Saturday, April 15, 2017

Spring and Vintage Go Together Like.....

On an overcast Sunday last weekend I boarded the Greyhound for my annual pilgrimage to Gadsden's Vintage Clothing Show held at Wychwood Barns (above photo) in Toronto every Spring and Fall.  The venue is a century old streetcar repair barn that has been transformed into a community arts hub with spaces live/work studios, not-for-profit organizations, and an event venue, where the Vintage Show takes place.

I was really happy with my outfit - It was very comfortable, and I felt put-together but still casual and funky - basically a quintessentially "Me" outfit.   The jacket is super soft vintage suede, made in New Zealand, that I found at Talize the day before; the pants are from From Mars, as are my Fly London shoes.

close up view of my Texas-themed necklace purchased at the Toronto Vintage Clothing Show a few years ago, and my silver sombrero earrings from The Sentimentalist.

As it was the Spring show, I was looking for lots of colour - bright, bold patterns and solids. The majority of the vendors did not disappoint.  Clockwise from left:  fabulous Kritzia print dress at Nouveau Riche Vintage purple and pink Miss Peg Palmer dress from;  statement jewellery from vendor from Montreal, who said he has no store and no website.

These blindingly bright pieces are from the Karen Jeffery Collection.   I was particularly drawn to the Marimekko tunic on the left.

J and J Antiques had a display of lovely pastel and floral print dresses, as well as colourful vintage textiles and linens, and some unique items like the rare carry-case for 78 rpm records in the bottom right photo.

Even though this wool poncho is more autumn than spring,  I loved the colour combination, and the fact that it belonged to the seller who wore it in the 1970's.  I thought I had picked up one of the seller's cards so I could mention the name of her store, but alas, it disappeared between the show and home.  If anyone knows what booth this was, please comment or email me.

I seemed to be drawn to all the orange at this show - here is another bold, cozy piece that could be layered over a t-shirt and jeans on a chilly night from What'll I Wear .

This spectacular hand-embroidered dress is from the early 19th century and was most likely made for a special ceremony.  It was available at Gadabout Vintage, which has an excellent collection of embroidered textiles.

Anther beautiful piece from Gadabout; the cuff and back detail is exquisite

Phoenix Vintage was packed with fabulous stuff. The owner, Madge Golleran, is in the photo above on the right, and the woman on the left was assisting her.  I first noticed the glorious dress that is on the rack between them - it has lacing down the entire left side of the dress.  Alas, it was too small for me, or else I would have tried it on.

The woman in the collage above is wearing a ballerina print cotton dress that reverses to become a solid yellow dress.  Above right is a Thierry Mugler jacket with beautiful corset detailing, and the fabric on the bottom right is a stunning, heavy cape.  All items from Phoenix Vintage.

These adorable gingham bra tops from Norma's Vintage Styling and Costumes would look great with a pair of high-waisted, wide-leg pants

I found what would be THE perfect prom dress for the right girl at  The form-fitting, ribbon-embroidered evening dress had fabulous fluttery, pleated, chiffon scarves that flowed from each shoulder and it was priced at just over $100.  Why anyone would pay two or three times that amount for a mass-produced, cheaply made polyester dress when you could have something like this is beyond my comprehension.

You can always find a treasure trove of unique accessories at the show.  The lucite bags in the top photo are from McCool's, and the ones on the bottom were at a booth with no name, run by a woman who didn't have a card.

I picked up this lovely, made in Japan, beaded bag from Maple Glen Antiques.  It's a slightly darker shade of green than shown in the photo.

Yank Azman and his wife Pulver had an impressive selection of vintage compacts at their booth

As much as I enjoy looking at the stuff, one of the main reasons I go to the show is to see and talk to the people.  There are usually a number of vendors and shoppers who dress to the nines, and even though this show was rather sparsely attended, I managed to find a few worthy subjects.

 I saw several redheads at the show, and this one had the perfect outfit, right down to the accessories. 

I spied this young woman in pink several times but wasn't able to get a shot of her from the front

 I ran into another redhead - my friend and fellow Londoner, Linda - at the show, and she took the photos of me at the beginning of this post.

One of the vendors, Andrew Zegers, is known for his fantastic shoes.  The Prada shoes he was wearing for this show did not disappoint. 

I've attended this particular show enough times that I am familiar with many of the vendors and the show provides an excellent opportunity to catch up.

I look forward to seeing Samantha Howard, who brings the most stunning pieces of mid-century Canadian and Scandinavian jewellery to the show.

Instagram has proved to be an excellent way to connect with like-minded folks in the vintage community, and I had been following @retrouverbiz for quite a while, so it was a treat to meet the people behind the page.  Wendy, on the right, is the shop owner,  and Sherry, on the left, does the Instagram, and I forced (perhaps badgered is the right word) them to pose for a photo with me.

I worry about the future of smaller vintage shows like these.  Sunday's show seemed to have fewer people there to shop than I had seen previous years and as it was a nice day, the weather didn't seem to be a factor.  Is the audience for high end vintage clothing and accessories getting smaller, or are the prices driving away the younger shoppers who want to find something for $20?  Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.


  1. Have always wanted to attend this show.

  2. First, you look awesome! I love this whole outfit, but the pants, the pants! No wonder you fell for them. It looks like a fantastic show and I like the photos you've taken of all these cool women.

    I am disappointed that the turnout was down. Most of the vintage shops in downtown Vancouver have moved out - too expensive. Some consignment shops are moving in, but they are more expensive and feature brands and on-trend products. And the vintage section of one of my fave vintage shops that remains is slowly being taken over by their section selling new T-shirts. (You saw it when you were here.)

    I wonder if the bigger stores like Talize and Value Village are negatively impacting these smaller shops. There should be room for everyone. Maybe this was just a glitch year. I hope so.

  3. I have found that there's too much repetition in the small vintage shows, so I only want to go to them once a year instead of every 3 months. The big show here continues to be well-attended, but I'm frustrated by the lack of actual vintage at it (selling things that look vintage isn't the same!).

    I gasped at that embroidered robe - what an amazing piece!

    1. You're right about the repetition - I've gone to shows where I've seen the same pieces that were at the show last year, and the prices are still the same. This show is pretty good in that there is still genuine, good vintage to be found, but as the supply dwindles, the prices get higher, and those of us who would wear it can't afford it.

  4. If only I knew the answers! These fairs are our livelihood and there's a huge downturn in trade this last few months. A lot of the fault lies with the event organisers, not vetting new traders. A stall full of non-vintage and cheap high street tat with the labels removed puts off the punters. Running events too often, good weather (who wants to be inside on a rare sunny day?), expensive admission costs, overpriced stuff, traders with poor customer service skills, no facilities to try stuff on...the list is endless!
    That psychedelic maxi should be in my wardrobe.
    You look phenomenal. I love your cowboy necklace! xxx

  5. That looks like it was a lot of fun!!
    I've been wondering about the drop-off of interest in vintage as well. Partly, I think it's just the usual downturn in the fashion cycle and that eventually interest will go up again. But also, a couple of my younger aquaintances have told me that they just don't want to spend more than 10 or 20 dollars on a piece of clothing. And they often get clothing at places like Walmart or Costco. That leaves just the long time vintage enthusiasts buying vintage and the occasional younger person who wants more style and quality than can be gained buying clothing at the big box stores.

    1. It makes me wonder if the market for good vintage will continue to get smaller. It's such a shame that people in their teens and 20's seem to prefer to spend money on cheaply made clothing that has been made in China or India by people who are working in dangerous conditions and not making a living wage.

  6. So much to love about this post. You and your ensemble. The brilliant photos and writing. The vintage pieces that are astounding. The people at the show!

    I hope that the low attendance does not mean that a show like this will not survive. I would have been in vintage heaven! I would hate to see it go away!

  7. who knows why people don't attend shows. I'd go, if there were any in my area. I do have something to say about having to pay to get in: I know the people that run events earn their living that way, but to charge the public to basically go shopping seem nuts. Do I really need to pay $10 to shop? Don't the venders get charged a fee to sell? That $10 could be the difference of buying or not buying something.

  8. A great post, I would love to go to this amazing fair! Lots of Wow factor and lots of interesting people attending. Your outfit is fabulous, as always, and thanks for introducing some of your vintage friends. :) xx

  9. you look gorgeous in your comfy&cool outfit, I love your fabulously shaped pants and those flylondon shoes!, and your Texas necklace is amazing!
    So lovely to see a vintage fair and chat with vendors!, I like every piece you've commented, particularly that statement jewelry by a mysterious vendor!. And those big bold colorful prints, oh yes, I love your selection of fabulous pieces, that marimekko shirt, the beautiful maxi dress (sorry it didn't fit you!) and all those cute bags!
    Obviously, all those interesting people make everything even better, so great that you could chat with them!
    I've no idea why people are not so enthusiastic with vintage as it deserves!. There are some younger people interested in vintage here, and sometimes they're the only ones that really buy and wear it, but it's a very different culture about vintage here in Spain.

  10. I'm so interested to read your thoughts and these comments! Thank you for such a great and thorough review! I have to say too, that I'm a BIG fan of Retrouvez, and their perfectly-curated Insta feed.

    I thought about this show and felt like I should go - but I have to agree that the admission is steep, it's in an inconvenient location for me, and I know and love so many of the vendors, but nothing in the advertising for the show made me think I'd find clothing that was great for my everyday enjoyment - I don't need party dresses an over-the-top stuff. You showed more in your pictures to encourage me to go than I saw in the lead-up. I just want a statement jacket or scarf, a good bag, a smart piece of jewellery or unusual shoes that work for work. I usually budget about a hundred dollars per show, and like to buy at least one good thing. Admission and parking does cut into that.

    Your featuring the individual vendors and what they brought is also what more shows need. A generic idea of vintage isn't a draw for me - that flat of jewellery from the mystery vendor is giving me regrets!

  11. Well, this was GREAT fun! I loved your pants, your necklace, the Krizia dress (you know, the one that wouldn't fit me?), the necklace of ovoid shapes from the vendor who eschews social media, the carrying case for 78 records, the Thierry Mugler with the external ribs (you know, the one that wouldn't fit me?), and if Samantha Howard has Ed Wiener jewelry, I'll die of apoplexy (so it's better I not find out). So weird to hear of low rates of attendance, and of youngsters not liking vintage. I thought it was just a NY/high rent phenom. VERY troublesome to hear that it's elsewhere too. Can't blame the youngsters - they wear what they understand, they understand what they see, and they see tee shirts. And yes, high admissions drive people away, so we need to find a place that's affordable to vendors. Maybe city planners need to be in charge of that? Wouldn't it be win-win? Don't cities like it when their citizens make money they can pay taxes on?

  12. Hi Shelley, good to see you, and looking so damn cool too!
    So many fabulous pieces to drool over - I'm going back for another look! xx

  13. Your pants! They are the best and you wear them with aplomb.
    Don't know nothing about thrifting or vintag-ing...or buying for that matter.

  14. It was amazing to meet you! You are a very special woman, your sense of style is an accessory to your awesome nature. I really need a pair of those pants! Xoxo