The moment we’re experiencing is quite rightly making us pause for thought, what should we be buying if we feel we can spend money right now? No matter what the pandemic has done for your personal budget for life’s decorative things, I think we all want our purchases to be more purposeful. Cue art and objects that add to our lives on the daily.
I recently discovered Modern Decorative, a unique online gallery that sells undiscovered art and antiques. With handy extra eyes from his father, Gary Jackson, who was in the antique business for years before becoming a painter, the founder Joe spots underrated and underpriced pieces for his thoughtful collection. Unlike my usual knack for eyeing the exact items that sit way outside of my price range, the silver kissing couple brooch above and 1970s etching below are both around the one hundred pounds mark. The etching is signed, but Joe and his father Gary take the philosophy that the best signature is the painting itself.
“Behind every painting, there’s a soul, a person who loves to paint, a life story that will influence the work no matter how abstract that influence is.”
–Gary Jackson, Modern Decorative
For me buying art is a distinctive way to identify a moment in time, like when I moved into the first home of my own and soon bought a piece of urban art that matched my first big salvage purchase, plus encapsulated my emotions during that period. Sometimes you’re looking for something for a particular space and other times the right piece just finds you.
When buying art and decorative pieces to dress your home, I think it’s important to only go for what you really really, let’s throw another really in there, love. It’s good to ask yourself how much do I love it? Sometimes you know instantly and at a market, it’s tempting and sometimes necessary to act on immediate impulse, but the benefit of shopping online gives you the chance to scroll, and see a piece in the place you intend for it to live. Just take a look at Modern Decorative’s Instagram if you have any doubt that a photograph can capture the mood and texture of a painting.
The secondary art market suits an increasing appetite amongst young, highly visual art appreciators that can discover and own originals at a good value. There is not currently much demand for 19th-century art, but it can look unexpectedly exquisite in a modern setting. If you want to reject the fashion for 20th-century modern pieces then something like this watercolour could put you ahead of style’s pendulum swing.
I enjoyed virtually escaping through their feed of natural landscapes and one particular sunny still life with flowers, which is as close as I am getting to the Mediterranean for a while. Before the pandemic, Joe luckily expanded from London to a studio space in Barcelona, which in normal times gives him a perfect position to source works between Spain and France.
From a market stall in my hood on Portobello Road, Gary and his twin brother Paul used to deal in antiques together, and Joe would help out from an early age. Paul now specialises in twentieth-century Scandinavian design from Stockholm with his business Jackson Design AB. The twins’ other brother Simon started restoring in their dad’s garage before winning a scholarship to West Dean, where he met his wife, and now Simon and Frauke restore and sell antique and Mid-mod furniture in Bath. From sleek to classic to delightfully unusual, the eye is strong in this family.
No dates are in the diary yet, but if you are eager to exercise your eyes in the real world then check the website to see Modern Decorative at fairs in the future.
When Beck and I first came together to create ethazon we desired an eco fashion place for people to dress for the world they want. Fast forward two years and we have seen a flurry of fashion trying to clean up its act, which is great for the movement, but with sustainability suddenly the word of the moment it is even harder to separate the green from the washing, so our founding mission is potentially more apt now than ever.
ethazon is about taste and transparency. We’re building an eco fashion place for people to dress deliberately from carefully selected designers and makers. We’re still working on our website, but we’ve launched a private Instagram so that followers get the first look at our recrafted accessories and thrifte vintage, whilst bigger collaborations with designers in eco fashion and dealers in reclaimed interiors are on the horizon.
If like us you’re emerging from lockdown conscious of the world in distress and are seeking a new look or a new outlook then join us. Follow @ethazon for our secret carbon conscious collection of things to dress yourself and your home.
I am not sure where “bins” the abbreviation for glasses comes from, but considering my need for increasingly telescopic lenses it seems appropriate to refer to them as my binoculars.
I enjoy the time when it comes to choose new glasses, well new old glasses as I always opt for vintage when it comes to opticals. If you are more conscious of buying vintage personal items during the pandemic then rest assured that many vintage specs have never been used.
For me, part of the fun usually involves visiting a shop dressed with antique cabinets, drawers and trays presenting styles for a try-on session. I had my eyes on a market, where online vintage eyewear emporium, Retro Spectacle was exhibiting but coronavirus ruled that impossible so I took the plunge and picked from pictures. Their selection of frames spans spectacles, sunglasses, designer names and desirable collectables like NHS styles, which date back to the late ‘40s.
In this day and age you can even shop reclaimed shop display cabinets online to add to the magic when looking at stock irl. These [from a selection on Salvo] soothed my craving.
There is something about lockdown that heightens your screen experiences, and exchanges with Retro Spectacle’s owner Charlotte made it for me. She is an optician in practise so advised me well on frames that would work with my prescription, and shared selfies to help me choose between the seven styles I was eyeing; particularly kind as few people felt like taking selfies in lockdown. Apart from the tech between us, it felt like good old fashioned service, the kind that I dream the customers of couturier Christian Lacroix were treated to back in the day. Needless to say I chose vintage cat eye glasses by Christian Lacroix and an unapologetic ’80s pair by Christian Dior. Some people spent on earrings to jazz up video calls, but I’m wearing glasses more, so I got two vintage pairs for less than you would pay for a new pair of designer glasses.
Prices start from £29 at Retro Spectacle. They also do lenses but after all that screen time I had to get my eyes tested. Travelling on the tube again – just me in the carriage, I had time to take-in my new masked reflection and it confirmed that personality eyewear was a good investment right now.
I personally love vintage glasses for their uniqueness, handmade quality and because it’s a more sustainable option, and I definitely needed to do something right by the planet given the amount of plastic PPE involved in eye examinations now. Plastic-free July fail. However, my first “normal” errand in a while did have its thrills. I left with the knowledge of the tissue trick. Listen up glasses wearers, if you place a tissue over your nose before positioning your face mask then it helps with the condensation. Handy, because I hope to be able to see in my new glasses.
How will fashion become fashionable again after lockdown? We are waiting to see if the expected shift to more conscious shopping will be accelerated following the reflection time that beings, brands and businesses have had to take in the bigger picture. Categories like locally made, vegan or organic are certainly popping up more frequently on shopping platforms, like the newly launched PARO STORE. But its most compelling component is that you can tell the founders, Ruth and Zoe chose the brands because they personally want to shop from them. The progressive offering ranges from clothes and jewellery to independent magazines that shine fresh light on heavy issues like climate change.
PARO STORE edit, from the top:
Organic ribbed cotton Anai Bodysuit II by Aniela Parys
Hot hot hot! magazine Issue 3
Candy Person shorts and cardi by ULLAC oy
Recycled silver and oyster shell earrings by Mia Larsson
This is Fashion Revolution Week, where we ask #whomademyclothes to coincide with and commemorate the Rana Plaza factory, which collapsed seven years ago today. This is the day Fashion Revolution was born.
A month in lockdown has likely resulted in more time for self-care for some, and forced self-care for others. Sometimes it takes getting sick to remember the importance of taking better care of our bodies and minds because we shy away from acts that soothe the self. Me-time is usually last on the list. Self Care is the name of the new collection from ethical fashion label, Ilk + Ernie, which has me contemplating is fashion self-care?
Arguably fashion is moving towards pillars of self-care practice with the emergence of kinder, comfortable shoe styles and athleisure that makes it easier to go from office mode to exercise mode. On a deeper level, I truly believe clothes have the power to transform our mental state, and the emergence of ethical fashion labels like Ilk + Ernie can make buying fashion a happy thing – both for yourself and the people that made it. If fashion is to find its meaning again then it will surely come from a pivot towards kindness to ourselves, others and the planet.
Jessica McCleave, the woman behind Ilk + Ernie took some time this Fashion Rev Week to share her journey into the sustainability scene.
What did you do before you started Ilk + Ernie?
Much like you, I began my career working in the fashion industry. I started out as a visual merchandiser for Topshop HO and later moved into styling and PR. If I’m honest I really struggled with it, I found fashion to be a cruel, cut throat and at times very unkind industry. I once got told by a manager of mine that I was “too nice to work in fashion” which as you can imagine was very unmotivating! I think what I struggled with most is why we weren’t celebrating each other’s creativity instead of squandering it.
So I left! After some time working as a PA I became miserable enough to want to go back, but on my own terms. Working in high street fashion made me realise how wasteful the industry could be. I grew up designing and decided I wanted to give it another shot. I’d heard good things about textiles in India, so I booked a one way flight, packed up my life and went. I spent 4 months looking for ethical production and eventually found Sam. His father opened their factory 30 years ago and have been working with start-ups like mine ever since. Their business is Sedex certified, which means they’re on the map for doing things ethically.
What is the inspiration behind the name?
Ilk + Ernie was not the businesses first name. Back in the day it went by the name KIN LDN. Named so because I wanted to start a business that celebrated kinship amongst women. I was tired of the negativity I’d experienced in the industry and I wanted something positive; a sisterhood to buy from and be a part of. The name felt perfect. However after a feature in Vogue and some other mags my business got noticed by John Lewis, who was in the middle of launching a collection in their department store called KIN. They slapped me with a cease and desist and that was that, a classic case of the struggles of a small business against the big guys. I took a year out to restart and rebrand my business and in SS18 Ilk + Ernie was born. The name is unusual haha, but I learnt my generic naming lesson! Ilk was my follow on from KIN, I loved the name and meaning so much that I wanted to hold onto it in another form. Ernie is from my Irish dad. The first born son of every generation of his family was called Ernist. I was the first girl. The name means a lot to me and I wanted to carry it on. So in sum, the name is for family and community!
Do you have any self-care routines or recommendations?
Right now self-care is the biggest thing on my agenda. I think it’s something that all human beings can do more of. For such a long time people didn’t talk about their mental health, yet we’ve all suffered from poor mental health at some point in our lives. In this crazy time of uncertainty, self-care is the most important kindness we can give ourselves. We all need to find our own way to stay sane and healthy! For me right now that’s routine. I wake up at the same time every morning [apart from weekends!], do my friends live stream hiit class, finish up with some yoga, shower, eat a tasty breakfast and then sit down to work. I don’t work past 5pm because I really rely on my afternoon stroll these days. When I’m feeling crap and unmotivated I let myself. When I want to eat junk food I let myself. When I want to sleep I let myself. I try not to allow myself to feel guilty – being overwhelmed is normal, especially when you’re running a small business. I have an amazing boyfriend and I live in a guardianship community with lots of incredible people, and for that I am grateful. Basically I allow myself to think and feel what I need to think and feel. I find that helps me stay positive.
What is your favourite thing to do in Brighton? And assuming it is something you can’t enjoy right now – what will you wear when you can do it again after lockdown?
GAAAD! I miss being out and about in Brighton soooo much. After 10 years of living in London, I was so bowled over by the kind, friendly people of this city. My favourite thing….being able to walk to the beach in 15 minutes. I love the Laines and the amazing community Brighton has. The food scene is insane! I’ll never tire of eating out here. I can’t wait to sit out on a cobbled street and sink a glass of wine haha, so English.
After lockdown I will be parading around in Ilk + Ernie’s SS20 clobber! I am genuinely so excited about this collection. It’s colourful, fun and can be worn all year round. The green Mom Suit is my favourite 🙂
What does Fashion Revolution mean to you?
Fashion Rev has created a much needed voice for an industry that was in such dire need of change. It has brought ethics and sustainability to the forefront and forced people to listen. There has been such a surge in people’s acknowledgment of how damaging fast fashion is. I honestly don’t think people considered the links between fast fashion and global warming. Over consumption of poor quality garments made by exploited garment workers wasn’t exactly a thing people wanted to admit to knowing, but on some level we all knew. How else could companies like Pretty Little Thing be producing £6 dresses?
What Fashion Rev has done is amazing. They’ve created a passion in people to do the right thing, shop responsibly and care about where their clothes come from. It’s an exciting time to be part of the ethical fashion community as a small business. When I was starting out no one cared about the sustainability behind my business. It’s so great to finally see people take notice.
I grew up in Brighton, where the brand is based, so like Jessica, I am keen to soothe my soul with the creativity and kindness in Bri-Town when we are allowed out and about again. But until that time comes, enjoy some Self Care.
We hope you stay safe, sane and well in these times of madness.
Week three wfh and I am ready to be wild from home. The highlight of my weekend was singing Nirvana’s Teen Spirit whilst dancing around the lounge with my husband. “You call that wild? You need to get out more” I hear you say. Yes, I do. And one day I will. We all will. But until then I’m making my own conditioner with organic dried marshmallow root.
Did you know that Glasgow rates highly for green spaces per capita with 90s parks and gardens? The clue is in the city’s nickname “Dear Green Place”, which is derived from the Gaelic word for Glasgow. Other glorious green places are uncovered as you chat to people that live there, such as MILK Cafe, pictured below. MILK is a social enterprise set up to empower and support refugee and migrant women living in Glasgow. As well as a place for folks after an exciting breakfast menu, the space is used to run workshops which are open to all women in the community. I had just over a day to discover the city, so after starting at the oldest park, Glasgow Green, these are my go-to shops to help you scratch the surface of Glasgow’s green scene.
Mr Ben Retro Clothing
Kings Court, 101 King St, Glasgow G1 2RB
Your first impression might not suggest you’ve arrived at the place for true gems like this ’80s Valentino dress I unearthed. Of course every visit is unique with vintage and the stock is always different, but once you step inside I think you would find it hard not to spot something in Mr Ben that interests you. I met the owner, Mary Ann King’s sister, who helps in the shop sometimes. She told me stories about the ’60s when London’s Carnaby Street was Carnaby Street and the time Mary Ann King borrowed her cardigan, only to see it again in a Vogue shoot. Mr Ben Retro Clothing is evidence that its founder has been collecting since she was 10, with pieces of historical significance from her personal archive dotted around the display. Stock for sale includes iconic Burberry trenches and great buys in menswear, womenswear and accessories.
10 King Street, Glasgow, G1 5QP and other locations in Glasgow
Pared back and spacious, West Vintage is a good place to workout your retro sportswear needs. Expect mixed levels aka prices, and brands like Adidas, Nike, Levis and Tommy Hilfiger. Find functional workwear that transcends time, or colour combos that could only have been conceived in the ’90s.
The City Retro Fashion
41 King St, Glasgow G1 5RA
This is a small shop with a substantial offering. The City Retro Fashion is a friendly, easy place to shop real vintage with particularly boss womenswear and menswear pieces from the ’50s and ’60s, although the collection spans a good five decades. While in here, be sure to check out pieces from local young sustainable brands like House of Black, also stocked in the store.
Rags to Riches
455 Victoria Rd, Glasgow G42 8RW
Established with the aim of increasing awareness of reuse and upcycling, whilst also providing training and employment opportunities, Rags to Riches is a social enterprise project run by the Govanhill Baths Community Trust. We need to move to a circular economy to build resilient communities, and the range of workshops and locally made fashion stocked here sing to this movement. The shop is full of upcycled items that really do up the value of the materials they were born from.
The Glasgow Vintage Company
453 Great Western Rd, Glasgow G12 8HH
Expect a marvellous selection of womenswear, menswear and a little childrenswear accessorised by greenery with good pot plants. The Glasgow Vintage Company is a mash-up of pieces dating back to the ’50s that feel modern, so it’s a welcoming place to ease yourself into vintage if you don’t normally do vintage. The shop is bright with lots of natural daylight and atmospheric lighting, which makes looking for treasure easy. Come here for clearly laid out classics like an authentic vintage Barbour, colourful cashmere, jeans or the retro Harris Tweed you hoped for as a souvenir from Scotland.
496 Great Western Rd, Glasgow G12 9BG
This is a destination for reloved pieces with a mix of good pre-loved high street clothes and shoes cuddled up to retro homeware and accessories. Glorious has a low-key splendour to it that leaves you feeling warm inside.
There is nothing like a good research session to get one in the mood. I like to seek out the eco fashion and decor offering when I visit a new city, but hopefully I can skip you to the main event with my shares from Edinburgh. Sustainable secondhand usually reigns supreme in terms of physical shops to visit in a city. This is no bad thing as true vintage (at least 20 years old) and a peppering of pre-loved pieces provide that mysterious, storied appeal that make you really want to wear them, and no one likes a souvenir that doesn’t get used.
Edinburgh is rich in true vintage, but also offers that rare delight when 2 become 1. Rather than Sporty, Scary, Baby, Ginger and Posh’s ‘90s rendition about the bonding of lovers — and the importance of safe sex! I am referring to shops that offer new ethical and eco brands alongside vintage.
So, here are the places I recommend in the order I visited them over a few days in the capital. Everywhere on my list is reachable by foot or by bus. Just don’t pull my Londoner move and plant yourself randomly ready to pile onto the bus. Edinburgh is a civilised city and there’s a queuing system, and it seems the same goes for pubs should you need refreshment.
9 West Port, Edinburgh EH1 2JA
If you’re not riding a unicorn upon arrival, you’ll feel like you are when you leave Godiva. Fleur has led her boutique through many incarnations and today, 2 become 1 with the unconventional mix of local ethical and eco brands with eat your heart out eighties and other eras housed in the backroom dedicated to vintage. The chandelier perched in the corner was given to her at a party, which makes Fleur’s the best party favour I’ve heard of. The jewellery is a highlight, including ethical brand And Mary which makes hand painted porcelain pieces in the Scottish Borders. Purrrr.
Holyrood Architectural Salvage
146 Duddingston Rd W, Edinburgh EH16 4AP
If that’s given you a taste for chandelier spotting then this showroom is worth a visit as it makes shopping for salvage easy. Holyrood Architectural Salvage is home to Edinburgh’s largest selection of antique fireplaces, but regular reclaimed items include lighting, original cast iron radiators, and a good supply of door furniture and doors – clearly organised by period or by panels.
Miss Bizio Couture
41 St Stephen St, Edinburgh EH3 5AH
“Welcome to my wardrobe” says owner, Joanna as you enter (and she means it). Every visitor to Miss Bizio Couture is treated to Joanna’s personal wardrobe and the extraordinary eye she has been honing since she started collecting when she was fourteen. A stint in a high powered, high paid job before being discovered as an artist allowed her to acquire remarkable pieces, but not just because she had the money to buy luxury, as she is not impressed by labels, but driven by the key anchors we should all look for before buying: colour, fabric and fit. “Everything had to be right” she said. There is not much for less than £100, and there is not much room for browsing. It’s so unapologetic, and why not? Why visit a shop anymore if you’re not looking for a personal experience. If you’re after something alluring then Joanna will personally find it for you.
Elaine’s Vintage Clothing
55 St Stephen St, Edinburgh EH3 5AH
Closed when I visited, but made it into my edit for these beautiful shutters.
Those Were The Days
26-28 St Stephen St, Edinburgh EH3 5AL
Nestled next to its sister boutique, which is dedicated to vintage bridal with stock ranging from Edwardian to ’90s wedding dresses, you’ll know where to come after you’ve found love in the form of vintage Yves or Ossie Clark. A visit to Those Were The Days is a lesson in how to shop vintage and look modern. Neatly selected vintage high street and accessories suit different budgets, whilst other prices are higher, but fair for luxury labels like Chanel and Courrèges. The menswear looks like it just stepped off a Gucci catwalk and the handbags are true talking pieces.
Zero Waste Hub (by SHRUB Coop)
22 Bread St, Edinburgh EH3 9AF
On bread Street you’ll find free bread. No joke, Zero Waste Hub offers the chance to swap your pre-loved things, enjoy some rescued food and learn and share skills to make a practical difference to the world. It is designed for members, but visitors can still shop the swaps, attend events, enjoy the veggie and vegan cafe and appreciate the reclaimed gymnasium floor.
51 Bread St, Edinburgh EH3 9AH
Opened by Rachael in 2016, Carnivàle offers trinkets that intrigue, yet a layout that is easy to explore with pieces arranged by category and size. Despite offering a collection that ranges from antique to ’90s fashion, you get the sense that Rachael’s goal is to pull back the curtain on vintage fashion and encourage anyone and everyone to share a piece of her love for it. This is a good stop for traditional men’s vintage too.
151 West Port, Edinburgh EH3 9DP
This isn’t a shop, it’s a mood. You feel like you’re in a stylist’s studio before a photoshoot with really great jewellery and accessories to multiply the outfit potentials from what is a compact, quality edit of womenswear with some menswear. Yes, I did buy something (the oat coloured coat I am wearing in the photo below), but I also left Herman Brown inspired about getting dressed with what I already own.
Fitted dresses and thick knits were my uniform in Edinburgh. I don’t usually don one, but I’m okay with my Ally Bee wool cleavage.
Multiple locations with their flagship at 81-83 Grassmarket, Edinburgh EH1 2HJ
Okay it was Halloween weekend when I visited, but Armstrong’s struck me as a landmark destination for authentic fancy dress. Established in 1840, W. Armstrong & Son is the biggest emporium so they can keep prices lower. You may have to shimmy in between art students curating their university wardrobes, but it’s worth it for an affordable Aran knit.
39 Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh EH1 2QB
Each secondhand or locally produced piece feels purposefully placed by the shop’s owner, Hannah. Wholesome objects with a small but quality mix of fashion, accessories, and items made in Scotland with surplus yarns are the focus. Hannah’s dad, John is a sustainable textile designer and creates bespoke tartans and tweeds alongside working in the family business Stag & Bruce, which is the brand behind many of the wool throws and blankets at PI-KU Collective. See @pi.ku.collective for quirky flat lays.
54 Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh EH1 2QE
The name Still Life caught my attention as it’s pleasant to slowly ascend the winding road of Candlemaker Row, where you guessed it, candles were made centuries ago. Enter this Aladdin’s Cave and you will be welcomed with art, antiques and collectables balancing on every surface, but no need to be daunted as the owner, Ewan is super friendly.
Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland
71-73 Raeburn Pl, Edinburgh EH4 1JG
The city has lots of great charity shops, but I think it’s good to know your shopping supports local communities. The Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland shop caught my eye with its striking window and No Life Half Lived campaign. This particular location is one of the charity’s Boutique Stores so it has a mix of vintage and pre-loved pieces, including luxury names. Good for womenswear and menswear with a little homeware.
Sara wuz also here. I hope you enjoy Edinburgh as much as I did.
I won’t try to dress-up the fact that this is consumption season and this week sets the spending scene with a bombardment of Black Friday offers. Whether you are wrapping up your 2019 projects, buying gifts, or figuring out how to dress yourself and your home for Christmas, It is hard not to get caught in the seasonal rush.
A clue that the current commerce cycle is a game that both producers and consumers are losing came with findings that Black Friday sales offer few real deals according to the consumer group Which?. But shopping doesn’t have to be a dupe, and Christmas offers an opportunity to spend better, buy secondhand or support businesses that are making a difference.
The tradition of making a list and checking it twice is a good habit if you are looking to be more conscious this Christmas. You might think fairs aren’t a place to shop from a list, and it’s true that the magic they behold often comes from the crazy, unusual, beautiful things you could never have imagined, but it is still possible to check off a list and here is how Ardingly Antiques & Collectors Fair ticked my boxes.
1. Salvage ancient crafts and antiques that bring an aged glow. The stands are a great way to get festive decor ideas to set the scene.
2. Rediscover the joy and excitement of children. Regular exhibitor, Linda North Antiques never fails to bring the magic with a rich, tactile display that could melt the heart of the Grinch.
3. Get memorable gifts. Happy gifting guaranteed when you present your loved ones with a story to keep.
4. And finally, a gift to self. Mine was a pair of day to evening shoes [pictured at the top] that will be perfect for the party season and still give me joy come January. I found these seventies shoes by Shellys, the British brand that used to stomp the streets of London’s Carnaby Street.
This was the last Ardingly of the year, but you better not cry, you better not pout because the next IACF Fair is Alexandra Palace Antiques & Collectors Fair and it’s coming to town this Sunday 1st December 2019.