Vintage shopping, a retail experience that isn’t for everyone. Shopping of this nature requires a different approach to find the real diamonds in the rough, you need to know the best places to determine what is true vintage and what is mass-produced tat. I have grown to love vintage shopping; clothing, jewellery or furniture (not shoes - creeps me the f**k out). There is nothing I love more than looking at pieces that have a story to tell; did someone get married in those lace gloves? Did a famous person drink tea out of that teapot? Or more than likely, who popped their clogs in that frock?
A nuance of vintage shopping is there is always an ‘aroma’ that you don’t get in most shops. I can only describe it as a musty old-world smell, occasionally with a whiff of a corpse but you sharp get over that, as I say on a daily basis to many divvies that cross my path: stop being a fanny. I fell in love with vintage in my early twenties, watching Carrie Bradshaw (you knew that was coming) at Century 21 scouring the racks of vintage potential filled me with fashion hope. After watching one episode in particular I googled the shit out of this skirt (see below), for days, only to find out it was couture Vivienne Westwood, from 1983… and (dramatic pause) there was a winter version with sheepskin, after two years of searching I found her and still (obscenely at my age) wear her with joy, she is affectionately named Viv, I will be buried in her so no one else can have her as she cost more than my first car, wouldn’t part with her for the world, I'm just pleased she can’t talk.
For this post, I visited some of the most popular vintage spots in the North East, all views are my own so sorry (not sorry) if anything causes offence.
The Yesterday Society, Grainger Market, Newcastle
A little pocket of what can only be described as ‘proper vintage’. Rachael, the owner, who is an absolute lushness of a human, describes the Yesterday society as an ‘Aladdin’s cave packed to the rafters with vintage and retro clothing and accessories for men and women.’ which is true. There isn’t a bit of space that doesn’t have something to look at, there is a range of sizes and styles and everything is affordable. It's mostly clothes and accessories but there were some amazing little bits tucked away, including my new ornamental matching dog ornaments who I've affectionately named ‘Andrew and Michael’. Make the most of Rachael too (in a nice way) she knows her stock inside out and as soon as I said my tastes and era she picked out the most stunning pussy-bow blouse which I would’ve snapped up had it not been a little too big, what a shocker that I couldn’t fill the chest, hold the front page (again).
Flea Circus, Warwick Street, Newcastle
I had heard lots of great things about Flea Circus, sandwiched between Jesmond and the Ouseburn in the increasingly trendy Sandyford where all the cool kats and kittens like to hang out, I was excited to visit. Self-described as; ‘The Ouseburn’s one-stop-shop for vintage furniture, fashion, household goods, comics, collectables, geek chic, ceramics, prints, cards, and more’ it delivered, which was apparent as soon as I walked in the door. I didn’t anticipate however, how cool the staff were, painfully too cool to acknowledge my existence when I asked a couple of questions it looked like their coolness was paining them, maybe I'm not edgy enough? I mean I was wearing a frock that was made from a fucking parachute what more did they want? Aside from that, I loved it here, there was so much to look at and I still have little things that are on my mind that I hope are still there on my return next weekend, particularly some of the furniture pieces. Make sure that you leave a big chunk of time to visit here, there is so much to see and you need to take your time so you don’t miss anything whether it be a sideboard or a full set of ninja turtle action figures, cowabunga dude. An absolute must-see for me.
Tynemouth Market, Tynemouth Station (Saturday 9.30am-3pm)
Oddly despite this market being very notable and being a vintage fan it is somewhere I haven’t been for several years. It was a sunny day and as the market was outdoors there was no need for a face covering which made things feel a little more leisurely, all the other regulations are still in place. The ambience of the market is fabulous and has a real local feel, there are some amazing vintage finds here especially if you are into vinyl, war memorabilia or ornaments, as well as many nice things to eat including 'Cookie Freaks' being my fav, but get in quick as they sell out by lunchtime. The stall owners are a little community, chatty and friendly but not pushy. I liked it here, a lot. My friend picked up an amazing piece of art for me here last year featuring 12 taxidermy bugs, I love it, not for everyone though. One caveat here to be aware of is that there is a lot of non-vintage tat, I mean I didn’t bust a gut to find a parking space and drive to the coast to get a plastic sieve that was sitting lonely next to a one-eyed Care Bear. You have been warned.
There are so many places that I didn’t get to go to because of current restrictions or that they mainly have an online presence but are also absolute dreamboats of the vintage world in the North East that I couldn't leave out, so have given you a little snippet below.
Established by Louisa Rodgers who has the most amazing eye, she makes my fashion and style eyes look like they need bifocals and a massive plasters to cover my left eye. She has been sourcing vintage since Uni, which when you see this European babe you would think was only yesterday. The Trendlstr collection is what dreams are made of as well as the bonus of some vintage-inspired new treats including collars and masks that have been upcycled, divine. Check out Trendlstr at https://www.trendlistr.com/
Fine fettle furniture
Located in South Shields this absolute beaut of a restoration company is ideal if you want the vintage look without the rickety feel. Fine fettle restores beautiful pieces of furniture from the 1950s, 60’s and 70’s. There is only one catch, you have to be quick, seems like everyone has their eye on this place and the pieces get snapped up, I have become a bit of a stalker and check daily as I’m desperate for some new drawers, like actually, that was not a shit dad joke. You can find Fine Fettle at https://www.finefettlefurniture.com/shop
Found and curated
Helen (founder and owner) is another local hun that has sourced a wearable collection of vintage delights that you are daft in the head if you don’t have a look. From Italian tailored blazers, silk blouses or reworked vintage blouses there is a little something for everyone and she is an all-round nice vintage lady, so if there is anything that you fancy she will give you some extra information regarding fabric, fit, you get the drill just drop her a line on Instagram. I currently have my eye on this dreamy ivory pleated midi skirt (love it in red too) and have just emailed her about the fit, see, I do practice what I preach. Have a look at Found and curated at https://www.foundandcuratedvintage.co.uk/
So, that brings me to the end of my whistle-stop tour of some of the most popular local vintage haunts of the Newcastle area, I have loved doing the post as it has given me the excuse to do even more shopping, smell that lovely vintage smell (not for everyone) and buy a few little gems such as Andrew and Michael. My top piece of advice would be to always buy it when you see it in a vintage store, not getting a dress from The Way We Wore' from 1942 or the Cabbage patch doll phone are right up there with the time the man from NASA accidentally taped over the only recording of the moon-landing, in fact mine are both worse. And the best bit is it's unique, you’re not going to bump into someone wearing the same thing or recognising your outfit from a shop, unless of course, it was their dead granny’s.