Every child is a unique individual with her own personal sense of style – that’s why it can be a little disheartening if you turn up at a special event and discover another child in the selfsame outfit. That will never be a predicament, however, if you choose to celebrate your child’s distinct sartorial elegance by dressing her in one-off vintage finds. Ever since the rise in popularity of charity shops in the Seventies, seeking out fashion favourites from days gone by has become more and more in vogue.
“People want something that’s a bit different,” says Shona Patterson, fashion agent and vintage enthusiast extraordinaire. “They also love the nostalgia of it all. They might see a gorgeous dress and instantly fall in love with it, saying, ‘My sister had that exact same dress!’ It gives them a real sense of pride and pleasure to dress their children in the same style.”
The most precious finds may be from familiar brands like Clothkits, Laura Ashley or Marks & Spencer – when it had the old ‘St Michael’ label – because they evoke happy childhood memories. The appeal for parents is evident, but what about children? “At a recent fair, I sold a lovely Forties made-in-the-war, never-to-be-seen-again vintage dress to a mother for her four-year-old daughter,” says Shona. “The little girl loved it so much that she put it on straightaway and her mother was wowed by all the comments saying how pretty her daughter looked.”
Buying vintage is also the perfect antidote to today’s throwaway culture. “It’s about creating heirlooms, but not in a stuffy way,” says Shona. Part of the thrill is seeking out great finds and rummaging for an unexpected gem that literally makes your heart skip. Past fashions are also a rich source of inspiration for modern designers. “I never divulge who I sell to,” says Shona. “But I have lots of celebrity top-end household name clients looking for inspiration. I can tell by the names on the cheques!”
This article previously appeared in Junior magazine as a print article