It feels like I have been to SO many vintage fairs and events over the years (longer than I care to remember, in fact!) I truly love going to them, and I generally have a lot of fun checking out the fantastic fashion from the sixties and soaking up the atmosphere.
However, not all vintage events have been so enjoyable! Some have been a letdown, like fairs with fewer traders than advertised.
A handful, however, have been downright shocking. Here are a couple of the most notable horror stories associated with my retro roaming.
(Names and certain details withheld to protect the innocent and not-so-innocent…)
I was on Facebook recently when I saw details of a vintage kilo sale in Leeds city centre. It was at a rather upmarket location which normally housed posh dinners and designer clothes. Of course, it was one I’d walked past a lot of times but never visited. The page gave a link to where you could buy kilos in advance, as well as pay for entry.
At this point, alarm bells didn’t ring – it did seem a little strange that the organisers were asking people to pay the entry fee in advance, with no option to pay at the door. With all the fairs I’ve been to, people can have the choice of either-or. I brushed away my misgivings, assuming that it was just because of the size of the venue. I clicked on the link, and paid my £1.50 by debit card.
Luckily (bearing in mind what transpired) I decided not to pay £12 for a kilo upfront. As it was an organiser I’d never come across before, I thought what they meant by ‘vintage’ might be different to my definition. Would there be a chance of finding any 1960s treasure, or would it be all lumberjack shirts and Levis?
The day came, and I arrived at the venue in good time. No sign on the door saying there was a kilo sale today, but I opened the door anyway.
It was locked. Shut. And there was no doorbell.
So I walked around the back of the building to see if there was another way in. None whatsoever.
I went back onto the Facebook event page to check whether it had been cancelled or moved, but the page appeared to have been deleted!
Running out of ideas, I even tried checking out the Events page on the venue’s website – nothing. As a last resort, I rang the venue to see if anyone was around – bear in mind that this was a Sunday! All I got an automated message saying their answering machine was full.
I got the message too, and came home.
Trying to get to the bottom of it, I searched Google and found that there was meant to have been a kilo sale organised by them the day before in another city – this was down as ‘cancelled’. Future events all over the country (though noticeably not the one in Leeds) had also been cancelled.
Finally, I messaged the organisers through the page selling the tickets (which hadn’t been taken down) to find out what had happened. To date, I have not received a reply.
And to this day, I have no idea what happened. Was it a scam to get people to hand over money upfront for nowt? Did the venue even know there was going to be an event that day? It truly was a mystery…
You call this ‘vintage’?!
Last year, I was back in London for the weekend. On my itinerary, there was a new-to-me vintage shop I’d heard about online. With promises of regular ‘£1 sales’ and items ranging from the 1960s to the 1990s, I was looking forward to checking it out.
The shop was not easy to get to. I got lost several times around East London, walking in the wrong direction and having to constantly check Google Maps for help. At one point, the map led me through a park!
Finally, I got to the shop. Tucked away within a small semi-industrial unit, the yellow sign was full of promise. I stepped forward full of anticipation.
As soon as I turned the corner, I was speechless. My first encounter was with rails of jumpers and denim jackets outside – they looked like items that had been rejected from a charity shop. Stained, torn, dirty – they looked like utter tat.
Things didn’t get any better when I walked into the unit. Some of the ‘vintage’ stuff advertised had labels that looked all too familiar to those on today’s High Street. Quite a few items didn’t even look as if they’d been inspired by vintage fashions.
When I finally found something that looked decent quality – a black and white gingham shirt – I was full of relief.
The relief seeped away when I got to the light. Closer inspection of the shirt found it had little rust marks at the yoke.
In short, there was nothing at the shop that could be salvaged or recrafted using my level of sewing skill. I left empty-handed and disappointed. And I got lost getting back to the tube station…
Not all vintage events are the same – some can be hugely disappointing, as well as costing time and money. Unfortunately, the popularity of vintage has attracted some less-than-scrupulous people who only want to make a few quid out of it before moving onto the next big thing.
On a happier note, have a look of these reviews of some of my favourite events:
Have you had any nightmares at a vintage event? Share your experiences in the comments box below!