Emily Hughes, brand and event manager for Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair, talks to JLife’s Evangeline Spachis about the rise of vintage fashion and her own style.
Founded by Judy Berger in 2005, Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair has been held at Leeds Corn Exchange every year since its formation and it is set to return to the city on 9th April. The team also hold Vintage Kilo Sales and freshers’ week events at the University of Leeds. This year also marks the first time Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair’s sister event, The Vintage Furniture Flea, will visit Leeds in May.
How did Judy’s Vintage Fair begin?
Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair started 11 years ago in East London. The idea behind the brand arose when Judy was working in London and was fed up with the outrageous price of vintage. Her first fair in Leeds was packed with traders offering vintage at discounted prices, it just kept growing from there and now we are in over 30 cities around the UK.
Our founder, Judy Berger, was born and bred in Leeds so our Leeds event is our hometown fair. The team all live and work in Leeds too.
You have hosted fairs at Leeds Corn Exchange for over 10 years now. What keeps the company coming back to the historic venue?
The Corn Exchange is one of Leeds’ most striking buildings. It is such a gorgeous and nostalgic backdrop for our events so it’s a no-brainer really.
Where do you source you what you sell?
We are the event facilitators, so we liaise with small businesses, sellers and pop-up shops. We don’t actually source stock ourselves, but we do buy plenty of it!
Can you tell us when you first became interested in vintage fashion and textiles?
Personally I became interested in vintage when I was studying at university. It was an affordable way to look a bit different and it just spiralled from there. My wardrobe is now 90% vintage— a perk of the job is getting first dibs on what we sell.
Do you ever look at trends on the catwalk and automatically know where the inspiration has come from?
Sometimes. Over recent years we’ve seen strong influences from the 1960s and 70s on the high street and in designer’s collections— particularly last summer when the 70s took over the high street. Most high street fashion is a rehashed past trend, so it is interesting to see them crop up again. We always like buying the real deal though; it’s normally better quality, far more unique and cheaper.
Do you see a difference in shopping habits or fashion trends, city to city? How’s Leeds for example?
Each city is totally different! We find that Leeds has a very diverse mixture of customers, ranging from students to older vintage lovers. There aren’t many vintage shops left in town so we always do really well at our event at the Corn Exchange. Customers get to see products from over 35 traders in one place so it’s like a vintage mecca!
What is your own personal style?
I take my inspiration from the mid-late 1950s and early 60s mostly. There are lots of dresses with lovely prints and strong colours. I also have an ever-increasing collection of vintage spectacles!
What is your favourite era for fashion and interior design?
I’m all about the mid-century era for interiors. This is typically categorised as the 1950s to 70s. I just love the teak, atomic shapes, Formica and bold but slick designs. My home is packed with mid-century bits and bobs. Obviously this also complements my love for the 50s and 60s fashion.
Do you have any favourite pieces of clothing or furniture?
I have a gorgeous mid-century chair that I picked up in a junk shop down the road. I found some lovely 1950s fabric and recovered the seats myself and I adore it! Clothing-wise, I’ve got so many beautiful dresses, so I’m totally spoilt for choice. My current favourite is a gorgeous rayon dress from the 40s.
What makes a great vintage piece?
It’s all about the mixture of careful design and colour when it comes to fashion. I’m a sucker for a good neckline, a good print or a really flattering structure.
Why is vintage less likely to be throwaway?
Typically it’s much better quality than items you’d find on the high street now. Items were also looked after better as people couldn’t afford the ‘throwaway fashion’ we have today. I think it’s brilliant that vintage is so popular; it means these beautiful items can be reused and loved again.