Interview with Louise Sleigh of Catwalk Creative Vintage!
Our next feature in our interview series involves vintage lover Louise Sleigh of Catwalk Creative! A fanatic of authentic vintage clothes, accessories, costume jewellery and retro homewares from the 1920s to 1980s, Louise has made a success of her online shop and has an ever-increasing fan base online. All in all, Louise is certainly one to follow, enjoy!
What does the term Vintage mean to you?
The definition of the term ‘vintage’ is open to much interpretation. Consumers and certain well-known high street names, brandish this term around for anything that’s more than a season old or when they offer a line of clothing that’s in the ‘style of’ a certain vintage era. However to me, vintage means anything more than 20 years old, or in other words, clothing that dates after 1930 and up to the early 1990s. Merchandise that pre-dates 1930 I would consider ‘antique’.
What source of business do you think is the first port of call for vintage shoppers? Online or offline?
It really depends on what’s available in your particular area and also your time constraints. If trawling through rails and rails of clothing and accessories is your ‘thing’ or you prefer to try your clothes on before buying, then shopping offline would probably suit you best, especially if you have a tight budget. There are lots of vintage fairs around the North West area. My personal favourite is the Vintage & Textile Fair, organised by Decorative Fairs. It’s not the cheapest fair around, but in my opinion, it’s the best one for true vintage fashion connoisseurs. There are so many stalls filled with the best authentic vintage and antique merchandise. Plus, being in the ‘trade’ means I can get in early and grab all the best pieces!
However, if the thought of spending hours sifting through piles and piles of clothing simply isn’t what ‘floats your boat’, I would definitely recommend buying online in the comfort of your armchair. Working very long or unsociable hours means that we don’t necessarily want to spend our free time trailing around shops or stalls, unable to find the perfect vintage dress or accessory. That’s why shopping online has become so popular over the last few years and will continue to do so. There is also much more choice available online and if you’re looking for couture or high-end vintage, then sourcing it this way is by far the easiest.
Generally speaking, you should expect to pay a bit more for your vintage treasures when buying online. It’s really important to remember that genuine vintage fashion professionals spend a considerable amount of time sourcing their vintage merchandise (so you don’t have to). They also spend time cleaning (or dry cleaning), repairing, photographing, measuring, writing a description and generally getting the piece ready for resale. All this takes a lot of time and effort but will certainly be worth it. There’s nothing better than receiving a beautifully wrapped parcel containing your latest vintage find.
What first ignited your love for all things vintage?
I fell in love with vintage fashion during the mid-1980s when I sported a rather severe flat-top hair style. I was hugely influenced by the rockabilly and psychobilly scene which was massive during this time. And being from Wigan meant that I spent most Wednesday evenings at the ‘Alternative’ night at Wigan Pier. I loved bands like the Guana Bats and The Cramps. It was great fun and so very different from all that awful 80s commercial pop music and ‘big hair’ that was so prevalent during that decade. There was such a diversity of music back then, which was lucky, since I had a varied taste in music; everything from rockabilly and alternative to soul and jazz-funk. So the music went hand-in-hand with the fashion. I longed to look different from the crowd, so wearing vintage provided me with lots of great style opportunities – and still does!
Which businesses in the local area would you recommend our readers to visit?
In addition to my own website Catwalk Creative (of course!) and my Etsy shop, readers will enjoy the many vintage fairs that are now held in the North West. There’s too many to list here so I suggest readers visit Kitty Wink Vintage for links to some of the best vintage related businesses in the North West. Decorative Fairs is another site which I highly recommend.
Polka Dots and Pearls:
Deer Vintage Clothing:
Frock ‘n’ Roll:
Vintage Manchester (blog):
Planet Girl Vintage (Chester Road, Manchester):
If you’re interested in the history of fashion then please visit to the Vintage Fashion Guild. I’ve been a trade member for a number of years but you can visit the public forums and meet like-minded people. The VFG have a useful label resource department too and many other topics of interest, along with a directory of member websites. Trade members adhere to a strict Code of Practice so you can be sure you’re dealing with a vintage retail professional. There are members in the USA, Canada, Australia, Europe and the UK.
What advice would you give to a curvier figure for searching for the best vintage clothing?
Measure, measure and measure again! I can’t stress this enough. Measurements really are key to getting the right fit, rather than going by size alone. Sizes vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and in addition, vintage sizing is generally two sizes smaller than modern day guidelines. Once you know your measurements, find clothing that’s a couple of inches bigger so you have room for ease of movement. This advice applies no matter what your shape or size. Please visit my clothing size guide for tips on getting the right fit.
Who are your favourite people to follow on Twitter and Facebook?
Kitty Wink Vintage: Facebook ali.mcmath1
Kitty Wink Vintage: @AliceKittyWink
Vintage Fashion Guild: Facebook Vintagefashionguild
Vintage Fashion Guild: @TheVFG
And Business Boom Bolton @business_boom of course!
How does social media and networking fit into your daily working routine?
I use Twitter and Facebook every day. It keeps me up-to-date with what’s going on in an instant. I also use them to promote and update my followers with new arrivals on my website and Etsy shops. I also have a blog, Catwalk Threads Vintage, which is a great platform for discussing all things vintage related. I use my blog to promote others in the vintage world too. I’m also a member of Vintage Network Northwest which puts vintage businesses in touch with each other. If you have a vintage related business and would like to join, please visit Kitty Wink Vintage for more information.
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