Sunday, 16 October 2011

Once upon a time…

two sisters from the Scottish Highlands stumbled into a charity shop where they were first introduced to ‘vintage clothing’. From the first sight, touch and fitting Hannah and Charlotte Booth fell very much so in love. However, the allure of exclusive, time-honoured fabric was too strong and within several months the sisters were drowning in a sea of clothes. There was only one way to break the spell of vintage’s overpowering love, and that was to share it with others. Thus, Hannah and Charlotte opened their vintage boutique to all those seeking a fashion fairytale.

Since launching fashion brand ‘Once Upon A Time Vintage’ in summer, the Booth sisters- now living in Glasgow- have been met with great success. This is marked by their press coverage and the popularity of their ASOS boutique, which has allowed the sisters to send items as far away as Copacabana! Not to mention the staggering number of 700 facebook friends they have gathered within a mere month!

I was lucky enough to catch up with Charlotte Booth and ask her a few questions about the story of ‘Once Upon a Time Vintage’.

What made you decide to begin selling vintage clothing?
We set up a vintage boutique because our love for collecting vintage was getting a bit out of hand. We couldn’t let some of the beautiful pieces we’d found go to miss. We have a shared passion and energy for fashion, so we decided to put that energy into something fun. 

Where did the name ‘Once Upon A Time’ come from?
We came up with the name ‘Once Upon A Time’ because we love that clothes can tell a story about the people that have owned them or the decade in which they were fashionable and how the story of certain items can change and develop over time. 

How did you go about setting up your boutique?
Hannah originally started selling vintage goods she had collected with customised bits and pieces on ASOS. When our collection expanded we began to sell more professionally on ASOS, updating our page several times a week and then applying for a boutique. We were so pleased when we found out that our application was accepted. Going live as a boutique was an exciting day for business!

How would you describe Once Upon A Time’s vintage collections?

A  mix of girly and grungy. We like to cover all angles of vintage to make it more wearable than a lot of the vintage items you see nowadays. As strange as it sounds, a lot of vintage pieces are a bit dated with huge shoulder pads and floor length, layered dresses, which are not practical! Our collections fit into current trends and appeal to both high street as well as vintage shoppers. Our tea dresses, studded leather jackets and printed blouses are pieces that you can walk out the house in but that also turn heads. 

What sort of effect has living in a city, rather than the Highlands, had on your business?

It would have been very difficult to be successful if we were based in the Highlands. There is definitely a large variety of interesting vintage clothes in Glasgow and more opportunities to showcase our company. Living in a city has given our business the chance to grow.

Apart from your ASOS boutique, how else do you sell your clothing?

We sell a lot of it at local fairs in Glasgow. We have sold at ‘Granny would be proud’, ‘Judys Affordable Vintage Fair‘, ‘Afternoon Twee’ and ‘Gin in Teacups’. We are participating in a fashion pop up event called Bould Souls, which features new designers, on November 5th  which we are both very excited about.

What are your biggest achievements since launching your business?

Getting updated to an ASOS boutique and having our items featured on the ASOS  Marketplace homepage has been great for us. We owe much of our success to ASOS. Also having our story published in various magazines, like Creative Boom and Addictive Creatives and being lucky enough to have a photo shoot with international, fashion photographer Laura McKinnon. 

What are your hopes for the future of Once Upon A Time Vintage?

I am studying at university and Hannah is working full time but after I graduate we hope to increase our awareness and fan base, whilst also investing more money and time into our collections so we can substantially increase our stock for sale. We are still relatively new to the business world so we just want to keep improving.

With a wave of their wands the Booth sisters have transformed what was once a hobby into a successful career. Though the chapter of the Booth sisters fairytale ends here, the story of Once Upon a Time Vintage has only just begun.

Look out for the launch of ‘Once Upon A Time’ Vintage's A/W 2011 collection inspired by the 90's grunge style.

Photography by Laura McKinnon

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Mod Fashion Revivial

The revival of retro styles, from the return of the 1940s tea dresses to the flares of the 1970s, has become a key element of fashion trends in recent years and the influence of these eras is evident in most designers a/w 2011 collections. However, the vintage a/w fashion recreation that excites me most is the return of the 1960s Mod look.

The cultural mod movement began in London in the late 50s and ran through to the mid to late 1960s. The mod scene developed when British teenagers first gained financial status and used this power to reject the conservative and repressed society surrounding them. The mods were predominately working class, fashion obsessed youths who listened to ska, soul and R&B music at night clubs.

Mod fashion centred around tailor made suits, the parka, pork pie hats, button down shirts, skinny ties, polo shirts, pointed leather shoes, brogues or ‘Chelsea’ boots for males and shirts, a-line mini skirts and dresses often featuring horizontal and vertical stripes, peter pan collars, large Mac style jackets and flat shoes for females. The underground mod look became heavily commercialised in the late 1960s due to the arrival of Twiggy and her high fashion take on the style.

The 2011 a/w mod fashion revival takes the simple, fuss free retro look and revitalises it transforming the simple a-line dresses into dress inspired coats, with bands of clashing colours and materials and giving the classic style a more edgy feel.

The designers who embraced the vintage mod style in their a/w collections are Yves Saint Laurent, Bogetta Veneta and Prada.

Yves Saint Laurent’s collection reshapes the mod look to give it a more classy, high fashion feel. The menswear range takes the retro look to a more basic level, adding maturity to what was once the fashion of teenagers. The parka jackets, pork pie hats have been left back in the sixties. However, the smart elements of the mod style are still evident in the button down shirts, tailored trousers and the suit cut, black and checker coats. The traditional paisley scarves are replaced by tartan woollen ones and the colourful style of mod clothing has been left behind as the collection is dominated by black and white adding to the classic high fashion feel.

The YSL womenswear  a/w collection is much like the mens in that it sticks predominantly to black and white colourings. The traditional mod style is maintained in the a-line, checker mini skirt, which is given a more contemporary feel with a studded leather waistband. The grey, checked winter coat combines the Twiggy a-line dresses with the smart jackets of the sixties to give the new mod look more edge.

Bogetta Veneta’s female a/w collection is the most loyal to the original mod look, particularly in it’s use colour blocking and the dominance of red and royal blue. The typical mod polo neck is imitated in the high neckline of the winter coats and a-line skirt is replaced by shapely, fitted pieces.

Prada was another label to recreate the iconic 1960s mod image in their a/w womenswear collection. Colour blocking, checker patterns, high necklines and a lined dresses are key features in the collection. Prada also adopted the contemporary a-line dress jacket. However, I found that in comparison to the conservative YSL coats, Prada’s dress jackets did not look complete as outfits.

As with all up and coming trends there are plenty of high street imitations of the revised mod style for those who have a smaller budget when it comes to updating their wardrobe.


 This Twiggy inspired, peter pan dress is from the limited edition collection at Primark
This mod style polo shirt and oversized jacket is from Urban Outfitters