Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair arrived in Highfield on Saturday 11th February, providing Southampton students and locals the chance to shop for fashionable clothes and accessories of yesteryear at reasonable prices. Being not exactly the trendy type myself (is trendy even the trendy word now?) I headed to Garden Court to see what all the fuss was about.
The first thing I noticed was that there was plenty on offer besides clothing. Being comfortable in my customary Levi’s and Nike shoes I was happier browsing the pocket-watches and the stack of maps from the 1950s. But I was quickly drawn in to looking through the tweed jackets and old military uniforms. I spoke to some Southampton students to find out more.
English undergraduate Cat Olley told me she struggled to find quality vintage wear around Southampton so usually shopped in her home town of London. “Albert Road in Portsmouth is also worth a trip” I was informed. Her outfits are usually inspired by her love of sixties style and modern cultural icon Dita von Teese.
One seller that caught my eye had among other items a collection of old-fashioned smoking paraphernalia including an amazing brass globe which doubled as a cigarette dispenser. It was this that really pulled me in to the vintage idea – obviously anachronistic though it was I really wanted to buy it and give it pride of place in my Portswood flat. It just wouldn’t have looked right on the Ikea table though so I left it there and reluctantly moved on.
Continuing to peruse the stalls I was intrigued by Made at the Wishing Well and their charming collection of home made jewellery. “They’re handmade from toys” I was informed by stallholder Felicity. Among the wares were charm bracelets made from Monopoly playing pieces and one with tiny figures of characters from Snow White.
Chatting to Josh Adams and Nada Banna, chemistry and economics and management students respectively, Josh laughed when I asked if he’d found any bargains. “There’s lots of women’s stuff but not much here for men” he complained, before telling me H&M is the place he normally goes to find decent menswear at reasonable prices. Nada had found a necklace with a heart pendant that had taken her fancy.
I did agree with Josh’s observation. If tweed jackets aren’t entirely your thing, men, then Judy’s probably isn’t the place for you and perhaps a trip to Beatnik Emporium might yield more success. But I continued browsing having been pointedly reminded it was Valentine’s day in a few days and this might be the place to spot that unusual gift.
Francois Lewis and Holly Warren were having the opposite problem to male shoppers. “There’s too much choice!” I was gleefully told. They are regulars at vintage fairs and seemed delighted at all the bargains on offer, including an amazing patterned shirt that was a mere fiver. Shopping fanatics, the two of them were off to West Quay straight after Judy’s fair to continue looking at clothes.
As Judy’s vintage fair wound down I reflected upon the day. For a lot of the stallholders and some of the attendees, vintage is as much a way of life as it is a style. Katy O’Brien told me as she looked through some of the knitwear, “People flock to these vintage fairs to find bargains but they also find comfort in being reminded of a time of different values and a different pace of life.” I was starting to understand the yearning for all things retro, if not entirely ready to ditch the modern high street brands myself. It is a shame the event wasn’t better publicised and attended but for those who were there, a great afternoon’s shopping was had.