Today has been a day of vintage treasure hunting. It started off with the discovery of Merchant Archive where I had to pick up some Bordelle bras, sunglasses and and a vintage burlesque outfit for a shoot. I knew the shop was local as I recognised the address or at least I thought I did. But when I started down the road, I realised I’d got it wrong and it was in completely the opposite direction. Anyway, after what I expected to be a five minute stroll turned into a twenty minute power-walk, I finally arrived at the shop. It was totally worth the workout. Merchant Archive stocks a beautifully-merchandised selection of vintage clothes (and accessories and homewares), mostly Victoriana to the 1940s. Sitting alongside the definitely-not-musty bias-cut gowns and theatrical beaded headpieces are contemporary collections by under-the-radar labels such as Zambesi, AM Eyewear and Tracy Neuls which, as owner Sophie Merchant points out, is important as mixing the love-worn with the new is how she and her customers dress these days. I made sure I had a proper nose round the shop – an elegant, light-filled space – while Merchant gave me her backstory and packed up my goodies. I loved her display of sunglasses atop an old library filing system and got particularly excited when I clapped eyes on a pair of honey-framed Paloma Picassos. I talked myself out of a purchase but may give them another whirl when I go back on Wednesday.
My questionable time-management meant that I was late for my next appointment at Cassie Mercantile’s vintage showroom. No matter, owner Graham Cassie was in a happy-go-lucky mood so after a capuccino and chit-chat at the next door coffee-house, he took me to his lock-up to see if there was anything worth picking out from there. Wow! Who knew there were all these precious gladrags behind those anonymous wooden doors? After picking out a Yoko Ono logo T-shirt and a woollen military hat, I pointed to a mini-mountain of denim shirts in the middle of the floor. “What’s that, an installation?” I quizzed, only half-joking. “Och no, that’s just a pile of washing!” came the reply. Jeez, even his laundry looks chic.