The founders of vintage showroom Vintage Labels, set up to inspire designers, tell Laura Jackson about sourcing, selling and secrecy.
Your business has been going for a year now – where did the idea come from?
Nicky Albrechtsen I trained as a textile and knitwear designer before becoming a buyer for Fenwick and then a costume designer for the BBC for 10 years. When I had my children I decided to go into freelance styling, and my collection of vintage pieces began then. The first bit of vintage supply I did was providing Topshop online with product for its vintage channel.
Lauren Campbell I had studied accessories design and worked trend spotting for a number of buyers, but the idea of sourcing vintage items as inspiration for designers really excited me. We paired up because my mum was Nicky’s kids’ tennis coach and we found out about each other that way – I think we are probably the only two people from Woodford Green so into vintage.
How do you source your product?
NA A mixture of ways. We spend every Friday morning at Portobello market buying and selling, and then we visit charity shops and vintage fairs. Spitalfields has some good stands, and we also find international product via vintage websites.
LC It is becoming harder to find good vintage. Everyone wants it, whereas a few years ago it wasn’t so much on the mainstream fashion radar.
What makes a piece worthy of getting into your collection?
NA It is instinct more than anything. It could be anything from a print on a dress to a collar on a shirt that we see as important. Sometimes there might only be one relevant piece for us in a shop, other times there could be 10. I think Marks & Spencer’s 1960s prints are some of the best prints we have found.
LC We have been doing this for a year now and we’ve really honed our selection skills. Often we’ll only have a piece in the studio for half an hour before someone comes in and buys it. Our clients rely on us to tell them why we have picked up certain pieces and their relevance. Sometimes pieces will be falling apart because they are so old but will have this stunning beadwork that will sell to our clients immediately.
How do you sell your product?
NA It is by appointment only – we can’t have two clients in here at once as we have to be protective about their design privacy and we don’t want catfights for the same piece. We then sell or hire
out the pieces.
LC Often our clients will give us a brief first for the kinds of things they want. This is becoming more common.
What clients have you worked with?
NA Most of the high street come through here, but we don’t like to say who for confidentiality reasons. We also have some of the high-end couture designers from Paris and Milan, and trend website WGSN shoots its vintage trend pieces here once a month. One of the hardest parts of this job is getting designers to trust we know what we are doing, and we don’t just own a room full of old clothes. Our clients are increasingly becoming more trusting that we have our finger on the pulse of upcoming trends.
Where is your favourite city to shop?
NA: I am a fan of Glasgow. You can shop without the madness of London, and the buyers have a good eye in shops like Harvey Nichols.
Who is your favourite designer?
LC: I love Stella McCartney. I love that pyjama dressing look, with the harem trousers and all the silks.
Who is your fashion icon?
NA: I love the film stars of the 1960s – people like Julie Christie (pictured) and Diana Rigg. They just always looked so sexy but yet still laid back in the way they dressed.
What is your favourite shop?
NA: French Connection for everyday wear and Alberta Ferretti for statement pieces. They are so cleverly made. The work that goes into them is amazing.
- Nicky Albrechtsen and Lauren Campbell are the founders of Vintage Labels