is home to Vintage Kilo Sales (£15 per kilo of vintage) where piling on the pounds is a good thing! The next will be held at Moho Live on the 3rd of December.
One of the best shops on the street is Ryan Vintage, a veritable vintage treasure trove.
For the even thriftier, beauteous bargains are to be had in the charity shops of Withington, West Didsbury and Chorlton.