SATIN and silks, cotton, suede, furs and frills... the Cork vintage market is thriving, with young and old reconnecting with trends that have long since left the fashion runway.
From jewellery at Isobella Ru to 1940s-’80s clothing at Mercury Goes Retrograde, both located on Drawbridge Street, or accessories at Peacock & Ruby and Miss Daisy Blue, two fanciful vintage clothing stores located in the Market Parade, the choice is almost endless.
Devilish Designs by Gina shut up shop at the parade, but now operates online. Other top shops for vintage buys include The Hummingbird Rooms on Liberty Street, The Retro Workshop on Washington Street and Carousel on Oliver Plunkett Street.
BUYING AND SELLING
Five years ago, the Mother Jones Flea Market on York Street, off MacCurtain Street, opened, offering an outlet for all who favoured the old-fashioned flavour of living, including furniture, knick knacks, clothes and music.
Andrew MacDonagh, who manages the eclectic market, said buying vintage is all about identity.
“It is all about character and personality. Vintage has a tale to tell,” said Mr MacDonagh, who started out with a stall in the market and ended up in charge of the place.
Perhaps the vintage revival had something to do with the recession and the stress of living in uncertain times.
“People are reaching out to nostalgia,” he added. “It reminds people of simpler times, their memories as a child.”
Speaking about the challenge of buying items to sell as vintage in Cork, Andrew said it was “the eternal gamble”.
“With vintage dealing, the thrill is in the chase. It is all about finding the best items and matching them with the ideal customer.”
Mr MacDonagh said being a vintage dealer is more than a job, it is a personal interest.
“As a dealer, you see the use in everything and you are learning all the time. You buy things on instinct and hope that it works out.“
A new addition to the Cork vintage scene is The Village Hall on Patrick’s Quay, which was reopened in 2016 by Jackie Browne and Ciaran Magill. With more than 30 years of experience of buying and selling, the pair opened the building as a vintage shop and arts venue and in a short space of time, the place was thriving.
Now in the capable hands of Ciaran’s daughter Aisling and her partner Dan Spence, the place plays host to a number of community events including dance classes, gigs, talks, vintage cinema evenings, and vintage kilo sales.
“’Vintage is in the blood now,” Aisling Magil told WOW!, while pottering about the coffee dock of The Village Hall.
Aisling and Dan moved home from London where they had been working in the film industry with Pinewood Studios.
“I was working in marketing and Dan was an operations supervisor. Cork is a different way of life, but we love it.
“There are so many things available to you in Cork and so easily too. In London, it would take you two hours to go to a gig.”
Looking after The Village Hall was a welcome change of pace for Aisling and Dan, who also welcomed their first child Teddy into the family not too long ago.
“We had a huge lifestyle change recently and we are loving it.”
Speaking about the different roles that are undertaken by the family in the business, Aisling said she looks after the marketing, while Dan, Ciaran and Jackie work together to fill the shop with an eclectic mix of items to intrigue and delight their customers.
“We dress and change the shop on a daily basis. We get new stock every day, it is great fun. It is like decorating your house every day. It is a very mercurial experience.”
Discussing the market, Aisling said they now sell vintage and pre-loved clothes to cater for the younger crowd.
“In the vintage market at the moment we have a bit of a situation where students and younger people are into Hawaiian shirts and shell jackets from the nineties and they are not quite vintage yet, so we say they are pre-loved.
“Also, sometimes we see something that might not be too old but it is quirky and cool, so we would buy that too. As long as it has a vintage look to it and it fits in with the ethos of the shop.”
Aisling said rather than a vintage revival, she feels the modern phenomenon of buying old clothes and furniture is more of a vintage expansion.
“There have always been people who just like older stuff, they were born in the wrong era or something, a bit like myself. But now there is a new type of shopper, the type that are not into second hand but are mad for Hawaiian shirts and shell jackets. Millennials, I suppose you would call them.”
Aisling said in order for them to survive as a business they needed to incorporate the modern tastes of the youth.
“It is our responsibility to make sure that we adapt as well as keeping our traditional customers happy.”
The Vintage Kilo sales, which are organised monthly by Aisling at the Hall, are a popular event with fashionistas, trend setters and curious shoppers alike, but seem to really attract the new young vintage shoppers. The vintage kilo sale allows customers to buy clothes in bulk and simply pay for the price of the load.
“We buy big bales of clothes imported from Holland, UK, US, Greece and Spain as well as from markets across Ireland. People love them, they are a great way to pick up amazing vintage bargains.”
I headed to The Village Hall monthly Kilo Sale to handpick a vintage steal among the array of unusual garments selected from all over the world. Walking into the hall filled with colourful clothes and interesting outfits gave me a unique adrenaline rush that can only be compared to dropping off the peak of a rollercoaster ride. If you like shopping and you love hunting down a bargain, than the Kilo sale will bring out the very best in you.
There is an instinctive compulsion to rifle through the rails, waiting for a flash of colour, texture or cut of fabric to stop you in your tracks and compel you to find out more. We were in the building five minutes when I was laden down with things to try on for size — everything from army attire to pink suits, purple fur coats and silky skirts.
It is a sale that most certainly has something for everyone. All styles and sizes were catered for with glittery sequins, suede and leather: no trend was ignored in the selection process.
Another interesting element to the sale was the large collection of dress up clothes on offer for the adventurous souls looking to prance about the streets dressed head to toe in a cow or clown outfit.
Failing that, there were glittering suits and tweed jackets, which could all be put to good use on the right occasion.
After a most interesting fashion show of sport shell jackets, cut off 501 Levis and striped suit pants, I had chosen two kilos of clothes to take home as my very own.
I came home with a man’s army jacket, (which I later sold on to a buddy), two silk skirts, a pair of denim Levis shorts, a North Face Jacket (in perfect condition) and some striped suit pants. €40 well spent.
It was an incredibly enjoyable morning, spent meandering through decades of outrageous trends and styles, that made me laugh, smile and even frown in utter disbelief.
If you like to stay up to date with fashion or you are a 1960s soul trapped in the 21st century, it’s time to ditch the high street and take a trip down memory lane.
The next Kilo sale at The Village Hall is on Saturday, September 1 , 11 to 5pm.