Although once a self-confessed Topshop addict, since coming to Nottingham I have embraced the vintage scene with open arms. Not only am I now able to avoid those all too frequent moments where you spy someone in the same top as you, it is also much more student budget friendly. Now, when my mother asks me how I can afford new clothes, I gleefully inform her of my latest second-hand bargain. I was pleasantly surprised by how many vintage boutiques there are hidden away in Nottingham, some of my favourite haunts being Cow, Rewind, Le Chien et Moi and Braderie. Purchasing second hand clothes eases my shopaholic’s conscience and I like to think I’m doing the world a favour by recycling clothes that are no longer wanted.
So when I discovered the Nottingham Vintage Fair, which comes calling once a term, I was naturally thrilled (for dates check out the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/nottinghamvintage?fref=ts). What with entrance costing just a pound for students it seemed rude not to go and peruse my Sunday away. The fair is held at The Albert Hall and is apparently hugely popular as I arrived 15 minutes after it opened to find the place teeming with vintage enthusiasts, all anxiously queuing up outside.
Upon entering, you are greeted with the delightful aroma of freshly brewed tea and the quintessential victoria sponge. Downstairs there were several stalls selling a range of homey nick knacks that have a bit of a car boot feel to them, sweet little pots, floral crockery, suitcases, watches and jewellery interspersed around (in other words an array of potential mothers day presents). If you’re feeling particularly keen and optimistic there was also the opportunity to have your hair and make up styled by Vintage Hair Lounge; cue beehive central. Upstairs opens right out and this is where the real shopping was to be found, with stall after stall of vintage delights squeezed into the available space.
There was a really charming and friendly atmosphere with people of all ages milling around, although the multitude of stalls and determined bargain hunters looked as though it had already got the better of some…
There was no shortage of rails or time and despite the crowds, I managed to work my way round at a leisurely pace. Stall owners were very friendly and happy to hold mirrors up for you or let you take clothes and try them on in the dressing room area. Unlike in most shops, they were also quick to offer a discount if you happened to find two pieces you liked, (which I did) and were also open to a spot of haggling, so finding a bargain wasn’t a challenge!
Patience and perseverance are two essential traits when it comes to vintage shopping and both had to be exercised diligently here. Unless you’re willing to worm your way in, it’s likely you’ll be hanging around at the end of the rails. It can also often be difficult to get a proper look at something due to the pressure to keep moving from the beady-eyed shoppers next to you. However, when you come across that rare yet wonderful find, it all becomes worth it. My advice: if you’re more of a get in and get out kind of a shopper then it might be wise to wait until the crowds have died down slightly.
As I went round I had a look to see if there were any pieces that reflect the latest catwalk trends. Although predictably there were lots of floral tea dresses, there were also lots of oriental pieces and white shirts with pretty lacework on them, all of which are currently on trend for spring. There was also a lot of fur on display, whether genuine or fake I wasn’t sure, but nevertheless I stayed well clear.
Although I came away with several purchases, on the way out my friend and I were told by someone just coming in that apparently all the good things had gone really quickly. So serious shoppers might want to get in there early. However, if like me you just fancy a change of scenery and the prospect of a good bargain, Nottingham Vintage Fair is a great place to find yourself whiling away for a good few hours.