Come with Stain to Frock Me Vintage

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In April Stain went to one of London’s biggest vintage fairs, Frock Me Vintage, to give you a peak inside of the event (and do a bit of shopping ourselves).

 Frock Me Vintage is London’s original vintage fair, started by Mathew Adams in 1997 as a vintage clothing and antique goods fair. After the overwhelming response of stall owners wanting to show at the event, Adams spilt the fair into two separate spaces, with vintage fashion held at Chelsea Town Hall and antiques held at Kensington Town Hall.

Currently there are four Frock Me Vintage clothing fairs a year with over 60 stalls at each event. The exhibitors come from across the UK and France to sell their collections with oil painting and crystal chandeliers from the Victorian ear as the backdrop in the historic hall. Some of the stall owners have been showing at the fair since its creation in the late 90s.

It is one of the most coveted vintage events in London with a selective acceptance process. “After seven years of waiting, I managed to get a stand at Frock Me in 2017,” says Naz Jackson, the co-owner of D’Ord vintage.

Each stall has it’s own speciality, whether it’s 20s couture or vintage Chanel. Frock Me Vintage is known for having former costume designers for film and TV host stalls at the event and selling their one of a kind pieces, such as Fola Solanke, owner of Vintwear Two.

Sarah Horrillo

Sarah is the owner of London Ophelia Vintage Emporium, or LOVE. She has one of the largest stalls at Frock Me Vintage, taking up an entire corner of the room. As well as showing at the vintage fair, LOVE has a permanent stall at Portobello Road Market.

How long have you been selling at Frock Me Vintage?

I’ve been trading here for about four years now but I only got a place as a permanent trader the past year. It is one of the best fairs in London with a great and varied clientele and wonderful fellow traders who are all full of enthusiasm and a love of vintage.

What is your favourite part of  the event? 

I love the part that comes after setting up when there’s rushing around to see what treasures other traders have brought.

But for me, my favourite is when customers start to come onto my stand, and the delight I see when one finds something unusual. Maybe it’s the lovely little detail you tend to find in beautifully made pieces. Or when someone matches a 80s skirt with a Victorian or 40s blouse. Or a girl trying on a pretty vintage frock with her Converse or Dock Martins. Seeing them create their own style and mixing it up a bit, that is my favourite part.

Where do you collect most of your stock? 

I search all over everywhere I go. I never go on holiday without an empty suitcase inside of my suitcase. Most is from here in the UK but I buy from the US and France too. I'm always hunting and always buying.

What inspired you to start selling vintage?

I’ve always loved vintage. From the age of 13 I would go to jumble sales and charity shops rather than high street shops.

Selling vintage is always what I should have done, but after a life-changing event that meant I had to stop my other career it came to me accidentally after selling some of my old clothes from my attic at Portobello Market on Sunday. A couple of my regulars said that I had a good eye and should try the vintage Friday market there. I never looked back, that was six years ago and this is now my full time job. It’s hard work but I love it.

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Samaya Ling

Samaya is the owner of Samaya Ling Vintage and has been selling at vintage fairs in London and New York for over 15 years. On a white backdrop Samaya has arranged an array of gold vintage pieces from dresses, to clutches, to an ornate metal headpiece. Samaya notes that she likes to mix couture pieces mixed with the craziest pieces up front on display.

How long have you been selling at Frock Me Vintage?

Ooh lord, maybe 14 years? About that I think. It’s one of my favourite events. The team are the best and Chelsea Town Hall is absolutely beautiful. 

What is your favourite part of the event? 

I like the buzz at set up, having the porters running around, and making my stand look amazing. Then all of a sudden it’s opening time. Then, I love meeting people and there is a great satisfaction when someone loves and buys something you sourced.

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Have you always been interested in vintage fashion?

I have loved vintage since I was a child. My family was so lucky to have a great vintage shop around the corner from our flat in Redland, Bristol. We had a fancy dress box with old sequin capes and velvet embroidered tunics, as well as some smelly old feather things. My mum sold 20s pieces at The Hope Centre Saturday fairs in Clifton, Bristol. I still remember a pink short furry cloche hat with jewels sewn onto it that she had.  I even wore a vintage 30s crepe dress to my school prom.  

When did you start to sell vintage yourself?

I started to sell my own vintage pieces, which was mainly vintage costume jewellery, when my son was small, about 15 years ago. They sold so well that I went and bought some more and it grew and grew from there.

Kathy Stevenson

Kathy is the owner of 5678 Vintage and sells on Etsy and at vintage events around London. 5678 Vintage is all about print and colour with heavily 70s based stock. Kathy’s market stall is packed with floral kimonos and paisley dresses with strappy leather sandals arranged neatly under each piece.

 How does the fair compare to selling online?

 I mainly sell via Etsy, so it's only at the fairs that I get to see customers try on and style my pieces. I always enjoy watching people try things on and mixing unexpected items together. Maybe she tries on an antique kimono from my stall with her own trainers or a baseball cap.

Even after trading for a good few years I'm always fascinated by how people put things together in ways that I could have never really imagined when I first sourced the item. I think that's what keeps vintage fresh and exciting. 

 Have you always worn vintage yourself?

I've always shopped second hand. I grew up in a very small village in Devon during the 80s and early 90s and there weren't very many shops, so my wardrobe mostly came from the local car boot sale.  I only really started to understand what 'vintage' was, and that most of my wardrobe was already 'vintage', when I moved to London in the early 2000s and discovered all the amazing shops and markets here.

Is it ever difficult to sell your own collection?

I think like many traders I started because I had such a large collection of my own and it was all getting a bit out of hand. I love the hunt but it's also really satisfying to see pieces find new homes. I don't ever regret selling anything, as I'm always excited to see what I can find next.

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Fola Solanke

Fola is the owner of Vintwear Two. At Frock Me Vintage her stall has an earthy feel, with a large shell chandelier hanging in the centre and small cacti placed next to bags and jewellery on the table. The stock at the stall follows this nature theme, filled with light floral dresses and skirts.

Who are your favourite customers at the event?

 I love meeting and selling to a variety of customers. From international fashion design companies to top design labels, (whose names I must keep confidential) as well as high street labels, vintage collectors, fashion students, and stylists. The general shoppers are great too when they want to add a vintage item to their contemporary wardrobe, either for a special occasion or to complete an outfit. It’s rewarding to help people incorporate vintage into their style.

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What inspired you to start selling vintage?

 I used to work in costume for film & television as a freelancer, so part of my job was sourcing costumes for the productions that I was working on. Then, in between jobs, I started buying vintage clothing to sell on eBay. I loved it so much, and I realised I had such a good eye that people actually bought all my items. Selling vintage was so rewarding and creative that I gave up my day job.

Where do you collect most of your stock?

A well-informed vintage dealer never reveals their sources. But I spend lots of time going to car boot sales, antique flea markets, and the occasional auction - that’s mainly a treat however.

 

The upcoming fair dates are: June 9th, October 6th, and November 3rd. All from 11am to 5:30pm at Chelsea Old Town Hall, Kings Road, SW3 5EE.