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The Vintage High Street

Sunday 07 November 2010

There are times when I can be walking along my local high street and as I glance around, I notice that there are a number of people who strut their stuff dressed head-to-toe in vintage clothing. It seems to me that it is more of a lifestyle than ‘just an outfit’ and the commitment in time and money that must be used on it would be something that most of us could only dream of.

However, in a day-and-age where fashion and style are more prominent than ever, vintage shops, boutiques and fairs are beginning to pop-up everywhere.

Owner of Tasty Vintage in Lincoln, Harriet Ulph believes vintage fashion has grown in popularity.

“ I think people have really cottoned on to the fact that you can get amazing quality clothing for a fraction of the price you would have to pay in a high end boutique, as well as a truly individual look. Stars wearing vintage dresses on the red carpet, designers making a very clear reference to previous decades in their catwalk collections as opposed to just stealing a little bit of them, and the current economic climate and raised ecological awareness mean that people are very much aware and in favour of re-use and recycling as a viable fashion alternative.”

Harriet has been selling vintage clothing since her teens and Tasty Vintage is an extension of her online store which she started up in 2002. The store, which has just had its first anniversary, sits along a cobbled street and is a welcome change to the number of regular stores that turn up on British high streets.

“We see new customers most days which is great for a relatively small city, and are very well placed for the passing tourist trade which definitely helps. It’s nice to have reached a point where people are returning regularly now, and are making a point of coming to see us from other cities,” said Harriet.

There has always been a demand for second hand clothing, particularly where it might have a story behind it. Vintage clothing is now a sort-after commodity amongst students especially when it is seen being worn by the likes of Kate Moss, Julia Roberts, Renee Zelwegger, Chloe Sevigny and Dita von Teese.

At times, the fashion industry turns to historical eras for inspiration; take for example, the recent increase in the number of jackets, blouses and jumpers to have the 1980s revival of shoulder pads installed in them. These pieces are one-of-a-kind and something that would be hard to part with. But would vintage fashion ever take the place of our everyday high street stores? Harriet thinks there’s a place in the fashion world for both.

“I think there will always be a demand for vintage, particularly where people are looking at the current trends and seeing where the inspiration has come from. It’s less of a niche market than it has been in the past, but I think it will carry on complimenting modern trends rather than overtaking them.”

There is nothing new about vintage fashion; it’s just the fact that we’re now more aware of it becoming part of mainstream society. Whether you’re hooked on the high street or a vintage fanatic, there is a definite divide between those who wear high street and those who go vintage and the more places that I visit, the more I realise this.  With the number of shops now specialising in second-hand garments, the high street is upping its game when it comes to high quality. So what does the future hold for vintage? A lot, I expect!