Vintage clothing rail

There is an old saying about fashion being cyclical – well, of course, it’s true, and it’s brilliant too! It means we can find all sorts of vintage items that have endured the mean streets of yesteryear and are ready to rock again!

Many true vintage items are well-made ones – they have made it through without bursting at the seams, stretching out of shape or fading to a pale memory of former glory. They are the survivors – treat them with respect!

True vintage fashion can include the unbranded, the handmade and the high street – now the sought after as they become increasingly unique with every passing year.

It also consists of the upper crust vintage designer pieces which are often well documented, photographed and equally sought after. Is it just as exciting to find an old St Michaels label as an Ossie Clark labelled item? Hell no, but it is still quite a buzz to a true vintage fashion detective!

Black and white 1980s-90s Adidas zip-up track top
Black and white 1980s-90s Adidas zip-up track top

Vintage clothing is a continually changing phenomena; 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s – which decades are vintage, which only second hand?

Who decides the delineation of such things – the retailer, the buyer or the great hipster in the sky? It is a very subjective notion; the best advice is: if it’s cool and you want it, buy it!

The development of fabrics, sizing and manufacturing styles can all help to identify and age true vintage clothing.

Older fabrics can be more sumptuous and substantial than modern counterparts, well cut and assembled. Sizing can be an issue with preloved clothing, improved nutrition and exercise regimes mean we are generally bigger – taller and wider.

Changes in fashion and the move toward more comfortable clothing means we no longer require tiny waists and pointed busts. Sizing has developed, and a medium in 1960 could well be a small or extra small today. At Repsycho, we try to measure each older vintage item carefully and include the information in our listing.

Labels from retro brands can be really great too – some are pretty; some are small works of art, and some are simply nostalgic reminders of the past!

The great thing about modern fashion is there is no specific ‘in thing’ – wear what you like! Fashion through the ages has been used to denote your status and wealth.

Today it is more about how you feel, how you want to be seen, who do you like? We have the freedom to express ourselves – with preloved clothing we also have the affordability, well we do at Repsycho!

Post-war fashion blog article (pt.2)

Many of the gorgeous vintage items we see at Repsycho have an interesting label – research has proved that many also have an amazing history!

The British fashion industry certainly produced some cracking designs in the post-war era! Sadly, some of these design labels have left little information about either the designer or the label.

The Frank Usher label was started by Anne and Max Bruh, refugees from Nazi Germany, in 1946. Due to restrictions at the time, the couple bought an existing company and repurposed it- hence the totally unrelated name Frank Usher.

The brand was known as one that notes fresh, high-end details on the catwalk and used them to create affordable, ready to wear designs. Although sneered at by the fashion world at the time, Frank Usher clothes were popular, well made and flattering and they also stand the test of time.

Rhona Roy was a very nice brand, but little is known about it. It seems to have traded during the ’50s until the ’70s. It seems to have made really pretty cotton dresses very well! Dress patterns were also available.

There was a mainline labelled simply “Rhona Roy” and a line for teenage girls called, ‘Young ideas by Rhona Roy’.

Susan Small was a British ready-to-wear fashion label, best known for their party dresses and evening wear. They were often using exotic prints to create interest on the piece.

Founded by Leslie and Fay Carr Jones in the early 1940s Susan Small was joined by Maureen Baker in 1943 as head designer, she remained until the company closed. One of Baker’s most famous design projects was that of Princess Anne’s wedding dress in 1973.

In 1947, Susan Small joined forces with other fashion design companies including Horrockses and Polly Peck, to form the Model House Group. In 1953, Brian Duffy, later photographer and film producer, joined as an assistant designer, having studied dress design at Saint Martin’s School of Art.

In 1958, Model House Group became the Fashion House Group, headed by Carr Jones. Susan Small bought the label Jane and Jane (ran by Jane Muir in the early 60s) following Muir’s departure in 1966.

Dress labels are to be found bearing the name: Jane and Jane by Susan Small. It continued for several years before quietly disappearing circa 1970. In the 1970s Susan Small et al. were bought by Courtaulds.

Susan Small label
Susan Small label

The only information I have been able to find out about the Kitty Copeland brand is that it seems to have been operating in the 40s and into the 1970s. This information has been gleaned from discussions about dating items; otherwise, no other information seems to be out there, although there are plenty of gorgeous examples of the designs. Must have been very well made!

Wanting a new outlet for their manufacturing business, Lee Bender and her husband Cecil opened a new store in London in 1968, called BUS STOP. She quickly became synonymous with the popular clothing store for which she designed the collections.

An original idea at the time, designs were produced to co-ordinate – clothes could be easily matched with each other. Tops, jackets, coats and sweaters were made as matching ensembles, with the opportunity to purchase trousers, dresses, skirts and accessories to combine with your outfit or wear as separates.

Lee Bender’s designs were worn by famous names such as Brigitte Bardot, Marianne Faithfull, Pattie Boyd and Angie Bowie, but they were also affordable and suitably wearable to ordinary women.

Lee Bender at Bus Stop is now a collectable vintage label, and she has had her designs displayed in exhibitions alongside contemporaries such as Ossie Clark and Biba.

Shubette is a family business based in London which was begun by Jack Offenbach in 1913. Designing, producing and supplying British stores, they were known for women’s special occasion wear with beautiful detail and elegance while maintaining a fun and youthful vibe.

The company expanded internationally and became a leading fashion name which is still a family concern. Today Gina Bacconi is the power brand of the Shubette group and is still synonymous with glamourous event clothing.

Shubette label
Shubette label

John Bates was a designer who produced a label called Jean Varon (a more glamorous name than his own).

He started designing under the name Jean Varon from the late 1950s, and he is perhaps best known for Diana Riggs’ outfits when she starred as Emma Peel in The Avengers.

His style is typically glamorous, swirly, slightly boho, well made, lots of fabric and just all-round-gorgeous.

Anyone who was anyone in the 1960s and 1970s wore John Bates’ designs. Cilla Black got married in one of his designs, Julie Christie wore his dresses in the film ‘Shampoo’ and the fashion pages of Vogue were always filled with them.

Post-war fashion

Britain has produced some fantastic fashion since WW2, and some of its clothes designers are the most respected. Their creations have become extremely sought after and in terms of vintage fashion at Repsycho over the years we have picked up a few gems!

Mary Quant was the most iconic fashion designer of the 1960s. With an original take on design, Quant created modern, fun fashion, bright, colourful and bold.

She popularised the mini skirt, hot pants, the skinny rib jumper and brightly coloured tights– her designs are iconic. Mary Quant was central to the development of London fashion – simply put she dressed the ‘Swinging Sixties’.

In 1963 Mary Quant launched the Ginger Group Line to deliver cheaper, mass-produced goods to the populace. She also marketed cosmetics and underwear using the famous Quant daisy design. By the end of the decade, Mary Quant was the leading UK fashion designer.

Ossie Clark was a British fashion designer who became popular in the 1960s-70s. Many of his best creations were complemented by the fabric designs of Celia Birtwell- they became a creative and productive partnership in this era.

In 1971, shortly after their marriage, Birtwell and Clark were painted by their friend David Hockney in Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy which is on display at Tate Britain. They had many famous clients, including Mick Jagger, the Beatles and Liza Minelli. Peter Gabriel used a Clark creation for the cover of the Genesis album Foxtrot.

Clark’s designs were influenced by glamour; often romantic, free-flowing dresses, he liked to use printed silk chiffon and crepes, famously designing almost transparent pieces for his ‘Nude Look’. Menswear included ruffled shirts, silk scarves and snakeskin jackets.

Initially inspired by traditional handicrafts and Victorian patterns, Laura Ashley’s quintessentially English designs became very popular after one of her early scarf designs was worn by Audrey Hepburn in the film Roman Holiday. Founded in 1953, the company moved from Kent to Wales in 1961 and clothing bearing labels from this era are particularly sought after.

By the end of the sixties, Laura Ashley had developed its designs and was well known for its dreamy, floaty maxi skirts and dresses, and the stylised Prairie dresses are particularly associated with the brand. During the early 80’s the brand began to incorporate the frills and pin tucks of the ‘Sloane Ranger’ – an altogether crisper, posher look popularised by Princess Diana.

Ashley’s designs are easier to find than many other designers and maybe more affordable but are nonetheless indicative of several decades of British design.

Marion Donaldson began designing and making dresses at her own home for resale in local shops in the early 1960s. Specialising in mini skirts and dresses in the early years, her creations were flamboyant, modern, bright and pretty cool too! Initially selling to shops in Glasgow, the popularity of her designs grew, and she designed for the London market, at one point working with Liberty’s of London using their fabric- these designs became some of Marion Donaldson’s most successful.

Marion and her husband/partner David decided to remain designers/manufacturers- never having their own retail outlets like other famous designers, maybe partly explaining some lack of recognition for the brand and also some of the commercial rewards too.

The brand’s iconic art nouveau label was based on an oval mirror bought by the Donaldsons at an auction.

The Marion Donaldson brand has been credited with bringing ‘Swinging London’ to Glasgow, and she herself is sometimes referred to as ‘the Scottish Barbara Hulanicki’ (Biba). Marion Donaldson Ltd traded from 1966 until 1999, her designs are known for their quality and remain sought after today.

Janice Wainwright studied at Wimbledon School of Art, Kingston School of Art and the Royal College of Art in London. During the late 60s she worked as a designer for Simon Massey, in 1968 she began to work as a freelance designer. Her work during this period was bright, youthful and simple- she was one of the only designers to use Celia Birtwell textile design- a real sign of respect from the Clark/Birtwell partnership.

In 1970 she started her own label, ‘Janice Wainwright at Forty Seven Poland Street’, her designs were longline, flattering creations and often used jersey, crepe and chiffon. From 1974 she began to drop the cumbersome label name for just her own. A feature of her work was the different decorative techniques used.

One more designer that we have been lucky to stock clothes by is the fabulous Jean Muir. Unfortunately pictures are no longer available of these items, but such an interesting designer should not be forgotten!

Jean Muir worked, in the ’50s as a fashion sketcher and seller for Liberty’s in London, she was later employed as a self-taught designer by Jaeger. At the beginning of the ’60s, she established the firm Jane and Jane. In 1966 Muir started her own business with her husband, selling clothes to selected shops worldwide. Jean Muir’s clothes were known for their fluid lines and elegance. She particularly liked working with dark, plain colours in jersey, crepe and suede.

Although Muir was adored by the fashion industry and counted many stars and celebrities as her clients and friends, she considered herself a dressmaker! She was a hard-working, stickler for perfection, qualities which helped earn her a reputation for precise tailoring and exquisite design.

T-shirts clothing rail

Vintage clothing is brilliant, but for some, it’s just too much hard work; locating, fixing, cleaning, then it doesn’t bloody fit! Well, whatever your nut loaf with true vintage shopping, vintage-inspired could be the answer.

Vintage-inspired clothing is exactly that, contemporarily made clothing but using the styles of the past- primarily the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. The advantages are numerous:

Usually, they are spanking brand new- if you like that sort of thing!

Vintage-inspired clothing is more readily available than true vintage.

Vintage-inspired clothing has modern sizing- phew!

Obviously, with modern fabric comes modern care instructions!

The really amazing vintage-inspired piece will match a great vintage style with a really cool pattern design, perhaps something which would not have been popular in its original era but looks unique now- a modern take on a classic style.

This is the great type of vintage-inspired clothing we like to stock at Repsycho, and we’ve listed some of the brands that we have on offer below!

Run & Fly is a British brand based in Leicester, England. Known best for their iconic dino pinafore, the collection includes, sweet knitwear, cute dresses and cool shirts as well as many other fab items in a variety of designs and colours!

This brand includes some amazing retro prints of dinosaurs, buzzy bees, animal prints and flamingos to name only a few of their unique design repertoire! Run & Fly are a vibrant company, producing their clothing in England and giving contemporary and vintage styles an exciting and quirky modern twist. Run & Fly is full of funky character!

As its name conjures up the idea of Jimi Hendrix and psychedelia, the clothes of the Pete Chenaski Experience deliver! The brand has a range of shirts, polos and t’s that cater for all needs. Whether you want a cowboy shirt, a seventies shocker or a party frill this brand has something to please all.

Many Chenaski items are limited edition – making them quite exclusive and helping to ensure a unique look for their wearers.

During the 60s and 70s, Mod clothing was neat, sharp and above all hyper-cool. Madcap England specialises in vintage-inspired clothing from the Mod era. Madcap has created a stylish and colourful brand which is unique without being outlandish.

Its collection includes quality, knitted polo shirts as its cornerstone as well as smart jumpers, hip shirts, cool t-shirts and more. Madcap is named after Syd Barrett’s first solo album, ‘Madcap Laughs’ from 1970. Madcap clothing- not just for Mod’s!

Relco began as a specialist Mod outfitter during the sixties with sharp, neat designs and since then has developed to include more cool, retro and vintage-inspired styles including Punk, Ska and Skinhead styles.

Relco has a well-earned reputation for quality and stylish designs and products. At Repsycho we stock jackets, shirts and braces which are so exceptionally well made we will be expanding our range very soon!

As its name suggests, Real HOXTON London is a quality brand based in East London, concentrating on retro styles based on classic iconic great British styles from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s- with a modern edge.

Repsycho stocks a couple of lines from the Hoxton range which includes classic Monkey Jackets and some cool hooded raincoats.

Ada Binks is a unique jewellery and accessory brand based in Brighton. They are supplying retro-inspired statement pieces and limited-edition ranges made in a variety of colourful acrylic.

In-store, we stock a range of Ada Binks beautifully crafted dangly earrings and studs which complement both retro and contemporary clothing.

Maz Accessories, one of the UK’s largest hat suppliers, provide a finishing touch to an outfit. At Repsycho we stock top hats and fiddler caps for that extra bit of swish to your look.

Repsycho stocks Revive Eyewear in-store, providing cool glasses for men and women in a range of vintage style designs that will give your look the edge this summer!

The Grinders brand came to major prominence during the late 80s to early 90s when their boots spearheaded the new ‘work and utility’ street look which eventually ended up on the fashion catwalks!

Grinders street boots of today were originally worn by Skin Heads and then by Punks in the UK, who often only owned one pair of boots. Grinders had to be capable of withstanding anything the elements could throw at them, and yet still be comfortable enough to wear all day, every day!

Today Grinders Boots (and shoes!) continue to be made to that high standard, and they are unisex, stylish and hard-wearing.

Obviously, sweatpants and tops are a really popular choice, most of us have them and have had them for many, many year- maybe it’s time for an update?

This outfit from Fred Perry consists of a crew neck, long sleeved sweatshirt and tracky bottoms in loopback cotton. Slightly oversized, it’s designed with contrast piping in Floral Liberty London fabric. The bottoms have a colourful Liberty print side panel on the outside of each leg and an elasticated, drawstring waistband and side pockets.

Have a look at our Vintage Inspired range of clothing, we stock some great items but for living is lockdown surely a comfy pair of dungarees are the ultimate must have?!

We sell a range from Run & Fly in fabulous cord or a smaller range in twill fabric. The design are pretty cool- we have the iconic dinosuar design in grey or gold, a ‘Buzzy Bee’ and for the more cosmic among us an ‘Out of this World’ design of planets stars and rockets.

As better weather is apparently on its way maybe it is a good time to look for shorts for the garden and balcony- even if we cannot look forward to Wimbledon those of us with a garden can manage our own versions of the tennis tournament and it is important to look the part too!

With the good weather in mind don't forget that sunbathing is also an (in)activity where poor attire is a definite no-no. Most of us has gardens and balconies that are overlooked- keep up cool appearances with a retro swimsuit or possibly a groovy towelling headband!

It has to be said that living in isolation affects people in different ways; I have just been video talking with a mullet and his mini mullet son- clipping their hair with a beard trimmer seemed like a great idea at the time! Actually, toddlers look cute whatever the hairstyle!

Many of us have taken to living in comfortable clothing - pyjamas or sweatpants- the elasticated waistband is king for all now - not just the M&S shopper! However, it might be advised to keep some standards when we shrug on our lockdown attire- we wouldn't(hopefully) wear dirty clothes so why give in to the unattractive? After all most of us are regularly skyping, whatsapping and zooming- make sure you look your best!

Personally, I think it’s important to get dressed on a weekday, pyjama wear is a weekend pursuit which is even acceptable in a Covid-free society. So, for those of us who remain well enough to care, here are a few ideas for Corona-Fashion!

Tracksuits can also be a smart move as they are ideal for your daily exercise regime and there are many great options available.

This Adidas Tracky top is really cool and for a brighter, perkier look try one of our 80’s shell suit tops!

Pyjama Sundays can always be improved by an unusual twist! Bin the fleecy dressing gown- its too warm anyway and try a new look.

What about a vintage Hanro dressing gown with a buttoned high neck and flared 3/4 length sleeves. This amazing item has a full length, off centre zip closure. The geometric pattern is of blue and purple diamonds on a black background, blue trim- very striking.

Also available are several authentic, handmade kimonos for women and men. This full length kimono is black with a geometric pattern in olive green and small rectangle shapes in red and grey. Lined in cream and dark red. Very cool! This amazing, vintage, short kimono purple with a floral pattern. Traditional kimono styling with rectangular split sleeves and an open front. Lining also beautiful! The short ones also look really cool with jeans so good for post isolation too!

Finally, lets think about more formal occasions, it might be nice make an occasion, maybe mark a birthday or just to regularly think about dressing for dinner! In this event we can help with a range of cocktail dresses, suits or maybe just a groovy shirt.
A wowser of a zoot suit from the 1980’s with a wool check, long jacket– Kid Creole style! Made in England with ‘Stark Realism’ label.
Or this Vintage Floral DRESS by Kitty Copeland. A fantastic square neck, 3/4 length sleeve, dress. Wrapped waistband and pleated skirt. The fabric design is very pretty, a rose print in red and green/brown.
If a suit is a step too far, we also stock a range of amazing, Vintage Inspired shirts by Chenaski and Relco- just the thing for a special evening in!

Whatever you are doing during this surreal episode, a new outfit can lift the spirit- hopefully Repsycho can help! We will continue to supply as stocks and the postage system lasts, stay safe.

For centuries, the dirndl has been the traditional dress for women in the German-speaking region of the Alps, and notably in Bavaria and in Austria it is still considered the regional or national dress. Traditionally, a dirndl comprises a skirt, a bodice (these can be joined) and the dirndl blouse. An apron may be worn over the skirt too - don’t believe the urban myth that says the way you tie your apron ties denotes your availability! Over the centuries, the dirndl has won many fans - each year this style of dress is showcased at the famous Oktoberfest in Munich.

The bodice of the dirndl is usually a front fitted, corset style item. It has ties or buttons to ensure a snug fit and emphasis and enhance the bust and shape. It often has elaborate trim as well as embroidery or ribbon embellishments and pretty buttons too.

The skirt of a dirndl can be either a separate piece or attached to the bodice. They are fairly wide and have plenty of swing and sway. Skirts come in various lengths although mini dirndl skirts are now widely viewed as tacky! They can be plain or highly decorated with ruches and frills or with spectacular prints.

Dirndl tops are cropped under the bust so that the bodice fits snugly around the midriff, however they are also proving to be very popular as a top in their own right- just the thing to show off that 6 pack! Dirndl top designs differ greatly and allow the wearer to display varying degrees of cleavage, shoulder and arm. Sleeves encompass everything from elbow or to full-length for colder weather to light off-the-shoulder styles for warmer weather; Many have ruches and ruffles or sheer lace arms.  Puffed sleeves are popular to emphasise slimness at the waist. Most dirndl blouses are white although black, beige and cream ones are becoming more popular and are often enlivened with braid, buttons and tonal inserts.

A folk costume or tracht, might be a traditional dress, but that does not mean that it cannot be trendy at the same time! Growing interest in traditional clothing since the millennium has led designers to rediscover and reinvent the style. Today the so-called "mini-dirndl" is a best seller. That's probably not surprising though as these shortened folk dresses have had a fair amount of celebrity endorsement- and not just from Julie Andrews!

An acceptable alternative to the dirndl bodice is the traditional blouse. These blouses often incorporate many elements of the dirndl but are lightweight, can be less revealing and are generally easier to wear.

Dirndl dresses have bodices which are designed under the assumption that you’ll be wearing a specially cropped top. These tops are very popular and come in numerous styles and designs, suitable for different occasions and times of the year.

Whether you are going to an Oktoberfest celebration or simply following fashion, a dirndl is a brilliant choice but it can be an expensive one too. Before you invest in a reproduction high street must have or a cheap fancy dress option browse vintage – you won’t be disappointed! At www.repsycho.co.uk we stock (as available) original, quality dirndl items at reasonable prices so you can look authentic, individual and amazing!

Both men and women wear kimono, men’s tend to have subdued colours and geometric patterns while women’s favour the floral. Many kimonos are made of silk and silk blends, as they are handmade they don’t usually have labels to confirm the fabric type but silk is usually quite rough to the touch.

Michiyuki is a style of Japanese jacket/coat, with its signature square neckline and snap or button closures, is worn over the kimono for warmth and protection. Most michiyuki have a “secret pocket” beneath the front panel, accessible by the right hand. Though there are versions for men, most michiyuki are made for women. There is no standard length, and some can be as long as the kimono beneath it, which is more common for the style of michiyuki that is designed as rainwear.

Recently it has become very fashionable to wear kimono style jackets, they are widely manufactured and sold on the High Street but did you know it is really alternative to wear a real Japanese kimono? Why should you settle for a copy when authentic kimono are beautiful and handmade by experts too!

Kimono has come to denote a long, T shaped robe with collars and long, wide sleeves. They are wrapped around the body and secured with a belt/sash or obi. Traditional kimonos are handmade with fantastic attention to detail, tiny stitches and fabulous styling.

A yukata is a casual summer kimono usually made of cotton or synthetic fabric, and unlined. It is very lightweight, cool, and comfortable compared to a traditional kimono. You can wear it to a casual party, events in the spring and the summer or indoor events in all seasons. They can also be your lounge wear.

A haori is a kimono shaped jacket. Originally worn by men only; women were allowed to wear them after the Meiji era and women's ones became popular in the Taisho era (1912-1926). The haori does not close but is worn open or kept closed by a string that connects the lapels. Haori are versatile garments, as they translate well into western-world outfits too, looking good when worn either dressed up for the evening or dressed down with jeans.

The 21st century has witnessed something of a kimono renaissance. Elegant kimono in beautiful modern fabrics can be seen increasingly on the streets of Japan, while second-hand kimono’ are becoming popular too, often re-styled or combined with other items of dress. The resurgence of interest in kimono is particularly apparent in the summer, when department stores are full of yukata (summer kimono), which are much simpler to wear than formal garments. After the Second World War kimono were often viewed as a product of Japan's feudal past or a symbol of women's oppression, but today they are just another choice in the wardrobe.

At Repsycho we have been selling authentic Japanese kimono for several years; people buy them to wear as jackets, dresses and as dressing gowns and lounging wear too, they are especially popular during the festival season. These are genuine handmade Japanese items which often still have tacking stitches in the clothing denoting that they have not been worn. Our kimono come in various colours and styles, gorgeous designs and often have beautiful linings too! Genuine Japanese Kimono can be hugely expensive, we offer the opportunity to own one at a snip!