We’ve turned to Blanaid Hennessy, stylist, presenter and Shutterbug store owner, to give us the skinny on all things vintage.
1. To the untrained eye and to uneducated buyers, vintage can be a daunting and disastrous business. What are your top tips for vintage virgins?
Unless you’re a specific collector, I think the same rules apply for vintage as for buying any style of clothes! Make sure the fit is right for your shape, that the quality matches the price and that the piece is suited to your current style and wardrobe. I would say though that when it comes to vintage, I personally never buy pieces that need to be fixed, as invariably I’ll never get around to it and it becomes a total waste of money!
2. A lot of people expect vintage shopping to be very expensive. What is the key to vintage shopping on a budget and how can customers be sure they’re getting value for money?
There are so many amazingly affordable vintage stores all over Ireland, most of whom are on Facebook, so definitely start with a quick search online! Prices can vary drastically, but stores who stock clothes from an older era, or clothes that are more difficult to find, do have to pay more for their finds and therefore have to charge that bit more. What really matters is how much you love the piece – it can cost €20, or €100, but if you truly love it, you’ll find it hard to leave behind at any price.
3. Are there any warning signs to look out for that a shop/garment may not be legit?
Unless you’re a collector of a specific designer, you’re better off forgetting about ‘labels’. A lot of items do not hold labels. They were hand made for special events of their time!
4. What is your favourite vintage piece that you’ve found?
I have a vintage rhinestone cocktail ring that I found for €5.00, yet it genuinely looks like a full-on diamond ring!
5. What first inspired your love of vintage?
I’ve always loved the uniqueness of second hand and vintage clothes, spending much of my teenage years in charity shops and musty basement vintage stores, picking up suede coats and leather bags.
6. How would you describe your everyday look and how do you dress it up at the weekend?
My style is probably best described as overdressed for the occasion, and underdressed for the weather! The only difference between what I wear during the week and at night out is that I put even more black eyeliner on, and backcomb my hair that touch more – pretty much everything else is the same!
7. Are there trends in vintage fashion, such as a Mad Men-influenced increase in 50s style clothing, or a Downton Abbey-inspired 1920’s revival? And do catwalk trends influence buying patterns?
There is certainly a lean toward the delicate and intricate detailing of the Downton dames. However – for Shutterbug, we are being inundated with requests for everything associated with an early 90’s wardrobe. It’s a very cool, effortless, affordable and easy look. The most important thing is that people feel like their piece is unique and not just off a rack of multitudes on the High Street. They want the current trend combined with the individuality of a only-one-in-stock situation.
8. How did you and your brother come up with the concept for Shutterbug and how has it developed over the years?
It started life as a media business in 2004 – Eoin in photography, while I worked in radio, print and styling. We managed to get our hands on a space with fantastic potential in 2010 – an old bank with beautiful big windows. It took quite a bit of graft but we managed to get the place open in May 2010, with the front space operating as an office.
We had always planned to have a multi-use space, but the store happened sooner than planned, purely because the space was just too big for the office alone. Our dream business was a space where you could shoot, style and sell – and we feel very fortunate that we’re getting to do that at the moment.
9. Tell me about some of your favourite pieces that you have in stock at the moment?
I’m a big fan of the military and denim shirt trend – they’re just consistently growing in popularity, so I plan on wearing them myself quite a bit this Summer. I also love our vintage kimonos and sequin bits too!
10. You’ve worked extensively in TV and as a stylist and journalist, are you working on anything exciting at the moment?
I’m actually working on what I think has been my most challenging and exciting project to date – a Vintage Kilo Sale. It’s part of our yearly ‘Absolut Style at Set’ Easter event in Langton House Hotel. Instead of price tags, shoppers pay for clothes by the weight, at just €20 per kilo. I’ve seen it before in Berlin and London, and just thought it was a fantastic idea, a really innovative way to shop for vintage. It’s also incredibly wallet-friendly, as you can get anywhere from 3-6 regular items in a kilo.
Absolut Style at Set Vintage Kilo Sale, 7/8th April, 11am-4pm Langton House Hotel, Kilkenny. www.facebook.com/shutterbugshop
- Gillian BrettTweet