Hello again, Rockers & Rockettes!
Too long has gone by since I last published my new Vintage feature The Kids Are Alright: Radio Days Vintage Shop. Now, I'm providing a view of another vintage shop in the must-visit neighbourhood at Lower Marsh I'd found after reading Big Issue, an english charitable magazine to support the homeless with great cultural content. This time, you'll get a VIP view of the fabulous What the Butler Wore, ran by two partners who share this love and knowledge of 1960s-1970s fashion. I got to meet and greet Vicki, who was kind enough to show me around their awesome space filled with vintage goodies, complete with fun, unique decoration to match, and answer my questions about the shop, her experience studying fashion in St. Martins & being in the Mod/alternative scene in the 1980s. Here are her answers to my questions, enjoy!
How did What The Butler Wore come about, and grow into what we now find?
We actually started in 1995, in Portobello Road; our first shop was in a huge space, and we had little stock so initially it was divided with a vynil record store. We later had to move next door for a while, to a shop an excentrique millionaire granted us, but wouldn't stay for very long because we weren't the only ones allowed to use the space - unfortunately, the lady let homeless people sleep and use the space as a shelter and we couldn't afford to lose clients. We then moved here, to Lower Marsh, and have been in the same place for over 10 years!
What's the most important thing to keep in mind, managing your own Vintage Shop, from your experience?
Essentially, we need to find stock and clean it or mend it in case of minor flaws - we are very fussy about the quality and state of repair of our items. We also provide personalised service, which is why we don't sell online; if someone walks in looking for a 1940s outfit for a theme party and doesn't want to pay a lot of money for an authentic era outfit I can help them by showing 1980s dresses that were heavily influenced by the 1940s' styles and teaching how to wear them best, or when someone is looking for clothes for a TV production I can point them out in the right direction as to which clothes will suit the purpose best which - that is why you must be knowledgeable about what you are selling, to be able to teach your costumers about it and find out what they want and don't want.
What's your view on the current state of the Vintage market, considering the recent trends & globalised online market?
Well, the thing with online is that you must accept returns and a lot of people must be disappointed in their purchases; you can't try on, see the condition and feel the fabric of the item when buying on Ebay or Etsy! I for one, have always had an interest in fashion, and keep up with trends, which helps me cater to our own fashionable public that is looking for something they can't find in highstreet shops. People are a lot more open to vintage now, and I think Sex and The City, in the early days, played a major role in this change by showing the girls buying and wearing great vintage pieces they mixed with the rest of their closet, experimenting with their closets - most of our costumers do too!
What do you fancy the most about working in What the Butler Wore?
Hmm, being my own boss, getting apreciation from people and know different costumers through the store. It's really fun helping style and prepare fashion or theatre productions, for instance, or finding out what is right for someone - it may not be what they are originally thinking of, but I help by working out the perfect piece for everyone from what we have in the store.
What's your advice on vintage, and wisdom cupcake on life for my dear readers?
My advice is to always research what you're after, or else you may be fooled! You don't want to buy a vintage dress to find out it's actually last year's H&M. Go for what you like, rather than what is valuable and invest time and money - when buying a piece, check it over for wear and tear, mind how much the sizing and fitting have changed over the last 40+ years, is buying online always ask for measurements.
Have fun, don't take the rules too seriously! Don't mind age and body type rules, you have to follow your own style and mix and match.
Note: This interview was registered by dactilography notes so there may be minor mistakes, although none of the meanings or sentences have been altered from the original. Thank you.
If you're like me, you'll be feeling that curious bug to go see the shop for yourself... I hope you do, it's definately worth the visit! You can find it in 131 Lower Marsh, Waterloo, SE1 London or www.whatthebutlerwore.co.uk
I apologise for the lack of recent updates but I have been away from the internet, and won't be in Portugal until Sunday. Still, I've been taking pictures and preparing delightful updates so don't go too far!
Love & promise to write soon,