Wednesday, 24 November 2010


Whenever I think about vintage, I remember those really wrecked Levi’s I bought for a shoot from Absolute Vintage in Shoreditch. They had seriously ambiguous sizing, cost £22 and didn’t even fit the model. I also think of the time when my friend and I waited for 15 minutes just to get inside One of A Kind in Notting Hill only for her to suggest that I buy a lacy nightie for £50. There have been countless times where I’ve thought to myself, why do I keep trying to sift through heaps of crap in hope of looking as cool as Alexa Chung when a) I don’t suit any sort of ‘out there’ patterns that are usually spread like a disease in many vintage shops and b) everything makes me look like my aunt Mildred.

However, there is something really smug and uplifting about someone complimenting you on your really unique top or whatever, asking where you got it from only to be plummeted into jealousy when you say you found it in some quirky little sale in a far away place. This rarely happens for me since I can never be bothered to make it to these fairs or sales.

So when at our ritual Sunday night x factor/ dinner night, a friend was talking about a vintage sale that was happening in a couple of weeks time, I blaséely (not sure if that's a word) asked if it was bloggable and after a nod from my friend, we all redirected our attention back to One Direction. A week later, I asked her for the details and emailed her two friends Lizzie Jackson and Florrie Thomas (both 22) about what it was all about and ended up in their studio one night to discuss things over.

I had had a look at their blog ( and realised I was drawn to their approach to vintage fashion. They had somehow made things look wearable and used models that didn’t necessarily make you feel fat and ugly in one go, but had concentrated more on how to make vintage contemporary by translating inspiration from the catwalk to their handpicked garments. The blog also gives style advice on how to wear certain items this season which I think is a great idea! Anyway, it drew me to their studio right near Putney Bridge.

I took Harry Walker with me again. I guess by now you’ve sussed that I bully him into these things and quite frankly I can’t do this stuff without nattering at him afterwards or during. What we hadn’t realised prior to the meeting was that we had already met Lizzie before at Newcastle University so it was a nice surprise to see her beaming face in the doorway before she led us inside from a truly heinous evening and immediately put the kettle on for a green tea – from University binges to green tea, god it’s only been a year! Despite having met each other before, the interview remained extremely civilized and professional. Florrie who is interning at Grazia hadn’t arrived yet so I took time to soak in the amazing studio and the rail of clothes that they had already very kindly displayed so that I could start rummaging. I have noticed of late that I have a tendency to grab and sort of man handle clothes whenever I’m looking at them so I decided to take it easy, especially when the girls had obviously taken so much time and preparation to make them just right.

You could tell that each garment had been carefully picked and the labels lovingly sewn…. ‘Yeah they’re sort of the bane of my life at the moment.’ Lizzie sighed. ‘I’m sewing each one on.’ It appears that despite my la-di-da preconceptions of the sale, the girls work to a specific process that is quite opposite to the flimsy idea I had in my head.

Looking at the rail, there were some surprisingly good pieces that were extremely classic and wearable for a variety of different occasions. Minimalist, silk, white shirts, pussy bow blouses, Breton tops, denim jackets and the odd Prada jacket! A lot of camel and leopard print kept popping up which was very in keeping with this season as well as a lush old flying jacket which is dying to be bought if you’re fed up with the mass produced Topshop ones. There seemed to be something for everyone. The collection looked contemporary and chic, in pure contrast to the offensive stuff that I initially associated with vintage. Little subtleties can be seen in the customisation e.g. Celine-esque leather pockets and elbow pads which were sewn onto the country type jackets or new ribbons on the shirts which will save you a trip to John Lewis. Each garment has been loved two times over and merely resuscitated rather than changed and the best thing about it is…they keep it simple. Everything is wearable… even the leather shorts. So far L & F had displayed a real respect for practicality and simplicity without losing the all important sense of trend and edge AND not a lacy nightie in sight so you can imagine my reaction to that!

The concept was insinuated at University when Lizzie and Florrie sold all their old clothes on EBay. However, Lizzie explained how bugger all profit was made. ‘We made a bit, but we were selling stuff that I would never sell with my name on it and we technically weren’t making a profit on anything because it was something that we had anyway.’ However, now it is clear that Lizzie is very happy sewing her name onto the items of clothing on this rail in front of me that she has hand-picked herself. Both girls said how hard it would be to let go of the pieces they have grown to adore. When asked who came up with the idea Lizzie answered, ‘I think both of us. It’s something that we’ve both thought about separately over the years and I got an email when I was in the library from Florrie being like ‘Shall we do it?!’ And I was like ‘yeah maybe we could’. This might seem a bit blasé or whimsical to the average eye but learning that the two of them had been friends since the age of 10 made me understand their relationship and its ease that had developed throughout years of groundwork.

So when Florrie entered the room, I then had a bigger picture of this dynamic duo. Watching them bounce ideas off each other and react to each other’s enthusiasm was a real treat. Even though they were two different, confident individuals with a distinct sense of style, you almost find yourself in safe hands... e.g. when you’re a bit of a tomboy like me who looks like a twelve year old when shoved in a frilly dress, it’s nerve racking spending money on clothes whilst following the style advice of a sales advisor who is wearing a pink baby doll dress and never worn a pair of jeans. However, even though Lizzie and Florrie have quite different style (Lizzie wearing a lot more shirts, trousers, boots and Florrie emulating the girlier look), the diversity proves to be an attribute when buying the clothes – there’s something for everyone.

So tackling the vintage problem…the difficulty and cringe all lies in the overboard. It’s horrible seeing people’s best intentions go really over the top ending up looking like, as Lizzie put it so delicately, ‘the East End’s been sick on them’. I mean obviously some people want that’ Lizzie carried on ‘but not that many people, and I also think it’s nice to keep it a bit more current. At the moment the high street is so expensive and obviously it would be lovely to have designer pieces but they’re just not really affordable for us and it’s nice to get something original without it being hundreds of pounds.’ Some of L & F’s stuff is really reasonable, the shirts sell from around £8.50 to £15 at the maximum and the same for tops. Don’t worry, there will be price tags so you can avoid that embarrassing question of whether your overdraft can take another hit simply because you can’t bear to put the item back on the rail in front of masses of people… the shame. However, it all seems very relaxed. When asked if they were going to give any style advice on the day, the girls are adamant on letting people style themselves. ‘Yeah that’s the thing’ explained Florrie, ‘we’re trying to make it so anonymous and not like ‘hi (in ditzy stereotype voice) my names Lizzie, my name’s Florrie, we think you should wear this! (with scary shop assistant smile).’ However, they are putting pictures of their shoots on the walls and mannequins with different outfits. ‘It makes it all very visual and ties in with people who maybe don’t have the imagination, which I know sounds patronising, but people can be scared of vintage and don’t want to look. And so styling it with your American apparel t-shirt or whatever makes people hopefully think ‘oh I actually could wear that.’ So that’s another aim. It all ties in with taking someone who doesn’t like the trawling around, doesn’t like the smell of vintage, maybe doesn’t have the imagination and making it all accessible’.

The main thing that interested me at this interview was the fact that it was like a chat between old friends and the common, creative interests that we all had. It wasn’t just fashion that had brought us together but the fact that we, like so many other young people, are stuck in a world where jobs which make you happy are scarce so try and keep the ideas flowing by doing your own thing on the side. ‘Well that’s what we’re aiming for’ states Florrie. ‘Our generation of people, just left Uni, needing something else going on rather than just their 9-5. We could ask people who have roughly made it but a) they won’t be as interested and b) everyone’s helping themselves by doing something creative. It makes it really fun.’ Florrie re-iterated this idea of inclusivity: ‘We want to make it a brand and we’re also trying to do what we’re doing but we want lots of other people, people who make films, people who make music, you know people who can all contribute to the brand, so we want people who are good at different things other than pretending we know everything because obviously we don’t an we don’t want to seem like that.’ I echo that this is the same idea that we have for Rookie Creative and how it’s important for us to help each other out. Well that’s the aim ‘like our friend Dohey (Georgia Doherty) is an amazing businesswoman, do you know her from Brookes (my university)? She’s got her own catering thing with loads of good ideas. Her cousin was also at Brookes called Ocki (my amazing friend who created the Rookie Creative logo). She’s really keen on getting all these young, entrepreneurial people to all work together and I think it’s a really good idea ‘cos it is tough for us.’ How…Very…True…I’m thinking.

So with that in mind Saturday will be more of an event. Music, people and even food and drink in the evening! Georgia Doherty is doing all the catering including some of her bespoke gingerbread houses…Christmas gorging is about to commence!

So what next for L & F? – A sale in the New Year and an attempt to tackle menswear…hhhmmm I think but Lizzie reassures me, ‘We’re probably going to lure them in with beer’.

Good luck Lizzie and Florrie and see you Saturday. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the day xx

The L + F launch sale is this coming Saturday 27th November, 1pm-8pm, 6 Burlington Lodge Studios, Rigault Road (Putney Bridge tube).

Sacha Harrison

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