As Yorkshire-based retro-glamour label The House of Foxy opens in Harrogate, Stephanie Smith talks to founder Clare Quartermaine about why vintage matters.
In a lightning-speed world of uncertainty and chaos, the land of vintage and nostalgia offers for many fashion lovers a haven and an escape, a place where they can feel calmed and inspired by the style of bygone days.
“The historian Kate Williams has been talking about the rise of nostalgia, because technology is so fast, the demands of modern life are so fast, that people are looking back to a simpler way of life again,” says Clare Quartermaine, founder of Elland-based vintage-inspired fashion label the House of Foxy.
“We’re bombarded with information all the time. There are fluctuations as to which era is most in vogue, but there is a plethora of subject matter, with mini trends within the vintage trend, and it all coexists within fashion.”
Despite the gloominess surrounding Brexit, people are continuing to find optimism within the vintage scene and retro style – and that has been very good for business.
“Yes, we have ups and downs like everybody else, and yes, there is a contingent of people who still just want cheap and cheerful fashion, but I think people are getting tired of that,” says Clare.
“I think they want something more long-lasting, that makes them feel wonderful, that fits properly, and that they can hang on to and is timeless. And that’s the difference with vintage style. It’s not really trend driven and it’s eclectic. And people are becoming more ambitious with the way they mix and match styles, and are more open to wearing things that are a little bit more daring.”
Although the demise of vintage has been predicted for years, it continues to capture the imagination and inspire the way we live and look now. Clare and a posse of House of Foxy customer volunteer models took part in a P&O Ferries vintage themed cruise last month from Hull to Rotterdam. It filled more than 300 cabins and House of Foxy gave catwalk shows during the sailing.
The House of Foxy specialises in new designs that capture the glamour, style, shapes, fit and drape of clothes from the 1920s through to the 1960s, updating cuts to celebrate and enhance the modern female form.
After running her own marketing and design business, Clare, from Huddersfield, started the brand seven years ago by selling established vintage-style brands. In 2012, she launched her own-brand and self-designed 20th Century Foxy collection of clothing, later changed to the House of Foxy. All the design and business operations take place at the head office studio and unit at Elland, with a dedicated factory in Scotland handling manufacturing along with another site in Milton Keynes.
There is a spin-off menswear collection with its own website, www.20thcenturychap.co.uk, featuring dapper waistcoats, Oxford bags, Thirties braced trousers and shirts with spear collars.
There is also a plus-size So Foxy range and a diffusion range called Pretty Retro, which has a cheaper price point, with clothes made in Poland, after Clare decided to tackle the overseas copiers head on by making her own cheaper translations.
Clare’s husband, Jonathan, is in charge of operations, and they live in Huddersfield, with their three children, Erin, 12, 10-year-old Freya and Aidan, eight (Aidan enjoys the vintage menswear).
The brand has continued to expand with new 1920s styles and many more retailers across the world stocking its products, including two flagship stockists, one in Copenhagen and one in Ghent in Belgium,
On April 9, House of Foxy will open a department at Space in Harrogate, showcasing about 25 per cent of its stock including swing pants and chic separates. Look out for the special launch event on April 8. Pretty Retro is already stocked in nearby Elegant Era in Harrogate and Apple Tree Vintage in Castleford.
Clare says: “We don’t work like other fashion houses because we don’t really have trends, but there are some trends, for example, sarong-style dresses are back massively and the full petticoated styles are not really in vogue at the moment.”
A small prom and evening wear range is coming soon, made by seamstresses experienced in making bridal gowns, and the House of Foxy will also be taking part in the Festival of Vintage at York Racecourse on April 22-23, with fashion shows including menswear.
Catch them there and at Space in Harrogate.
All designs available on www.thehouseoffoxy.com. The House of Foxy is on TheHouseofFoxy.com, the vintage-inspired menswear is www.20thcenturychap.com and Pretty Retro is on www.prettyretro.co.uk. For times and details about York’s Festival of Vintage, go to www.festivalofvintage.co.uk