Fashion: Rag-trade rummager

Shopping with Jane Clucas

Jane Clucas makes her living by creating pretty child-ren's clothes out of vintage Fifties and Sixties fabrics. Although the finished product is sold in such style havens as Cath Kidston, Matches and, soon, The Conran Shop, Clucas's raw material often has a more humble provenance. Most of her shopping time for the past seven years has, she claims, been spent in charity shops hunting out these vintage fabrics.

"I used to get lots of fabric from charity shops, but I'm finding that often they have become more like vintage shops - charging pounds 15 or pounds 20 for any slightly old clothing. They seem to have become centralised - one main office says how all the shops should look - and anything interesting is often binned." Despite this gripe, Clucas still rates "funny ones run by two old ladies who just put everything out!" She claims the RSPCA charity shop, in Aylesbury (tel: 01296 415846) fills such criteria.

One of Clucas's secret sources of vintage fabric is to be found in Dorset. On holiday there Clucas was tipped off by a local antique shop. "The Clothes Line (Unit 6, Sterte Industrial Estate, 145 Sterte Road, Sterte, nr Poole, tel: 01202 676256) is a really odd place right in the middle of nowhere. It took ages to find. It's quite weird - there's a bathtub filled with goldfish as you go in - but there are rooms full of jumble sale stuff and even fancy dresses." Clucas thought she'd "died and gone to heaven" when she discovered a room piled high with pairs of old curtains which she recycled into her children's wear. Although designers and trade people often buy goods by the kilo, this jumble-sale-cum warehouse is open to the public, too.

Jane Clucas is refreshingly open about where she hunts out vintage fabrics but admits that, even for a designer, finding such places can be very difficult. "The old fabric business is like the Mafia!" she laughs. "Nobody will tell you where the rag yards are and even then you need to make an appointment."

In contrast, Clucas finds some stall holders who sell vintage materials very helpful. "The nicest vintage clothing stalls are London's Great and Dolly Rockers (units in The Stables Market, Chalk Farm Road, Camden, London NW1, tel: 0171-485 5511). They're run by a really friendly couple who always get me stuff." For friendly service Clucas recommends the haberdashery M Courts & Son Ltd (50 Brick Lane, London, E1, tel: 0171-247 6888), often used by the trade. Hours spent sewing at home mean that Clucas often asks for buttons to be posted to her. "I like them because if I can't get to London they send things to me which arrive the next day."

The Clucas family home does not escape the designer's preference for vintage. "We've practically done out the whole house with what I call 'village hall furniture' from the Berkhamsted Auction Rooms (tel: 01442 865169)." Clucas has picked up second-hand furniture there which would cost "10 times as much in London".

The designer finds London's Oxford Street "a nightmare", preferring to zip along the streets behind buying high- street labels second-hand. Her husband's work shirts and clothes for her own children (when they're not wearing Clucas's designs) are bought from the Salvation Army Charity Shop (9 Princes Street, London W1, tel: 0171-495 3958). For herself, Clucas keeps it simple. "I always end up dizzy and go into Gap (enquiries: 0800 427 789) for a black T-shirt, and I love the shoes in Camper (tel: 0171- 629 2722). I know I can go in there and there'll definitely be something I like."

Imogen Fox

Jane Clucas enquiries: 01442 873642

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

    £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

    Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

    £28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

    Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

    £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

    Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

    £18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

    Day In a Page

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
    A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

    It's not easy being Green

    After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
    Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

    Gorillas nearly missed

    BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
    Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

    The Downton Abbey effect

    Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
    China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

    China's wild panda numbers on the up

    New census reveals 17% since 2003