So ever since I became an overly cocky, self assured but at the same time crippingly self conscious teenager I’ve been interested in things that are vintage. Though since coming out the other end of teen angst a few years ago, my interests in vintage have swayed more towards trinkets and furniture rather than 3 paisley printed scarfs for £10.
I was home at the weekend in Manchester, and in my opinion, the home of proper vintage. I’m not saying the term we used was coined there, or even that it’s got the best shops for it, but it has got one thing, a good balance. People whack the vintage label on anything and put the price up by £20 and people will pay, thinking they are getting a true bargain, or if not a bargain, they’re parting with this cash for an overpriced item because it’s ‘vintage’ That’s what I’ve found since vintage shopping in London anyway.
Two years ago, the sudden desire to own a fedora with a little fish hook feather overpowered me and I dragged my friend Musty to Portobello Market so I could seek one out. Now anyone who knows me quite well will know that I have a child’s sized head; a pea head if you will. I just can’t get hats to fit, and if I find one, oh boy am I snapping it up. So I found a hat that fits me kind of as long as I’m not going anywhere windy (good job I moved from Lancaster) but the guy tells me it’s £25 because it’s ‘true vintage’. Yeah? ‘True vintage’ you say? I didn’t know true vintage was made in china and stuck on the inside of the hat. Naturally, on principle I didn’t buy it.
Whilst living my teen years in Manchester, me and friend would regularly visit haunts on Oldham Street such as Ryan Vintage for £15 Fred Perry’s, Retro Rehab for £1 sale rail cocktail dresses and the £3 and under for well, £3 and under clothes. These were the days when you were paying max £10-15 for a Ralph Lauren shirt and £4 on a pair of vintage boots was a splurge. Then came the invasion of vintage chain brands like COW who somehow got away with charging £20 for a ‘vintage’ tie dye t-shirt and £40 for a pair of worn out moccasins.
Moving to London, I know ‘vintage’ is more expensive, it’s a tourist commodity, places like Portobello Market and Carnaby Street and you know what I don’t blame companies wanting to make more bang for their buck I really don’t. But it means I just don’t buy vintage anymore. Instead you’ll find me shopping around for Burberry bargains on eBay or going to an East End charity shop.
When I visited home this past weekend, my mum told me of a ‘Vintage Emporium’ that had popped up at Pear Mill in Stockport. Now Stockport doesn’t pop up at me when I think of ‘Vintage Emporium’ and neither does Pear Mill; a place I used to get dragged around looking at pine furniture in the early noughties. But I was really quite pleasantly surprised by the turn out.
You walk up to this part of the mill which towered over by the great old chimney and soot stained brick from years gone by and it’s quite quaint in it’s own little way. Inside, everything is set out in little shop styled format, a common theme any vintage rummager will know. But what really stood out about this place was the prices. Dresses from upwards of £7, shoes from as low as £8, trinkets and jewellery all £2,£3 and £5, little pieces of history.
The place was full of objects of character such as the three piece suite below, and a beautiful Indian hand painted wardrobe. Chests and trunks going for £60 instead of the £250 I’d seen weeks earlier in Portobello. One thing is for sure, as soon as I get my own place, I’m renting a van and sweeping this place of it’s amazing vintage furniture from eras spanning the 20th century.
This place is full of vintage delights and at the prices that vintage should be. The products still show the quality of their make, and I didn’t spot one item that I thought more on the gross end of vintage, no raggedy Brick Lane scarfs here. Being an old mill, the place adds character to the items, even with it’s bare walls and wooden floors, it feels like stepping back in time, especially when you see the psychedelic fitting rooms. All in all, a pure vintage delight, and I walked away with some mustard crocodile shoes for £14.
And the good news? The place is expanding to upstairs and to celebrate the grand opening, they’re holding a fashion show this Saturday 2nd May at 2pm, if you’re up North, it’s definitely worth dropping by. Info and tickets can be found here on their Facebook.