Sunday, 5 October 2014

Vintage Shopping In Birmingham

Vintage Shopping in Birmingham Judy's Vintage Fair

I've travelled again up north to the Westmidlands to check out Birmingham's thriving vintage scene.  For weeks, I've been excited to visit the Vintage Kilo Sale at The Custard Factory. So, yesterday was the day to unleash my inner Dawn O'Porter and snap up some vintage bargains.

The Vintage Kilo Sale At The Custard Factory in Birmingham

The Vintage Kilo Sale is a fair with over five tonnes of vintage clothes and accessories. You pay a £3 entrance fee and then you can take whatever you want. At the end of your 'shopping', you weigh your bargains and pay £15 for every kilo you take out from the fair. Sounds great, doesn't it? With all the recent hype about vintage, I thought I should give it a try and who knew what I might find in this treasure trove of vintage delights? I might unearth a designer piece or a quality leather bag.

So Saturday was the day and I made my way over to The Custard Factory, Birmingham's creative quarter where you literally find one vintage shop next to another - the perfect location for such a fair. The event started at 11 am and I arrived a few minutes beforehand and got in the queue. People were already nervous and pushing aggressively like they would miss out on something. I had a gut feeling but I usually tend to prejudge things before I've even tried them. So I stayed positive to not be disappointed too quickly and I really wanted to give this experiment a try.

Vintage shopping in Birmingham at the custard factory
Vintage Kilo Sale Birmingham

I know many people love vintage and I hope you won't hate me for saying this, but I didn't enjoy it at all. The atmosphere wasn't right for me and there were a few things that really put me off. Some people were rude. 

They pushed the queue and the subsequent squeezing-off in a battle of "who goes in there first" was very stressful. Whilst I paid my £3 and the member of staff looked for change, an impatient girl behind me came really close. She pushed me to the side and literally pressed her money in the staff's hand so that she could enter the fair. Later, people would ignore you, push you away from the rails and behave completely crazy.

Vintage Shopping Birmingham
Judy's Affordable Vintage Kilo Sale in Birmingham

Lots Of... Old Junk At The Vintage Kilo Sale

In that scenario, I went over to the rails that were free and had a look through the clothes. Some of the stuff was so random, like these old costumes, and the 80's style was extremely dominant. I'm a child of the 80's and no thanks, I don't want to relive this era fashion-wise ever again. Some fashion and I mean in particular shoulder pads, have a reason why they never made a comeback in my wardrobe.

Anyway, the fair also had mouldy handbags and a little jewellery section. I had a quick look through the pieces and didn't find anything that caught my eye. I think I'm not vintage experienced enough to distinguish between real vintage and junk.

Vintage Kilo Sale Birmingham with tonnes of junk
Vintage Kilo Sale Birmingham dirty blouses and clothes
Vintage Kilo Sale Birmingham Junk Jewellery
Vintage junk fashionin birmingham

Please don't get me wrong. There are nice vintage shops, like BS8 on Park Street in Bristol and I love Brick Lane and Portobello Road Market in London, but this one felt like a massive jumble sale. Some of the clothes looked ridiculous and were so wrecked and in poor condition, I would never even dream of to offer them to anyone. Some smelt horrible and were dirty.

I remembered what Dawn said about clothes which need a bit of love to shine, so I focused on the potential to see the bigger picture. Dawn always raved about the great quality of vintage clothes, but as hard as I tried I couldn't find it here. I know finding treasure takes time but this kind of 'bargain hunting' felt super weird. The material and fabrics of some clothes were greasy and didn't feel special at all. Others had cigarette holes and stains of indefinable liquids splashed all over. Yuck! I was extremely put off when I found a dress with bird poo on it. That was the moment I left.

Vintage Fair Birmingham at the custard factory

My Alternative: Vintage Shop Cow In Digbeth

I left empty-handed after 30 minutes and was disappointed. Should I've tried harder? This wasn't how I wanted to end my experiment and on my way back to the Bullring, I popped into a vintage store called Cow. It looked so much more fun and inviting than the fair. I had a look through their range and nearly bought a leather bag in Longchamp's Le Pliage style.

Cow Vintage Shop Birmingham
Cow Digbeth Vintage Fashion Shop in Birmingham
Cow Digbeth in Birmingham Vintage Shop

I hope I haven't upset or offended anyone, I'm just very honest and direct about my experience and I feel it hasn't worked out very well. I'm sure there are great vintage fairs and shops out there which I haven't discovered yet and I shouldn't be put off by one single disappointing experience.

Actually, this has helped me to understand my shopping behaviour more and vintage is still a field that I definitely like to explore outside of but I'm massively put off by smelly junk. I've realised I'm more of a high street shopper because I like the neat and tidy layout of shops and clean clothes. I do like looking and finding bargains but rummaging in containers is not my style. I value the appeal of vintage to own an individual quality piece but I'm inexperienced and can't decide whether I have a true vintage item in front of me or just cheap junk.

Thanks so much for reading,

Till next time,

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