Vintage at Goodwood

Vintage at Good wood: retro chic comes of age

Vintage has had a rocky ride to respectability. The Noughties saw the word become fashionable and then ubiquitous. Kate Moss paraded her Twenties flapper dresses, Topshop got in on the act, and vintage megastore Beyond Retro in east London became a hipster hangout. From T-shirts to tea sets, it became a watered-down label applied to anything second-hand. Now the pendulum has swung back: vintage is special again.

“Today, 'vintage’ is overground and it’s hard to find a town without a vintage clothes shop,” says Wayne Hemingway, designer and founder of Red or Dead, who has collected vintage since his youth. “But when I was growing up, wearing second-hand signified you were poor.”

To channel his passion, Hemingway, along with his wife Gerardine and their children, has created the UK’s first vintage festival, Vintage at Goodwood. A three-day celebration of fashion, music and culture, this weekend’s inaugural event will feature the largest gathering of vintage clothes stalls the country has ever seen. “Vintage fashion is a win-win. It’s about upcycling [converting old materials into a new product], recycling, thriftiness and great design. I felt this was the right time to celebrate it and show people how good vintage links music, fashion and film.”

Another long-term collector, Carmen Haid, gave vintage a respectable boost last year when she set up Atelier Mayer (, an online emporium selling gems such as Halston from the Seventies and Nina Ricci from the Sixties. “I loved Net-a-Porter, but there was nothing like it for luxury vintage fashion. We have customers all over the world who buy our pieces because they want to look different, but want good service with it.” A shop opened to follow the website in Bayswater, west London, last summer.

Vintage at Goodwood and Atelier Mayer encapsulate the movement’s new image: polished, accessible and done with passion. They show that vintage can be relevant without being overhyped. But how do you class something as vintage?

“Strictly speaking, items have to be more than 25 years old,” says Haid. “We do take things up to the Nineties, but only if it is a fabulous piece.”

Hemingway sees the lines as more blurred: “I think it takes 20 years for something to look good. For me, it’s hard to class something from the Nineties as vintage. I personally wonder how anyone can be celebrating the Eighties again as, to me, it’s too recent, but it’s fresh to anyone under the age of 30. There’s nothing wrong with different generations interpreting vintage in their own way.”

Echoing New York’s established vintage scene, there’s a new breed of shops that offer well-chosen second-hand pieces at affordable prices, and with good shopping experiences. Wolf & Gypsy (, a new boutique in Brighton, offers an uncluttered selection in an airy, wood-floored shop. “Everything is hand-picked and I want customers to see that,” says Laura Pollard, Wolf & Gypsy’s co-founder. “I display the pieces to show off their character and charm, and the space makes for a pleasant shopping experience. These days, customers don’t want to visit a thrift shop that’s stacked to the ceiling.”

This appeals to the fashionable, time-conscious customer of today – and makes perfect sense. If you’re spending the same on a vintage dress as you would on the high street, you want the same level of comfort and service. These days, we don’t want to get our hands dirty finding bargains. Unearthing a forgotten gem is a hard task, which is why shops will often search on your behalf.

But for those who can’t stomach wearing cast-offs, however good a condition, vintage inspiration is never far away. Designer labels take endless cues from fashion that’s come before: just look at Chloé’s Seventies-esque trousers for autumn, Miu Miu’s Sixties-style minis or Louis Vuitton’s Fifties-look dresses.

Canny high-street brands, including Toast, Anthropologie and Fever, use vintage shapes each season. “We visit vintage shops and flea markets in New York, Los Angeles, Bangkok and Singapore for influences in both print and shape,” says Matt Barker, creative director of Fever ( “A Forties dress can be inspirational, for instance, because they were cut on the bias to get the best shape possible. We might combine a Forties cut with a Seventies print, and end up with a dress that’s really interesting. Customers don’t always just want newness.”

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