Vintage Fashion – The fear of second-hand clothing

Would you dare to wear what’s been worn before?

I always find myself wondering into Vintage stores in aim to find something unique with a hint of ‘wow factor’. The individuality element of Vintage clothing is what entices me to want to buy it, as to me there is nothing worse than the speculation that another female could walk side-by-side you in the exact same garment.

My Vintage store shopping experience usually consists of me searching through rails and rails of clothing with my arm aching and my head overloading with questions, “is the quality good enough?”, “will this suit or fit me?”, in desperate hope to find something eye-catching, pre-worn yet must look perfectly brand new. So why is it that I put myself through such frustration to buy something that has previously been worn and some of the time costs as much as new, unworn items of clothing from High Street Stores? To be quite frank when looking at Vintage items of clothing the thought that they have been worn before never really crosses my mind. However, when a friend or even a family member offers me an item of clothing to wear or asks can they borrow mine I shiver with sheer discomfort. Maybe this explains why in my lifetime, I have actually only ever bought two pieces of Vintage clothing, it could be my subconscious mind screaming “I have been worn by another person” whilst I hunt through the Vintage pieces.

With this pondering on my ever so busy mind, I decided I wanted to see the opinions of the public on Vintage fashion, mainly to discover if people buy it and if not, why don’t they? To gather data I created a survey, which has now closed, using Google Drive and posted it on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, in which I received exactly 200 responses much to my delight. The responses that interested me most were to the question, “If you don’t buy vintage clothing, why not?” in which 127 people answered.

However, I have decided to focus specifically on the responses from females as their answers will best relate to my current discussion. To my surprise a whopping 98 females responded that they do not buy Vintage clothing, with 54 confessing the reason they don’t is because they “don’t like the thought of wearing second-hand clothing“. Concluding that it is not only me who holds the fear of wearing something someone has worn before. Phew!

If you don't buy Vintage clothing, why not?

Pretty in pink! My first purchase from Mary & Milly

Pretty in pink! My first purchase from Mary & Milly

I have always felt that I would never be able to buy something from a Vintage boutique that I could see myself comfortably wearing over and over again like I do with my usual high street items. Well, this was my thought until I discovered Mary & Milly, a Vintage/Classic clothing stall that pays my University’s Students’ Union a weekly visit.

Mary & Milly

The first item I purchased from the stall was a pretty pink dress with flared laced arms. Walking through UCLan’s SU, my eyes glared at it from a far and I just knew I had to buy it. A dress, oozing with Vintage style yet completely brand new, my prayers had been answered. Instantly, I wanted to uncover the story behind the brand and find out what made the owner come up with such a brilliant idea. I therefore arranged to meet with owner, Poppy Waters who is from Preston, to discuss her stall further. Poppy reveals below how her brand was first inspired.

Who would have thought it, a brand completely inspired by the differences in styles of two grandmothers? The journey of Mary & Milly first began when Poppy, a former Fashion and Marketing student at UCLan, arranged a University event in December 2011. Since then, the stall can now be accessed on-line at ASOS Marketplace and visits three Universities weekly them being, UCLan, Lancaster and Edge Hill - the locations of these Universities can be accessed through the given hyper-links. Moreover, Poppy expressed how she would love to eventually own her own store, but insisted that she would “still be looking to do the pop-up shops as they work really well and spread the brand name further.” Two ways in which Mary & Milly currently spread their name is through social networking, be sure to follow their Twitter, @MaryandMilly, and ‘like’ their Facebook for consistent updates.

With the Mary & Milly stall mainly visiting Universities and students typically being renown for their ‘financial difficulties’ – I would know – I wanted to find out how profit varied across the three bases and where would she say received the ‘best’ profit. Poppy stated, “It all depends on the time of year so when student loans come in the Universities do really well. Also, ASOS Marketplace is busier around pay day and it is extremely busy at the moment as it’s leading up to Christmas. I therefore could not pick a base where profit outdoes the other.” She continued, “I also hold home parties which have become increasingly popular and have been a real success. They are consistently great as people are booking to buy and it makes shopping really fun yet relaxing too.”

It is clear that students like me are a main target audience for Mary & Milly, and with this in mind I questioned if this meant Poppy was more conscious about keeping her pricing more reasonable to ensure she keeps her customer rate. Inevitably, the fashionista responded, “Yes it is important. Mary & Milly is for students who love fashion but love their money to go further too so my prices are always reasonable.” The vintage and classic clothing shop also offers a 10% discount for NUS Card holders which of course would never be frowned upon and only entices me more!

Vintage made new! Poppy stands proud at her Preston based pop-up stall

Vintage made new! Poppy stands proud at her Preston based pop-up stall

So, although Poppy caters for me and all you other fashion crazy, vintage loving, second-hand fearing females out there, I wanted to know if the brands style has always been a style that she herself has favoured. She explained, “The Vintage style of the brand is based on one of my grandmas Milly so it is always been a style I am familiar with and do like to buy.” With Poppy’s fashion being discussed, it was only right I put to question the main topic on my mind, “Second-hand clothing, a fan or not?” Poppy replied, “Second-hand clothes are cool because no-one else will have them so it encourages individuality and can support a charity which is great. But, I can understand people not wanting to wear pre-owned items. I sometimes buy them to support the charity they are from if I really love something and another pro is that you can find some bargains – who doesn’t like a bargain!” I no doubt love a bargain, although thanks for understanding Poppy as I somehow don’t think my queasy stomach quite agrees to second-hand clothing just yet. However, one thing is for sure I do love your stall.

If you’re reading this and are completely smitten with all things Vintage, there is no need to panic! I understand that not everyone has a fear of second-hand clothing so I have therefore put together a map to show a range of different Vintage and Charity stores I have found situated around Preston Town Centre. You may want to have a look, even I am tempted by some of the items they each hold. 

I have also found a website, The Vintage Directory, that I would highly recommend. Check out their list of Vintage Fairs & Events across the UK!

The End is near

So, throughout my post I have made it quite clear on my, lets say, ‘negative’ opinions of second-hand clothing, whilst praising the brand Mary & Milly for its wonderful fashion. However, I would love to know your point of view as a reader. It wouldn’t be right if you all couldn’t have a say, would it? I want to know if my post has completely changed your mind on second-hand clothing, whether it has made you more persuaded to dig deep in the racks of Vintage stores or better still, made you want to visit Mary & Milly. To make things a little easier I have created another survey – yes another – I think I am enjoying making them! The survey can be found below and I hope you will all take the time to fill it out, it doesn’t take long. I promise!

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