Thursday, 30 September 2010

Another Birmingham vintage fair...

First comes an apology for being a shocking blogger (I'm also covering myself for the next couple of weeks here too!), but with the start of uni, a new job and shocking internet at my new accomm (are you reading Rooms4every1?) I've had a lot on my plate, which is quite ironic since I've pretty much been on the breadline.

Now I have my glorious student loan, I can get stuck into my shopping habit; however with the return of the student crowd, my internet has become non- existent in my new flat, something to do with about 20 people logging on to the same shitty internet.

All is not lost though; today I've been hooked up with Virgin Media's finest broadband (okay, the cheapest), which should be installed on the 16th October (bloody student peak season!).

So at this fine moment I'm sat on one of my uni's library computers, writing out this post. Nice to see that we've got some brand new iMacs- all of which are out of order. Quel surprise BCU...

Anyway, on Saturday I felt obliged to pop down to Birmingham's vintage fair- even in my brassic, pre-loan state.

Having worked the night before, teamed with an extremely hungover tag-a-long, I didn't manage to make it to the Custard Factory until 4pm- and yes, it finished at 5.

I'm unsure whether what I was met with was merely a result of my lateness, or whether the fair was generally not as good as it has been in the past.

The Old Library where the fair is held was distinctly emptier this time around; I was astounded by the amount of floor space- enough room to swing several cats.

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Looking pretty empty

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The prices seemed to have been jacked up even higher too. It was clear that vintage items fitting in with current trends were being flogged for all they were worth, and some.

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These scarves weren't too pricey though

I saw an old aviator jacket for £75! It was huge, very similar to one of my Dad's I found at home, and I doubt many girls could've carried it off.

I had been lucky enough to find a tenner on a table the night before and took it as a sign from some greater force that I should go to the fair and buy something fabulous.

I struggled to find anything other than jewellery for under £10- oh so disappointing. I resigned myself to making do with a delicious cupcake, but found that these had all gone too!

(note to organisers: these sell out everytime, sort it out please!)

At least the £1 entry fee hadn't changed...

COW

I also spotted the new COW whilst in Birmingham's city centre. It's one door away from Urban Outfitters (very crafty placement COW).

I haven't been in yet but it looked pretty impressive. It looked fairly big for a second shop and was definitely prettier and better decorated.

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May have a nosey on Thursday.

Foxy,
x
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Friday, 24 September 2010

Adventure down south

So waaay back on the 5th September, I headed to Landan town to stay with a friend for the duration of my week's work experience with Mizz magazine- in Tunbridge Wells.

Quite a set-up having to get down to London, to travel to Tunbridge Wells but at least that way I could stay somewhere for free, even if it did cost me £12 a day to commute- cheaper than Travelodge for sure!

London is a shopping paradise, that's a given, but a (severe) lack of funds and time meant that I didn't really have an opportunity to make some great purchases.

So, because it's pretty disappointing, I'll get my London observations out of the way now.

I was staying in central Covent Garden (rather swish, I know) and unfortunately only had time to quickly pop into the two vintage shops near where I was staying.

Blackout II

The nearest was Blackout II, which was literally a few doors away.


Blackout II is the embodiment of the expression, 'quality over quantity'. A small shop, although according to the website it has an upstairs (missed that one), it's like an Aladdin's cave filled to the brim with vintage bits and pieces.

The window display
I found the selection of bags and hats most impressive. They were mostly high quality accessories from the 20s to 50s- a far cry from some of the stuff you usually find in COW.

As the shop was really small, I couldn't really take any pictures inside so here's a photo of some of the hats taken from their website:


These were kept on mismatched vintage mannequin heads on a shelf which ran around the whole shop. The effect really was fantastic.

Picture also courtesy of Blackout II online
The jewellery was impressive too. There was tons of costume jewellery covering the surface by the till- if brooches and clip on earrings are your thing, this is the place to go!

Blackout II's selection of clothes were something to behold too. You could describe the shop as 'proper' vintage- everything is of high quality as is generally older than the stock of most bigger vintage shops.

Women's clothing was mainly pretty daydresses from the 40s and 50s and were priced around the £40 mark- well worth paying for the quality.

They also had quite a good stock of evening dresses which could be hired out too.

If you're fed up of warehouse-style vintage stores choc-a-block with gear reminiscent of C&A in the 80s; It's well worth squeezing yourself around Blackout II's tightly packed space.

Rokit

I also spotted Covent Garden's Rokit store on the walk back to my accomm (didn't realise that there are 4 at the time!).


Rokit have a pretty strong online follwing as they sell through their website too, so I was already aware of the brand and was dying to take a look.

The first day I made it back from Tunbridge Wells early enough to catch them before closing I was straight in there.

In a funny sort of way, it was more depressing browsing the rails in Rokit than it was at Blackout II, even though Rokit was the cheaper vintage shop.

I guess because I know it's the sort of place I could usually afford to shop at, but as I have zero monies, I couldn't indulge my habit.

Rokit is very reasonably priced- well, most items are. I thought the denim jackets were quite expensive at around £45 (my vintage Levi jackets both cost under a tenner); however most of the clothes were pretty cheap.

I thought the shoes in particular were very good value- they were mostly under £15 in the sale and there were loads to choose from.

I decided that if I'd had a spare tenner, I would've bought one of the awesome gold animal rings displayed in a big cabinet.

I'm sure they were £10 in the shop, but the website tells me otherwise at £15. I think this tiger one is my fave.


I might order one soon, but I reckon there's loads of these knocking about as they're most likely cheap vintage deadstock costume jewellery.

ebay?

Foxy x
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Saturday, 18 September 2010

If I were a rich (wo)man...

As I think I mentioned before, I've been busy compiling an autumn/winter trend report for Brum Notes magazine.

I decided that for the most part, it'd be easier to physically go shopping to find pieces that I wanted to include. So on Wednesday that's just what I did.

Easier? yes. Enjoyable? Not really.

When you're poor (definition of my poverty is £20 to last a month until student loan arrives) shopping is no fun, people. It's bad enough having others around you rave on about the new season's clothes, but having to go out and painstakingly choose the pieces you like best yourself without being able to buy anything is pure torture.

Feeling sorry for myself aside; the key trends I selected to write about (which I deemed suitable for the magazine's readers) were: Knitwear, Fur, Camel, Leopard Print, Lace/Velvet, Country and Military.

The main reason for my outing was to check out some independant shops, mainly vintage, where I wouldn't be able to see the stock online.

First off, I wandered up to Birmingham's Oasis Market to see what their vintage department had to offer. The first thing that struck me was their display opposite the entrance. Military-inspired no less, complete with gas masks, camoflage- the whole shebang. They also had furs and quilted jackets prominently on display- these guys have clearly been reading their Vogues.

Shitty phone image- but a taste of the military display in the vintage shop @ Oasis Market
 Next on my list was COW. I expected COW to pretty much have everything covered, but it was the knitwear selection I wanted to size up in particular.

Chunky knits are where it's at this season and the best kinds are adorned with kitsch Nordic and Fairisle patterns- so vintage knitwear should definitely deliver. COW didn't disappoint; their knitwear selection was the best of the vintage shops I saw- if only for the sheer quantity of it. Shoppers are certainly spoiled for choice.

Whilst in COW, I also browsed the sale rail and checked out the bargain bag bin in the hope of finding something cheap enough to justify purchasing.

I came away with this velvety, er, thing. I think the velvet justified me buying it as I guess it's on trend; although I think I may have had my rose-tinted bargain specs on because I'm not entirely sure I like it or if I'll even be wearing it! Only 3 quid though.


The outer velvety fabric is black and the blue and black stripy bit in the middle is attached. The top is by Triumph International- which I know as an underwear brand (same logo), hmmm...


What do you think?

Next on the list was Urban Village as I wanted to take a look at their Barbour jackets. The brand has gained increased popularity with the rise of the 'country' trend- as well as extra exposure at this year's festivals.

Fearne Cotton at the Isle of Wight festival this year, rocking a classic Barbour jacket (picture courtesy of glamourmagazine.co.uk)
If you're looking for a vintage Barbour jacket in Birmingham, this is the place to go. UV stock a pretty good selection, with the prices I saw ranging between £35-£45.

If you fancy splashing your cash on a new one, try A Too Menswear on Ethel St. Obviously they just stock jackets in the menswear dept. but I reckon they look better- a lot more choice too.

After UV, I decided to walk through the Custard Factory to the shop's old home by the lake to check out the 'General Stores' (home to extra vintage sellers once sharing the same building as UV). To my surprise the shop had disappeared! Well, the building was still there but the stuff in side wasn't.

Before walking off, I spotted a sign for another vintage shop (I've forgotten the name!) and with a quick glance back round I spotted it- just a few doors down.

The owner was very lovely and chatty. She greeted me by saying she loved my jumper (she knits and sells very similar ones) and was shocked when I confessed that it only cost £3 (or could've been 2, I forget).

My bargain chunky knitted jumper, which I usually style with this skinny leather belt, knotted
 I told her that it was from this weird sort of warehouse sale in Digbeth and she knew where I meant right away.

This is what I'm talking about, it's called 'Credit Crunchers' I think. It's just by the 'Fancy Silk Store' (of course you're all aware of that!)


The lady from the vintage shop told me that the woman from Credit Crunchers had started selling unwanted clothes but has since cottoned-on to the vintage racket and was now slapping hefty price tags on her stuff.

Curious about this, I popped in to see what was going down. They were closing when I got there (nobody I know would describe me as an early bird) but I was let inside nonetheless. I went to the corner where I'd found my jumper and could only see jumble sale-esque clobber.

The man who let me in then ushered me over to the area near the till where there were more clothes, clearly thinking he knew what I was after. Low and behold, some slighty better looking half-vintage clothes (I say half because most of the things I saw were 90s cast-offs at best). Yet here they were, shielded behind the till and roped off as if they were precious antiques in a museum- nothing carried any prices on either. The lady at the vintage shop told me that she'd asked the price of a stained jacket and was told £50- I didn't bother enquiring about anything.

Perez eat your heart out...

I also obtained a little bit of showbiz gossip on my outing; though I doubt OK! are going to be ringing off the hook for this one- it excited me (a bit) in any case...

Yeah so the lovely woman from the vintage shop also sells on the Vintage Flea at the Custard factory on a Saturday. She said that last Saturday, she was chatting with someone from the X Factor who spent over £100 there on outfits to wear on the show (she'd just completed Boot Camp).

Now, from what she told me: 'a black girl who sang soul stuff, I thought she was really good but Simon gave her a tough time', my best guess is that she meant Birmingham's Kirsty Reeve who ended up singing Valerie by the Zutons (or Amy Winehouse, take your pick).

Believe it or not, the best picture I could find! (Digital Spy)

So look out for this girl wearing some Birmingham-sourced vintage gear! Oh and go and support the lady I mentioned's new shop, she's great!

Sorry for such a long-winded post too, it's been awhile!

x
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Monday, 13 September 2010

Supermarket sweep

Just a quick one.

I'm currently doing some research for an Autumn/Winter trend report I'm doing for Brum Notes magazine and thought I'd share something.

Camel is undoubtedly a trend which has taken the season by storm- in particular, the coveted 'camel coat'. I've been doing some research into the best on the high street and I can't believe how good some of the supermarket clothing ranges are!

Usually you won't see me wheeling my trolling through the clothing aisles but I might think twice after seeing these offerings...

A mere £35 from George @ Asda 


The coat by George, above, looks rather more expensive than the price suggests.
Belted camel coat from Tu @ Sainsbury's, £55

I LOVE the Tu coat above. I'm not one for wearing every trend that's in fashion; it's a shame that camel coats aren't really my thing- if they were I'd definitely be choosing that one!

Well done supermarkets of the UK, you've surpassed yourselves- keep it up!

And, I realise I haven't yet posted about my time in London and Tunbridge Wells from last week; I've been busy, yeah.
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Saturday, 4 September 2010

A day in Sutton Coldfield

Today I fancied a trip out so decided to visit Sutton Coldfield- a town north of Birmingham. Sutton Coldfield, so I heard, has quite a few charity shops so I thought I'd go have a mosey around.

Now, a day out is me being a little over ambitious; it was more like two hours. Mainly because I slept in, then forgot to use my Young Person's Railcard, so I'd be damned if I was going to fork out for an Anytime Return! (This makes more sense if you already assumed that I took the train- you now know).

Photos may not be so great because I forgot my camera- these were taken on my not-so-brilliant phone. Although I did find it easier to take sneaky pictures on my mobile, you can pretend to be texting which stops you looking like some sick voyeur!

I'm probably the worst person in the world at navigation, my satnav even takes a sarcastic tone with me ("I've said turn around when possible six times now...") , so finding my way around somewhere unbeknown to me is quite a task you're asking.

So having got off the train and trotted off into Sutton Coldfield in the wrong direction, I quickly realised (a good 10 minutes) that there was noting much about and that I needed to find the centre. I followed some groups of kids milling around and was lead right to some railings in the centre of town where some more miserable teenagers were loitering about- oh and chucking things at passers by.

In fact, that's what probably surprised me most about Sutton Coldfield- there were so many teenagers hanging about! If I had a quid for every midriff on show and bumfluff-chinned child I saw, I'd be laughing all the way to the bank. Coincidently this didn't happen, and I wasn't laughing.

I don't know where I got the idea that Sutton Coldfield was a pensioners haven- but I was wrong. Sadly, this is the main reason I went! I expected the charity shops to be filled with lots of granny-esque cast offs. Strangely though, I did see some such old ladys selling their wares.

In the centre of town today was some kind of street market (I wasn't aware that this was going on prior to going- a pleasant surprise). It was sort of like a mini car boot sale; most of the sellers were older people selling their antiques and old jewellery- right up my street. Though the gear was quite pricey; these folk were clearly clued up and had read their share of Miller's guides.

The street market


Earrings for sale. 80s clip-on heaven

Onto the charity shops. Now, if you take a look at this map I've put together you'll see the charity shops (as listed by google) in Sutton Coldfield. I think I hit all of these today, apart from The British Heart Foundation, which I can't comprehend the location even looking at the map, and also the Severn Trent Trust Fund.


View Sutton Coldfield- Charity Shops in a larger map

I've also added the Walsall Hospice charity shop to my map. Google won't admit it exists, but it was there! I've guessed the location, I think it was between Oxfam and the Birmingham Settlement charity shop. You can't be sure with my memory, but it might help.

I wanted to mention the Walsall Hospice shop because I thought it was a particularly good one. I nearly bought a bag in there but resisted. There was also a great vintage brush and mirror set for £4.something, gold setting with a floral design- very pretty. The shop has quite a bit of furniture too- if you're after an old armchair this is the place!

Oxfam was a bit of a let down, as I'm often finding these days. It's got very overpriced; my Mum was in an Oxfam today too because she saw a vintage suitcase in the window and thought I might like it- it turned out to be £48! She also spotted a short leather jacket in there for £150, madness!

The Birmingham Settlement shop was good however. I bought this tapestry bag for £1.


I'm not sure it's really my cup of tea- I'm not really into brown clothes or accessories. So this one might be a buy to sell on, hopefully I'll make a profit!


I also bought this cream leather skinny belt for £1.


It's quite long, which is what I wanted so that I can wrap it around and tie it like a boyfriend-style belt. I love that it's such an old, worn belt- the leather's really cracked and battered.


Happy shopping.
x

P.S Oh yeah, and I'm in London next week to do some work experience at Mizz magazine so it's highly unlikely that there'll be any posts. There will probably be plenty afterwards though so stay tuned! 
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Wednesday, 1 September 2010

The sun has got his hat on, hooray hooray hoor- NO!

So those of you in England may have noticed that the weather was rather pleasant today (something I observed on my trip from North Yorkshire to Birmingham- I don't know about anywhere else). Was I pleased about this? No I bloody wasn't!

Upon arriving back in England, after my holiday, I was greeted with torrential rain and a bitter coldness which my holiday/home transition outfit didn't appreciate one little bit. So much for August being the height of summer ey?

So now we reach September, the weather should have deteriorated even more right? Wrong! And I'd just resigned myself to embracing the new A/W clothes and banishing my holiday clothes to the back of my wardrobe. I was also dying to wear my new (well, old really) car booted faux fur coat.


Alas, it wasn't meant to be, so I ended up sat on my suitcase for ten minutes trying to stuff the damn thing inside it.

So once I was stripped of my precious coat, I realised something; I've never featured this top before- it's literally my favouritest ever! I think.


It's from Urban Village, Birmingham. I got it in the sale they had before their move to the new shop. I couldn't believe that it was only £2!

The fit is great, it's like an oversized t-shirt but in fabulous soft material. I have no idea where it's from originally though as there's no label.

The sleeves are quite big and floaty, which adds a bit of interest and makes it that bit more special than a conventional t-shirt. It's got a little keyhole detail at the neck on the back and there's also some ruche detail on the shoulders.

Worn with my vintage levi shorts (cut from jeans)- charity shop

The thing I like about it most is probably the print. It's so pretty, and almost looks like a watercolour painting.


And even minus the coat, I was still roasting in my black opaques! That's what you get for falling out with summer and not taking any suitable clothes up North!

There was no way I was going bare-legged either; not due to hot pants + cellulite issues (I'm still in holiday mode so none of that matters- who needs clear tights!), no, it was my reptilian-like pins that are shedding skin at an alarming rate I was worried about- where's that aftersun!?

x
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