My Vintage Town; "It is the ultimate solution to those who want an ethical and sustainable wardrobe!"
For those of you not familiar with The Metropolitan Club, they produce an amazing vintage shopping guide called ‘My Vintage Town’ … “a vintage guide for the curious traveller”.
We are super thankful to The Metropolitan Club team for providing each of our attendees at our ‘Let’s Get Ethical’ event with a copy of ‘My Vintage Town’, so much so that we wanted to share with you more of an insight into how this guide came about. We hope that you will contact Rose to purchase a guide for your own second hand and vintage shopping adventures. The latest updated guide is hot off the press and can you can buy your own copy right here.
We asked Rose about the guide and found out more about her love of vintage and collecting. Rose also shared with us her 5 top tips on vintage shopping and some exciting vintage shopping news…..!!
So Rose, can you tell us a bit about your love of vintage clothing and where this came from?
I think the love has always been in me. I come from a long line of crafty women who instilled an appreciation of handmade clothing in me, I can't pass up a bargain and I love treasure hunting which vintage shopping provides in spades.
During high school my friends and I started going to church op shops and school fairs to pick up old slips and 70s polyester shirts (forgive us, it was the grunge era). We also loved shopping for free furniture and homewares from the inorganic collections on the side of the road (RIP, I really miss the inorganics!).
After getting a sensible Geography degree, I decided to study my first love, fashion, and became a qualified seamstress and pattern maker. This led to an amazing design assistant role at Pearl where the fabulous owner, Cris Roberts, used vintage garments as her design inspiration so I got to study them up close and from the inside out. French seams, covered buttons, antique tatted collars, yum!
You are quite the vintage clothing collector. How many vintage items do you own and could you tell us a bit about how you sourced this collection and what your favourite vintage brand is?
I've been hoarding old things since I was a teenager and I'm about to turn 40 so that's a solid 25 years of collecting from a range of sources including op shops, church fairs, theatre wardrobe collections, dump shops, auctions, estate sales, you name it! Over that time I've moved around the world a bit, so I've bought and sold a lot but I was really brave last year and said goodbye to over 500 pieces of 1930s - 1970s vintage. I see my former collection out at events and in the wild now and I love it so much. I have to admit, I still have four racks but you can't blame a former addict for holding on to a little bit of the good stuff can you?
As for a favourite vintage brand, if I absolutely had to choose one I wouldn’t say no to a wardrobe full of vintage Schiaparelli but my most favourite type of vintage garment is something that's been made by hand and has no brand or label at all. The sweetness and earnestness of handmade clothing that's lasted more 50 years makes me want to weep.
Where did the idea to start producing the ‘My Vintage Town’ guide come from?
Basically as an excuse to go op shopping around the world!
When I lived in London, I loved spending weekends discovering all of the incredible secondhand stores and high tea places in one of the world's best vintage hot spots and I wrote a few guides to the perfect vintage week in London.
Then in 2012 when I'd moved back to New Zealand, two friends and I had a crazy idea to start a magazine, Glory Days, that focused on heritage, vintage and retro culture in New Zealand and around the world. We would go on huge road trips around the country while creating content for the magazine, which was the perfect excuse to go hunting in all those wonderful small town op shops and we thought we better document the experience rather than keeping all the secrets to ourselves!
What started as a feature in the magazine eventually transformed into a stand-alone My Vintage Town series of guides to the best op shops, vintage stores, second hand shops and heritage sites around New Zealand that are now published by The Metropolitan Club.
A big motivation for me behind the guides was to support the promotion of op shops who would very rarely, if at all, get inclusion in any mainstream guide books. It was lots of hard work at the beginning, but the guides have really gained momentum over the past year. We are so fortunate to get to know all of these fantastic independent businesses that care about our environment, about reusing and recycling, and about providing options to consumers that don’t involve mass production or harm to people. We love promoting them through our guides.
What is your role at Metropolitan Club?
Currently my role at The Metropolitan Club is Director-at-Large, as I also have a full time job at Auckland Council working with an amazing team who are supporting businesses, visitors and residents in the city centre while developments are transforming the city-scape. Good to know my degree finally came in handy and I get to use it to help others! My partner, Matt, manages the club’s business day-to-day. He produces a range of strategic heritage, experiential and artistic projects, working with a fantastic team of creative and talented people to deliver them.
With the importance of considering a more ethical and sustainable fashion wardrobe today, vintage is a great solution to this as we are recycling and giving forgotten beautiful clothing new homes. For a beginner new to vintage shopping what tips do you have and where should they start?
It is the ultimate solution to those who want an ethical and sustainable wardrobe! I love that vintage garments have had a complete other life before coming into our orbit and past owners imbue them with love and memories for us. And of course fabrics were of supreme quality in the past so they are far more sustainable and long lasting than most modern clothing. You also get to support independent businesses and charities that sell vintage and secondhand so it’s a beautiful holistic system of positive and meaningful exchange.
My top five tips for buying vintage:
1. Learn your fabrics! Visit fabric stores, touch as many samples as you can and learn the names of all of them. Up until the 1960s the majority of vintage was made using natural fabrics – silk, cotton, wool, rayon. You can teach your hand and even your eye to pick a natural cloth from a mile away, so even if a rack is squished with garments that you can’t see properly you will be able to pick out the good old stuff by sight or touch.
2. Study old fashion illustrations, photographs, magazines and patterns. They will give you lots of clues about silhouettes from past decades and you can start to learn about shapes and the historical eras that they convey. There is a subtle yet huge difference between, say, 1940s and 1980s shoulder pads.
3. Take a tape measure, wear good underwear and don’t put on any lipstick. When you’re shopping for vintage you don’t want to get trapped in a too tight dress that has a side seam zip wearing a sports bra and you’re about to smear your lippie all over it in an attempt to get it off you… trust me!
4. Turn it inside out. What you’re looking for is old labels or no labels, pinked rather than overlocked edges, French seams and beautiful tiny details like hand-made belt loops, snap closures for your bra straps inside the garment and full linings. This will give you an idea about the age and authenticity of the piece and it teaches you so much about garment construction.
5. Buy and wear what you love and don’t worry about getting it all picture perfect. For me the whole point of vintage is side stepping the fashion system. I feel it's really important not to let fashion dictate the rules about what to wear, particularly as it doesn't care about individual shapes, sizes or figures. However, when you start getting in to vintage don’t start to feel as though you ‘have to’ wear say 1950s dresses with a petticoat or drop waist dresses to an Gatsby themed party or hair scarves with everything because then it just becomes another rule based dictatorship and that’s no fun at all!
I’m biased of course, but if you’re just getting in to vintage, I thoroughly recommend getting your hands on the My Vintage Town guides as a starting point. We’ve made it super easy to discover all the best second hand spots as well as good places to sit down with a cup of tea in a lovely setting once you’ve had a good rummage!
What has the Metropolitan Club got coming up in the near future that we should look out for?!
There are so many exciting things coming up for The Metropolitan Club. We are currently working with Napier’s Art Deco Trust, the Whanganui Vintage Weekend team, MOTAT, Highwic, Hendrick’s Gin, Dilmah and others on a range of projects so make sure you keep an eye on Facebook and Instagram for the launch of our Summer Season. We can’t give away too much yet but it will involve a combination of gin, gypsy jazz, death drawing, high tea, whodunits, absinthe tastings and plenty of dazzle!
We’re also working on the next editions of My Vintage Town Auckland, Whanganui and Hawkes Bay so it’s really wonderful connecting again with all of the independent businesses and heritage teams that share our love of beautiful old things.
And finally, we are cooking up a plan to host a series of vintage shopping tours so people can shop secondhand and feel good about their gift giving this year!