Vintage has long been a buzz word in the fashion industry, bandied around by designers and celebrities alike. No fashion connoisseur should be without at least one timeless, classic vintage designer piece, but what about us mere mortals and penniless students?
Well the good news is that you don’t have to start raiding through the back of your nan’s wardrobe just yet, as vintage has well and truly hit the high street. It seems that every city in the UK boasts vintage boutiques for those one-off finds, and nowhere is this more evident than Sheffield, which has seen the recent opening of new stores specialising in vintage and second-hand garments and accessories. Alongside Freshmans and other independent vintage stores that have quietly been making a name for themselves over the years, two larger stores arrived in Sheffield city centre last summer. Cow, one of the few vintage chain stores in the UK, is impossible to miss with its acid-yellow shop front, postboxes on the doors and cow shed for a cash desk. It’s much bigger than most vintage stores with a wide range of stock, and is aimed firmly at students. In January, Cow organised a student lock-in at all three of its stores in Sheffield, Birmingham and Nottingham, with live music from local acts, free beer, cupcakes, 10 per cent discount on all stock and an after party. Since then, stock has been flying off the shelves and is replenished daily to meet demand.
Bang Bang Vintage also opened in Sheffield last year. Not to be outdone by the likes of Cow, they have been quick to try and entice as many students inside as possible with student discounts and stock from up-and-coming designers. It’s also doing its bit for the environment, with its own Bang Bang Recycled in-store concession, where clothes that are unfit to be sold are reworked and modernised to create entirely new, unique garments. Buying vintage also helps to reduce emissions and waste caused by the production of new items of clothing, as well as being more environmentally friendly than throwing away unwanted clothes.
Bang Bang also prides itself on providing a platform for new designers and stocking locally produced clothing. It even offers studio space and equipment for designers to use on-site to bring their designs to life, meaning customers get completely individual clothes and designers get exposure. High street vintage has finally landed, and it’s affordable, chic and very cool.
But it doesn’t stop there. Not only are the new stores good news in terms of choice, but competition is driving down prices and students in particular are reaping the benefits. Sheffield Vintage organises vintage fashion events such as fashion shows, clothes swaps and fairs. Following the success of their first vintage-clothes swap in December last year, a second was held recently where everyone brought along five to 10 vintage items that were exchanged for a “swaps voucher”. This entitled you to take home the number of items that you brought with you, and only good quality clothes and accessories could be swapped. Any leftover clothes were donated to a local charity and bins were also provided to donate directly to the charity if desired.
Vintage fairs are also increasing in popularity, with Sheffield Vintage showcasing clothing between 30 to 40 different stalls in student venues. The Affordable Vintage Fashion Fair has also set up camp in student unions across the UK selling cheap vintage items and customising and repairing old clothes, with style advisers are on hand to provide advice.
Sheffield isn’t the only student city to be hit by the vintage fashion craze: Leeds, Birmingham and Nottingham are just a few cities with an ever-increasing number of stores. With the fairs taking to the road, you can guarantee more students than ever will be tempted to beat the credit crunch by going vintage.