Past and presence

Sam and Alex
Sam and Alex
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York Does Vintage offers a platform for independent retro fashion specialists. Bethany Armitage meets the owners.

With the current trend for make do and mend rather than spend, spend, spend, many people are ditching their jobs in 
search of the good life.

Whether you are quick-fingered with a pair of knitting needles or have got a certain finesse for furniture making, your skills could be far more profitable than you may realise.

Sam de la Tour, of York-based vintage company Now and Then Events, knows this all too well, and is witnessing a steady rise in the number of independent traders on her books.

She and her co-founder Alex Claydon have built up a successful name for themselves in Yorkshire thanks to their interactive handmade and vintage events.

With free Lindy Hop dancing classes, cake decorating workshops, stamp making, jewellery design and even the chance to have your hair and make-up done at a vintage beauty bar, they are eager to highlight creative talents.

“Nowadays a lot of people are turning their hobbies into businesses, because more people are getting made redundant or find it very difficult to get a job,” Sam explained.

“We find that a lot more people are actually starting up their own businesses, looking at their interests and thinking about selling them online or attending craft fairs and events.”

This harks back to an emphasis on good quality fashion, with pieces that are often bespoke and amended to fit the wearer, making a welcome change from the High Street dress size gamble.

To set up your own stall you need not be an aspiring fashion designer, however, as long as you know the basics. Sam says: “Obviously being able to sew on a button, or zip might be quite useful.”

Vintage fashion does not have to feel dated either, and Sam went on to say that it is actually the vintage-inspired clothes which are proving to be the most popular. This includes traders like Linda Stead, who runs the stall From Vintage to Vogue. Most of her clothes are taken from vintage patterns and include a variety of skirts and dresses, which have each been amended to suit modern shapes and tastes. Speaking at the From Yorkshire With Love event earlier this month at the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall in York, she said: “I try to take styles from all decades but I found that people like ’50s styles and so I’ve just gone back to ’50s styles. They seem to appeal to everybody.”

When it comes to vintage pieces, you can choose to incorporate them into your everyday outfits or use statement garments to really stand out.

Sam said: “We find that a lot of people might not necessarily want to buy the clothes, but they’ll pick up a vintage scarf or bag and then they’ll get addicted and see what sort of elements they can add into their wardrobes.”

Now and Then Events and their Britain Does Vintage days are becoming extremely popular, gaining a large following from shoppers and local traders. They have just been nominated for three Visit York awards. They aim to appeal to the whole family, including husbands and boyfriends. The dynamic duo are introducing a men’s corner, where men can sit and watch vintage football and rugby matches from pre-1989, while enjoying a pint and a pork pie.

Beginning with the York Does Vintage events in 2011 and now branching out into From Yorkshire With Love, which focuses on not only fashion but also handmade and craft items, the region continues to be a thriving place for such business.

Ellen Davies, who works alongside Alex and Sam, said that York in particular is embracing all things vintage.

“It’s got a lot of history in it and it’s coming up in vintage terms. York itself is really trying to become independent and places like this are fantastic for stallholders, who perhaps wouldn’t have survived in stores,” she explained.

Finalists in the Visit York Best Shopping Experience 2012 and the Local Business Accelerators Award 2013, the girls are expanding their offerings with a diverse range of locations and events.

This includes an appearance at the YO1 Festival on May 5 at the Knavesmire in York, and events in Durham, Newcastle, Harrogate and Cambridge.

The next York Does Vintage event takes place on April 7 at the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall in York.

For more information, check out www.yorkdoesvintage.co.uk.