Vintage fashion helps women learn new skills

Vintage fashion helps women learn new skills

It recently celebrated its first birthday with a vintage fashion show.Amanda Peters, one of Vintage Vision’s founders, said they were prompted to establish the organisation by a lack of social enterprises aimed primarily at women and their skills.She added they were also concerned about the number of old clothes simply being thrown away and wanted to explore ways of recycling them.”We also wanted to offer volunteering opportunities to people trying to get a foothold on the career ladder and gain some valuable work experience,” she said.Amanda says that through a mixture of word of mouth, friends and contacts they gathered together a group of women who shared a common interest in vintage fashion, recycling and supporting other women.When an empty shop in Abergavenny became available they negotiated a lease with the landlord and were loaned the money to start up.On the shop’s opening day 27 women turned up to help get the shop up and running and supplied stock and fixtures and fittings for the shop.Since Vintage Vision opened in September 2009 they’ve run sewing workshops at the back of its premises.Women with a variety of sewing skills or none at all have learned a variety of dressmaking skills.They range from customising pre made clothes to creating bags from donated material and making prom dresses from bridesmaids’ outfits given to the shop.They’ve also worked with schools and organisations such as Women’s Aid and Sure Start running sewing and crafting workshops.Amanda says that Vintage Vision has provided women of all ages across south east Wales an opportunity to meet other like minded people with shared interests and make new friends.”Some of the older women who’ve got a large amount of experience in sewing and dressmaking have been able to mentor and help out the younger ones,” she adds.”Sometimes older people can feel more socially isolated Vintage Vision has provided a place where women can share their skills, reminisce about fashion and style, and share their stories and memories.”One older lady who came along to our sewing classes now regularly works in the shop as a volunteer.”The shop has also inspired customer and shop volunteer Rosie Cribb to set up her own online vintage fashion business, Retrobelle.Rosie who’s based in Usk says; “I started volunteering with Vintage Vision after taking redundancy from my job this year.”I’d already thought about setting up a business but working at the shop gave me additional experience and business knowledge. It also gave me the opportunity to network and make new contacts.””It’s been great working in such a supportive environment and I very much hope that I’ll be able to work with them in the future.”Amanda says that customers travel from all across south Wales to the store for its eclectic mixture of stock.”We define vintage clothing as anything from the 1880s to the 1980s. Our customers have a definite idea of what they’re looking for when they come into the shop.””The 1980s patterned jumpers are really popular with younger customers and camel and fur is also very much in demand.”There’s also been a big resurgence in popularity for 1950s clothes.”At the heart of Vintage Vision’s ethos is their desire to recycle fashion, rather than throw it away.”Around 70% of all the clothes given to charity shops end up in the bin and thrown away, which is an absolute scandal,” said Amanda.”Other charity shops regularly give us clothes that they can’t sell which are just what our customers are keen to buy.”In October 2010 they celebrated their first anniversary with a Vintage Fashion show in Abergavenny’s Market Hall.