EAST LONDON, BABY
First of all, brace yourself, this is a long post, probably the longest one ever, or so I hope. But it will hopefully give some insight on vintage shopping in East London, particularly Brick Lane - the old brewery.
Men often get blamed for never asking for help. They will never admit if they have taken off at the wrong exit, nor when looking at a map: their eyes easily give away that they have no clue what so ever of where they are, still they will never speak of it. But are women really any better?
My interest in vintage has blossomed from a some what crooked little bud to a strong, determined flower - reaching for the sun with every breath. I love vintage - check, I appreciate the environment friendly aspect of vintage - check, I adore the fact that they are one offs - check. Finally, the thing that really gets me: enjoying pieces someone else has made memories and had fun in. The stories behind the clothes intrigue me. However, when it comes to questions about the relationship: price and quality, I'm basically without a clue. What is too much?
When I discovered Naomi of Vintage Secret (Don't ask me how, it's just one of those bi-effects of the internet) I quickly sent her an email. I wanted to know from her first-handed what her service was all about. Basically she told me it was like going vintage shopping with a friend that had good taste, knows where to go, and can get you great discounts. So naturally I booked a days shopping with her.
When Tuesday arrived I got up early. The sun was peaking through the clouds - and that was enough for me, coming from winter wonderland back home. Dressed in simple clothes (always a must for shopping, not to make the constant changing to hard), I got on the train.
As I got of the train at Victoria my expectations were sky high. At one point I actually had to exercise some serious self talk, desperately trying to calm myself down, and lower my expectations to a somewhat reachable level.
Jumpsuit from Beyond Retro, shoes second hand from my mother.
I met Naomi at the Vintage Emporium, where we talked over coffee, hot chocolate and a piece of apple pie. After establishing some ground rules: what I was looking for, and talking about my style in general, we set of downstairs to rummage through the Emporiums exceptional treasures.
As mentioned, one of the things I was most keen on learning was the relationship between price, quality and the age of garment. I quickly realized that my Notting Hill vintage shopping has prices I now in true words can call outrages and over the top. At least compared to what is on offer in Bacon Street number 14. As the cafe is on the ground floor, the shop is half way beneath street level. However, two large windows let in enough light to give the clothes a fraction of the shine they deserve.
The Vintage Emporium specializes in clothes pre 1950s, and have truly succeeded. Naomi quickly started shuffling through the racks. To big, to much, not quite the right colour, easily making me understand that this lady easily has a black belt in vintage shopping. I ended up trying two fault-free 1940s dresses. At the same time discovering that my bodyshape fits the clothes of that era almost perfectly. The friendly owner Jess put the two dresses aside, and of we went, continuing our vintage quest.
Picture taken from the Emporiums online page.
Wasting no time we quickly reached Hunky Dory vintage, a shop run by two kind gentlemen. Rushing to the racks Naomi again began looking for the lethal combination of right size, look and price, with me standing close with an eager eye. With a few pieces hanging off Naomi's arm we disappeared one floor down, trying our best not to miss out on anything. I tried on a floral dress, with amazing details and indescribable ruffles along the asymmetrical edge of the dress. Accompanying me in the dressing room was also a skirt, a black and yellow Salvatore Ferragamo dress, unfortunately not taken good care of by its previous owner, resulting in moth holes, and a 1960s two piece set - a top and a skirt, in a floral pattern.
Picture taken from flickr.com
Cardigan clips from The Shop
It is strange how something, in this case vintage shopping can make one forget almost anything. The people closest to me don't even lift an eyebrow when I mention food. As it seems I am, if not constantly, at least quite often hungry. When walking along Bacon street to our next destination I would have expected my stomach to scream, kick and roar for food, but it didn't.
The Shop is truly a paradise for anyone that vaguely likes silk scarfs. They are everywhere. In baskets on the floor, on tables and chairs. In cabinets on the wall, and hanging from other furniture. This was the cheapest of the days shops. Also here Naomi knew the owner. The shop assistant nodded in agreement when asked whether her day was filled with folding. "There are so many scarfs here, and almost impossible for the customers to put them back in the correct place, and folded properly" she replies.
Trying on several maxi lengths we both got disappointed when realizing they simply weren't floor sweeping on me. Am I too tall to ever find a floor length gown? I ended up getting a pair of earrings and a pair of cardigan clips. I must admit I was a bit uncertain, but now I am absolutely infatuated with them.
Picture taken from thrift-ola.com
Last but not least we continued down Bacon Street to Beyond Retro, a huge warehouse full of vintage. The trick here, I learned, is to know what your looking for. Otherwise it will take forever. The shop is well organized and has an amazing selection of clothes, bags and other accessories. Here I ended up buying quite a number of pieces. I promise to show them as soon as I wear them.
We finished of the day with a glass of juice at The Vintage Emporium Cafe, and do you know what: The day exceeded all of my expectations. I ended up buying one of the the 1940s dresses from the Emporium. And my goal of learning more about prices, and alternative places in London to shop was a success.