“We’re not vintage snobs,” Laura Cowlbeck of Purple Haze Vintage explains, and this is certainly confirmed when stepping into her Fossgate store. Warm, welcoming and filled with chit-chat, the shop recently played host to presenter Dawn Porter and her entourage, who have begun filming for a new Channel 4 series ‘This Old Thing’. The show will explore the world of vintage clothing and aims to persuade cynics to stray from the identical, mass-produced garments of the high street and delve into the world of vintage.
“Some vintage shops have that ‘what are you doing here?’ attitude,” Laura tells us. “We’ve got something for everyone.”
Mutual friendships led to Purple Haze’s involvement in the show. “The stylist needed a vintage clothing shop, because the lady she was dressing was from Doncaster, and there’s not much of a vintage scene there,” Laura explains. “They were here for about four and a half hours. There was about nine of them, a stylist, a director, a producer…”
‘This Old Thing’ will celebrate vintage fashion, and attempt to convince anti-vintage shoppers that hand-me-downs are worth their time. The show aims to solve the public’s addiction to fast fashion and introduce them to unique, quality clothing, which Laura feels is especially important. “We don’t expect much anymore. We’re just happy with things breaking in two weeks, and we don’t take it back. That’s the attitude.”
“Dawn came in and her face lit up, she was so excited,” Laura tells us. However, the woman that accompanied her was not so enthusiastic. “She was very against vintage clothing. She was adamant she wasn’t going to go near any of it!”
This attitude can be noted in many shoppers, and while the recent years have seen a boom in all things vintage, people remain cautious. Laura feels this is owed to the stigma surrounding vintage fashion, with the incorrect synonymising of vintage with ‘cheap’ and ‘worn-out’.
The girls at Purple Haze are keen to reeducate shoppers, and to encourage them to stray from their high street comfort zones and delve into the world of vintage. “It might be second hand, but it is on a different level. You appreciate the work that has gone into these clothes.” Laura and her mother Carolyn are extremely passionate about their trade, and explain what sets Purple Haze apart from other vintage shops. “We have our own standard. A lot of vintage shops just buy, and put it all out. We don’t stock anything that’s below our standards. We wash, iron, grade and repair. We don’t put anything out that we’re not happy with.” Laura and Carolyn’s attention to detail and quality stock confuses some customers. “People think, ‘That can’t be second hand!’”
The girls recommend returning to vintage shops on a weekly basis, as stock changes regularly and is often dependent on suppliers. “Never judge vintage on first impressions. You’ve got to keep coming back,” Laura explains. For first-time buyers, they also recommend easing yourself into the vintage scene with accessories.
Purple Haze inspires customers to mix-and-match, and the girls are keen to boost people’s confidence in their shopping experience. “High street fashion gives you a safety net. Vintage takes a little more confidence.”
‘This Old Thing’ will comprise of six shows of 60 minutes, and will be aired early next year.