Ardingly Antiques & Collectors Fair showed its mettle (albeit disguised as petals )this week, as a major fair that continues to attract a strong following of dealers, designers and private buyers. It could have been the sunny start and morning light hitting the showground, but the architectural and decorative antiques looked especially pretty, like the first daffs in March.
My highlights included Mangan Antiques’ marbeled apothecary pots circa 1870 from southern Italy, coloured to signify the herbs they originally held. A floral telephone chair also caught my fancy for its fringing detail and so did numerous painted reclaimed doors.
This late Victorian stained glass panel rescued from Birmingham by Smiths of Stratford, and the ‘60s bag bursting with flowers were under the same roof at Ardingly and could arguably both be considered romantic gestures🌹.
The next Ardingly Fair will be held on Tuesday 23rd and Wednesday 24th April 2019 at the South of England Showground near Haywards Heath (as usual).
Had I not already left my heart in San Francisco in 2015 when I met the man I would marry seven months later, Love Street Vintage would have stolen it. Sustainable gems are dotted in many neighbourhoods, but High on a hill, Haight Street calls if you are after a single destination to explore vintage and pre-loved fashion. Berkeley is a must for Ohmega Salvage if you’re into reclaimed interiors. If time allows, I thoroughly recommend crossing the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin County for giant redwood trees and environmentally conscious communities. I had the vegan sausage of my life at Gestalt Haus in the town of Fairfax. But enough about my love life. Here’s some ethical and vintage finds to start your own love affair with the SF Bay Area.
Marina District – 2110 Chestnut St, San Francisco, CA 94123, USA. Plus more Amour Vert stores to explore in numerous neighbourhoods in the Bay Area…
Starting with green love. These sustainable staples are what you would expect to find if you raided the wardrobe of a chic French woman: classic tees, great silk blouses, a boyfriend blazer, relaxed sweaters, a slinky jumpsuit. AND then added free-spirited prints; this is after all San Francisco, where 97% of Amour Vert’s clothing is made (within just a few miles of the brand’s head office).Natural, quality fabrics are arguably the building blocks behind both French and Californian style, which Amour Vert translates beautifully with eco-friendly materials like GOTS certified organic cotton, Mulberry silk and modal.
Love Street Vintage
Haight & Ashbury neighbourhood – 1506 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA
Visit the kaleidoscopic corner of Haight and Ashbury and absorb the setting of 1967’s Summer of Love and then explore bohemian sixties and seventies fashion at Love Street Vintage. From paper-doll-making childhood days spent cutting out Sears catalogs to setting up this dress-up heaven, the owner edits beautiful clothing for women and men alongside accessories that date back to the twenties. Discover new jewellery made in California and antique Native American turquoise pieces.
Haight & Ashbury neighbourhood – 1764 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA
Caution: one may leave Static Vintage wanting to paint one’s walls a ‘90s shade of lime green. There is a lot to look at with painted walls decorated with women’s and men’s fashion. Stock ranges from reasonably priced rare pieces to cabinets reserved for vintage Vuitton luggage, designer jewellery and bags by the likes of Gucci and Chanel. Other accessories include lots of ties and shoes, which range from secondhand so-wrong-they’re-right to vintage Yves Saint Laurent. Rails are packed so it’s a good place if you are in the mood for a rummage. Take intermittent breaks in the brown teddybear chair.
Decades of Fashion
Haight & Ashbury neighbourhood – 1653 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA
As the name suggests, here you can shop by the decade of fashion that takes your fancy. Most pieces fall between the thirties to the eighties, but the collection spans 100 years from the 1890s. I’ve shopped everyday attire, but it’s particularly good for party-wear. Sadly I don’t drink champagne everyday like the late Cilla Black was said to, but on my last visit I was tempted by a pair of ‘80s champagne bottle and coupe earrings (that would be a perfect blind-date identifier). Don’t worry if you’re not reading this from the UK or you were born after 1995 and these Blind Date jokes are lost on you because if you’re into vintage then Decades of Fashion definitely won’t be.
Haight & Ashbury neighbourhood – 1660 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA
There’s nothing like a good window display to make you appreciate the pleasure that is unique to visiting a shop built with bricks instead of clicks. In fact the whole store front of Wasteland’s San Francisco location is worthy of a minute or two before you dive past Art Deco tiles to discover pre-loved fashion peppered with vintage. Expect high-end and contemporary designers, and when I last visited there was practically a cabinet dedicated to collectable Prada accessories. Of course stock changes quickly, but men’s clothes and accessories always maintain a healthy share of the space.
Eden & Eden
North Beach neighbourhood – 560 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
Not everything in Eden & Eden is sustainable, but the store and staff exhibit such respect for both new and vintage that it is truly a place to shop forever pieces. Eden & Eden’s vintage clothes and jewellery is so well-edited that it could even convert people that don’t usually do vintage. They also exhibit in A Current Affair, an event for premier vintage retailers and private dealers that comes to the Bay twice a year.
Inner Richmond neighbourhood – 212 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA
Step inside Seedstore and you feel a flowering spectrum of the sustainable fashion scene – ranging from local labels with collections made in California to independent brands from around the globe that nurture traditional in-country techniques. A pop-up of ‘80s and ‘90s vintage by WRN FRSH, a local SF label that also sells their own non-binary cut and sewn collection made of recycled denim sits well in this store of mainly new wardrobe staples for women and men and gifty goods.
Gravel & Gold
Mission District – 3266 21st St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
Let’s just say they had me at the doormat welcome message.
Gravel & Gold is home to an independent, woman-owned design collective and is mainly stocked with things the women make themselves including clothing, accessories and gifts featuring their handmade prints. Joyfully crafted items for your own home dome include stained glass shaka signs and unusual sculptures and ceramics. Expect a multi-sensory experience with warm, cruelty-free Californian scents from the likes of Fiele Fragrances.
Mission District – 914 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA. One of Ref’s two locations in SF.
It is increasingly rare to find a brand that you can’t get on home ground, so if you’re not based in San Francisco, New York or LA, Reformation calls for some revelling. Tech-savvy stores invite shoppers to add items to the fitting room from a monitor, but as a Brit usually restricted to viewing Reformation’s sexy strand of sustainable from behind a screen, I preferred to cruise the gallery-like display. Save your upper-arm workout for another time because unlike stores with jam-packed rails, Reformation dresses theirs with just one of each item. Then you can test sizes across bottoms, dresses and tops ready for future screen-shopping.
Berkeley – 2400 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702, USA
Exploring Ohmega Salvage is a happy excursion to inspire interestingly dressed interiors. This place is a staple of community for reuse with unusual objects that fit a need and tell a story. It’s a given that you will eye-up salvage bigger than your suitcase could carry; which in my case was a trough sink circa 1960, but there are smaller shoppable items too (like the glass pendant light shades pictured). It’s also fun to look at different architectural elements and furniture that you don’t find back home.
Fairfax in Marin County – 9 Bolinas Rd, Fairfax, CA 94930, USA
Mystic Rose is a new jewel to the treasure town that is Fairfax. Stepping inside is like entering a fortune tellers cabin with vintage clothes and ‘90s iridescent Moschino boots waiting to tell you about the life you could have if you choose them. This store has trinkets galore, gifts and great American vintage accessories for women and men. I saw mostly one-offs on my visit, apart from this trolley out front holding deadstock handbags from the seventies. It’s well worth crossing the Golden Gate Bridge for a taste of intentional living here.
This edit sums up my mood for the month ahead. It’s that time of year when your pinkie ring should give you super powers and you can cloak your face and your body in pillows [when not showing off that you’re capable of dancing in white whilst eating cranberry canapés].
Is it me or are haircare ads stuck in the 1950s? Can the contents of one plastic bottle really deliver on all of those promises? And are we even looking for those things at the end of a good shampooing?
Hair diaries of women with great locks usually involve a lotta steps and it is easy to succumb to the idea that we need a complicated routine to achieve the hair of our dreams. I just discovered a shampoo that needs no conditioner step, which is quite a significant discovery for my habitual hair routine. So could zero waste be the philosophy that actually delivers the haircare promise without a long, product heavy process?
Having heard that I was working to overhaul my beauty routine, Olivia of ethical homeware and accessories brand Nido Collective introduced me to Hanna of Acala, who offered to let me sample zero waste shampoo called Beauty Kubes.
Fellow member of Ethical Writers & Creatives, Hanna Pumfrey created her online store Acala to empower people with easy sustainable alternatives.Expect natural, organic and vegan health and beauty. But before you click to discover Acala’s plastic-freedom, let me spoil the end with the promise that I am a zero waste haircare convert.
My Acala delivery arrived in reusable packaging by RePack, which I was almost equally intrigued by so I put the whole thing in my weekender ready for my night away in Paris.
Good timing for a hair treat trial, I chose shampoo cubes for normal to dry hair, as living in the city I tend to wash my hair a lot and my lengths get dry. Plus I’m a sucker for anything rose or grapefruit and this formula is infused with rose extract, a blend of organic palmarosa, orange and grapefruit essential oils.
If you are less than thrilled about taking plastic bottles into the shower, but quite like an escape to the Cornish Riviera then Beauty Kubes could be for you too. Made in Cornwall, the product and packaging is 100% biodegradable. The cubes are cruelty free and free from palm oil, sulphates, and packed with vitamin E and pro vitamin B5 to promote growth, a healthy scalp and hair.
Apart from an unfortunate purple Halloween hair-in-can incident when I was about eleven, I do not dye my hair and I am particular about what I subject it to. It took me a moment to balance the right amount of water to shampoo cube – whilst sussing out how to work the shower in my hotel – but back home I perfected the crumbling technique. In the palm of your hand you gradually work it into a paste and a pleasing lather. If you’re accustomed to equating lather with cleanliness then it will take some getting used to natural shampoo, but honestly my hair feels clarified and cleaner.
Upon return to London, I posted the RePack packaging, which is returned to its source for free and then cleaned and redistributed to brands and stores using the service (many of which offer incentives through RePack’s online community). Then I washed my hair. Beauty Kubes passed the was my head just happier in Paris? test and my hair still feels softer in London’s hard water.
[Cue shot of woman in urban jungle having sexual experience with freshly washed hair]
Wearing hair washed with Beauty Kubes in Paris with pre-loved fake snake trousers & hair washed with Beauty Kubes in London with a poppy print jumpsuit from People Tree for their collaboration with the V&A Museum. See the latest V&A collection here
I didn’t see myself squeezing into another capsule challenge so soon – having spent 6 of the coldest weeks in just 6 items of clothes for Labour Behind the Label at the start of the year – but this was too good to resist… 10 items, 10 days, easy right? Ah, but this time the count includes shoes. And this challenge calls for the most out there, fun, fashiony pieces, hence the name #GlamCapsule to show that our wildest eco-glitter filled dream where fashion and sustainability hold hands and skip into the sunset can be a reality.
I’ve never been a capsule wardrobe kinda woman because a career in fashion has given me A LOT of clothes, but I am eager to make my wardrobe sustainable and one way of doing that is by giving more life to the things I already own.
So at the start of #zerowasteweek, here’s to reuse and designing happy wardrobes by wearing all the beautiful things we usually save for best. Wear, don’t waste and put your clothes and accessories somewhere you can see them [like in this ex museum display cabinet below].
And if you reaaaallly want something happy and new [or new for you], here’s some reclaimed and ethical ideas to get those fashion juices flowing…
Slip dress made from upcycled vintage silks We-Resonate
Jacket made from surplus furniture fabric Noumenon
Rose gold plated recycled silver Millie Hoops Gung Ho x Chalk Designs [£5 from every purchase goes to Friends of the Earth]
There may be snow on the ground, but spring starts in March and I’m thinking about a sari.
I have that bought something new feeling – when you want to wear it straight away and never be parted – but my Six Items Challenge, which continues for most of the month means I am banned from wearing my new sari dress.
If you’re thinking “what dress?” then you’ve walked into a wordsmith’s web. Now I’ll lead you to the secret sari dress sitting before my secret doors.
(the mirrors hide our washing machine)
I know it looks like a pillow, which is how I’m currently using it. Looking again, maybe I can work it into my Six Items wardrobe if I call it a clutch🤔. The dress actually folds even more neatly into a pocket like this, so I’m sure I could sneak in a phone and a lipstick.
Secret Projects, the people behind the Secret Sari Dress actually also do pillows and empower women in India by training them to sew the Secret Projects (the pillows also turn into snuggly blankets).
I met the founder, Fritha Vincent through Instagram and even though I hate the new algorithm I have to give it credit for the special connections you make. Fritha recently returned from Nilgiris, a UNESCO world heritage site in Tamil Nadu, where she met 50 women from rural villages near the Mudumalai National Reserve.
These women can earn around 220 rupees per day (approx £1.60) working on construction sites, filling pot holes on the roads following the monsoon, working in coffee plantations or as agricultural labourers. The women have to leave their homes early morning and do not return until the evening and are always paid less than men for doing the same work.
Secret Projects wants to help these women. For every three Secret Pillows they sell they can invite one woman on to the Training for Empowerment Programme. They need to sell 150 pillows to bring all 50 women on board ahead of the training session this month. Not only do the women learn basic tailoring skills, they are supported to help find employment local to them, to become financially independent, and to work together sharing equipment on joint sewing projects. They are empowered to help themselves and each other.
March also marks International Women’s Day on Thursday 8th, so why not #PressforProgress with a pillow – give it to a woman in your life and spread the positivity to a woman in India.
As I can’t wear it, my secret door is modelling my clever wrap-around dress, made from a vintage sari.
Here’s my pick. See more Secret Sari Dresses and Secret Pillows here.