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Vintage Values
Victoria Benn, Features Writer
Items from House of Rose and Brown's 'Vintage in Wonderland' fair at Cliffe Castle last year
The world of vintage clothes and homewares has exploded.

Creativity, individuality and a wicked palate of colour and pattern - more often than not at a reasonable price - has transformed Yorkshire into a veritable vintage mecca!

Rewind to the turn of this century and there was no such thing as 'vintage' as a lifestyle and shopping concept. Clothes and homewares were invariably either 'second-hand' or 'antique', and for the ordinary person there didn't appear to be many gradations within that.

As a student in the pre-Primark late 80s it was de rigueur to rummage through the charity shops (and the very rare second hand clothes and 'costume' shops) hunting for a few cast offs that would inject glamour, style and a little uniqueness into a budget wardrobe - but as common parlance went, such purchases were never attributed the prestige and pizzazz of a 'vintage' label. That came later.

Items at the Saltaire Vintage Shop
Caroline Brown, co-owner of The House of Rose and Brown was one of the fore runners in Yorkshire's vintage scene, "My inspiration came from a duo called Sally Woodhead and Sam Makin who ran - what I believe to be - Yorkshire's first vintage fair at the Queen's Hotel in Leeds, aptly called the Leeds Vintage Fashion Fair, which they started back in 2003. The concept just seemed such an exciting and unique idea, and I remember their fairs being huge bustling events with amazing stock and a real buzz about them."

"I was already a collector and seeing what they accomplished inspired me, so in 2007 I had my first stall at one of their fairs. I'd planned to spend a few years writing a business plan for a shop but incredibly an opportunity arose, so my first shop - which is now known as the Saltaire Vintage Shop - came into being in 2007, swiftly followed by my first Vintage Home and Fashion Fair at the Victoria Hall in Saltaire later that same year.

"This was the first fair of its kind to retail vintage homewares alongside fashion. I believed the community and the unique atmosphere in Saltaire would welcome the vintage scene, and I was right as the shop and my fairs are still going strong all these years later."

The continuously escalating charm and appeal of shopping vintage lies in the fact that there is, literally, something for everyone. With decades and eras stretching back to the 1920s, shoppers can access an enormous variety of decorative and functional items ranging from the stylish geometric forms of the Art Deco movement, to the functional and often chintzy homespun wares of the 1940s, to the vibrant and chic furnishings of the 1960s and 70s. In terms of fashion, there are styles, silhouettes and fabrics to suit every shape, every gender and every lifestyle.

Shopping vintage also creates scope and opportunity for people to curate their home environment or re-style their wardrobe. Hand crafted ceramics and glassware, original artwork, Scandinavian designed furniture - for a reasonable price - means that people can collect rare and unique pieces that reflect their personality as well as their budget. With growing access to vintage fashion, homewares and furniture - choice, style and exclusivity are available to everyone; they are no longer just the privilege of the wealthy.

The Vintage Home and Fashion Fair at the Victoria Hall in Saltaire
A further advantage of shopping vintage are its 'green' credentials. For Claire Walton co-owner of Yorkshire Vintage Fairs, growing up in the antiques and salvage world developed her passion for the value of re-using and re-purposing things.

"The old adage 'one man's trash can be another man's treasure' is so true, and when you start to look at the world like that it is amazing the possibilities you discover; at vintage fairs you not only see fabulous objects and clothes being simply recycled as intended, but you also come across some wonderful things that people have re-created from things that others have thrown away; rugs, bags, lampshades, garden furniture, shelving. The list is endless!"

Where established vintage shops, such as Saltaire Vintage and Space Harrogate offer a fascinating and constantly changing array of vintage wares and clothes, the sheer scale of the fairs ramps up the fun factor tenfold. Clothes and looks are modelled by stall holders and shoppers alike, vintage vinyl is played on 1960s Dansette turntables, and resin and fibreglass Shattaline lamps glow with their stunning orange and turquoise hues.

Also by Victoria Benn...
Vintage Fairs - Best And Brightest In Yorkshire
Grassington Festival Is Just A Week Away...
On the Shoulders of Giants, With Raphael Wallfisch
Grassington Festival 2016: First Headline Acts Announced
Testament Of Youth - Shirley Williams
Very often live music, and vintage hair and beauty are served up alongside the 'mocktails', cocktails and cakes. The whole experience becomes more than an afternoon out; but a full assault on the senses.

The also growing trend for 1940s events, such as those at Grassington, Haworth or Appletreewick further heighten the impression of a bygone era being brought to life, offering tea dances and military displays and re-enactments alongside their vintage market stalls and cafes.

The Yorkshire Times aims in the weeks and months to come to keep you up to date with some of the vintage fairs and events being organised across the region.

Each week Lifestyle will feature a preview of the brightest and the best vintage fairs on offer that weekend, with written and photographic reviews added where possible the following week.
Vintage Values, 13th March 2017, 11:19 AM