Amelia’s Magazine | Vintage at Goodwood: Festival Preview

Bobbin Bicycles wall
Natasha-Thompson-Bobbins-Bicycles-Girl-Cape-Illustration
Bobbin Bicycles by Natasha Thompson.

I first heard of Bobbin Bicycles just over three years ago, shop when as a nascent bespoke bike company they contacted me to suggest featuring some of their imported upright Dutch bicycles in my Amelia’s Magazine fashion spreads. This was a canny move from husband and wife team Tom Morris and Sian Emmison because I am a big fan of cycling and we shot Bobbin Bicycles several times for the final print issues of the magazine.

Bobbin Bicycles tom and sian
Tom and Sian in Bobbin Bicycles. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

Today Bobbin Bicycles has grown into a well known business that employs six people and is set to open a bespoke and vintage bike repair workshop. They’re launching their own brand of upright Bobbin Bicycles in Australia, visit this to be followed shortly thereafter in the USA and are set to produce their own brand of Bobbin Bicycles branded panniers and capes. They’ve quickly become the go to people for the kind of upright bicycle that is increasingly favoured by townie types looking for sturdiness and style, buy information pills and indeed they’re so busy that Sian barely has time to say hello as she poses for a photo before returning to the phones in her subterranean office below their lovely shop in St John Street, Islington in North London. Instead I catch up with the lovely Tom in the basement of their bulging store to find out a little bit more about Bobbin Bicycles.

Alexis-West-Bobbin-Bicycles-tom morris
Tom Morris by Alexis West.

The love affair with bikes (and with each other) began long ago in Amsterdam.
Both Tom and Sian were fine artists living abroad who fell in love with riding Dutch bikes. It was about a whole lifestyle that was old fashioned, elegant, relaxed and most of all sociable, for in Amsterdam it is not uncommon to ride in groups and chit chat along the way. They were commissioned to film a bike race for the Dutch Arts Council, and the rest, as they like to say, is history.

Fast forward to 2001. London. The daily grind.
On their return home to the big smoke Tom found work in advertising, and Sian worked for cult furniture company SGP, which is based on Curtain Road. But they dreamed of something more… and so in-between freelance work they started to import bikes from Holland. At first this meant touring around Holland in a van to pick up bikes which they shipped back to the UK to sell from a storage unit. Within weeks they had moved onto Eyre Street Hill in Farringdon, where they shared a space with watchmakers and jewellers.

Bobbin Bicycles bells

Their glamourous “atelier showroom” was a bit like Turkish gambling den.
No one else had thought to specialise in Dutch bikes and soon their appointment only showroom was so popular they were selling ten bikes a day. Being well schooled in the ways of branding they targeted their customers with great care: Tom draped a curtain over the grottier bits of the workshop and played nice music. Customers got the “wow” factor when coming in off the street and soon the national newspapers started to call when they wanted a story about upright bikes.

Pashley began to stalk them.
Bobbin Bicycles had moved to Arlington Way by the time that Pashley paid them a secret visit. Thinking that not everyone wants a Dutch bike Tom had already approached the well known British brand, but he was unaware of the mutual interest. Pashleys are smaller in size and offer more gears, plus they offer the added bonus of all British manufacture UK. Fast forward to 2010: Bobbin Bicycles now operates from a lovely little shop in Angel and is one of over 100 UK stockists of Pashleys, but who else can boast their very own exclusive colour range? At Bobbin Bicycles you can now pick up the Pashley Provence in a special mint or mustard colourway.

Bobbin Bicycles

Upright bikes have become a lot more fashionable of late.
As more cyclists take to the roads many are choosing to ride sit-up-and-beg bikes of the type that Bobbin Bicycles sell, and lots more bike manufacturers are “having a pop” at simple upright bikes. Downstairs Tom shows me some new Globe bikes made by the huge company Specialised. People are now making appointments to visit Bobbin Bicycles from as far away as LA and Russia. *NB: I do not condone travelling across the world to purchase a bike. But definitely buy a bike. Everyone should have one.

Bobbin Bicycles baskets
Piles of baskets in the basement of the shop.

Steel or aluminium? Why, what’s the difference?
Pashleys are made with a beautiful thin lugged steel frame, but most modern bikes are made from lightweight aluminium that makes for a more juddery ride, though they are definitely not as heavy when lifting up steps. Bobbin Bicycles can cater to all your upright wishes and stock a huge range of brands including the wonderfully named Swedish Skeppshult.

London has way more cycling tribes than other cities.
In other cities the cyclists tend to look quite homogeneous, but here in London we have many different identifiable types. Tom was amongst the first to label the big three cycling tribes for an article in the Independent. The Traditional, Fold-up and Fixie tribes can now be broken into multiple subsets and mash ups, including the Fixed Tweed tribe.

Tweed Run by Emma Raby
Tweed Run by Emma Raby.

Bobbin Bicycles ran a tea stop for this year’s Tweed Run.
The Tweed Run is perfectly Bobbin: an annual celebration of all things upright and traditional about cycling. This year they presented a prize for the best decorated bike to a lady from Holland, who arrived with an old 70s shopper decorated with a multicoloured knitted saddle cover and matching dress guards on the back wheels.

Tweed run by Maria del carmensmith
The winning bike by Maria del Carmen Smith.

Boris bikes. Good news for Bobbin Bicycles.
Tom loves the idea of cycling into town on Boris bike and then getting a cab back. Or simply having the option to avoid the horrors of the night bus. Even though the amount of money spent on cycling in the UK is a fraction of what is spent in countries such as Denmark, Holland and Germany the new London bike scheme will undoubtedly encourage more people to cycle. Here’s how it goes: people will try them out instead of investing in a cheap bike from Halfords. Once they get into the idea of cycling they will realise how heavy and unwieldy the Boris bikes are and will decide to graduate onto something nicer. Hopefully a Bobbin Bicycle, for instance.

boris bike by vicky yates
Boris Bike by Vicky Yates.

Collaborations are good fun.
In the cabinet behind me are wonderful bowler and deerstalker hats designed to fit over helmets. They were made by the historically influenced milliner Eloise Moody, who has also created a sexy reflective nurses cape. Bobbin Bicycles will launch their own range of panniers and capes for spring 2011, and the shop stocks lots of small boutique brands you would not find elsewhere. They’ve provided bikes for a Mark Ronson video and the newspapers always come knocking when they want to borrow a pretty upright.

Abi Daker - Eloise Moody - bikes
Eloise Moody by Abigail Daker.

They are moving back to Arlington Way.
Well, in a manner of speaking. The shop in Angel is bursting at the seams and they’ve decided to open a new workshop on Arlington Way in October, just three doors down from their previous location. Dedicated Bobbin mechanics will specialise in the servicing of vintage bikes and hard to get components such as hub gears. But all cyclists will be welcome.

Bobbin Bicycles jewellery
Bobbin Bicycles jewellery.

Vintage Goodwood here we come.
Bobbin Bicycles have provided Vintage at Goodwood with a fleet of promotional bikes so that they can flyer all over town. They have a pitch at the festival alongside the Old Bicycle Company from Essex – which specialises in Penny Farthings. Sadly, here we don’t come. Amelia’s Magazine has not been made welcome at Vintage at Goodwood.

The independent bike shops all get along.
And why not? They all specialise in their own thing, and quite often a boyfriend and girlfriend will come into Bobbin Bicycles with different ideas of what they want to ride. The girl wants an upright, the boy wants a fix. So they send him down the road to Condor Cycles or up the road to Mosquito. Yes, 80% of their customers are female, possibly down to the attitude and service of Bobbin staff, which is deliberately very accessible and non technology based.

Winter Cycling by Joana Faria
Winter Cycling by Joana Faria.

Top tips for autumn and winter cycling.
Many people are merely fair weather cyclists (not me!) but cycling through the British winter will keep you warm. You’ll arrive at work with a good feeling inside, blood pumping, ready to get down to business: you don’t get that sitting on an overheated bus. But make sure you have decent lights because they’ll make you feel really smug when it gets dark early. Get a good cape to whack over the top of your clothes if it’s raining. Waterproof trousers are not a good look but leather jackets are. They keep the wind out and they look good too. Stay on your bikes! Honestly, it’s by the far the best way to travel at all times of the year. And I speak from experience.

You can visit the friendly staff at Bobbin Bicycles at 397 St John Street, London, EC1V 4LD or you can drool over their website here. And do say hello at Vintage at Goodwood.

Bobbin Bicycles SHOP

Natasha-Thompson-Bobbins-Bicycles-Girl-Cape-Illustration
Bobbin Bicycles by Natasha Thompson.

I first heard of Bobbin Bicycles just over three years ago, no rx when as a nascent bespoke bike company they contacted me to suggest featuring some of their imported upright Dutch bicycles in my Amelia’s Magazine fashion spreads. This was a canny move from husband and wife team Tom Morris and Sian Emmison because I am a big fan of cycling and we shot Bobbin Bicycles several times for the final print issues of the magazine.

Bobbin Bicycles tom and sian
Tom and Sian in Bobbin Bicycles. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

Today Bobbin Bicycles has grown into a well known business that employs six people and is set to open a bespoke and vintage bike repair workshop. They’re launching their own brand of upright Bobbin Bicycles in Australia, page to be followed shortly thereafter in the USA and are set to produce their own brand of Bobbin Bicycles branded panniers and capes. They’ve quickly become the go to people for the kind of upright bicycle that is increasingly favoured by townie types looking for sturdiness and style, dosage and indeed they’re so busy that Sian barely has time to say hello as she poses for a photo before returning to the phones in her subterranean office below their lovely shop in St John Street, Islington in North London. Instead I catch up with the lovely Tom in the basement of their bulging store to find out a little bit more about Bobbin Bicycles.

Alexis-West-Bobbin-Bicycles-tom morris
Tom Morris by Alexis West.

The love affair with bikes (and with each other) began long ago in Amsterdam.
Both Tom and Sian were fine artists living abroad who fell in love with riding Dutch bikes. It was about a whole lifestyle that was old fashioned, elegant, relaxed and most of all sociable, for in Amsterdam it is not uncommon to ride in groups and chit chat along the way. They were commissioned to film a bike race for the Dutch Arts Council, and the rest, as they like to say, is history.

Fast forward to 2001. London. The daily grind.
On their return home to the big smoke Tom found work in advertising, and Sian worked for cult furniture company SGP, which is based on Curtain Road. But they dreamed of something more… and so in-between freelance work they started to import bikes from Holland. At first this meant touring around Holland in a van to pick up bikes which they shipped back to the UK to sell from a storage unit. Within weeks they had moved onto Eyre Street Hill in Farringdon, where they shared a space with watchmakers and jewellers.

Bobbin Bicycles bells

Their glamourous “atelier showroom” was a bit like Turkish gambling den.
No one else had thought to specialise in Dutch bikes and soon their appointment only showroom was so popular they were selling ten bikes a day. Being well schooled in the ways of branding they targeted their customers with great care: Tom draped a curtain over the grottier bits of the workshop and played nice music. Customers got the “wow” factor when coming in off the street and soon the national newspapers started to call when they wanted a story about upright bikes.

Pashley began to stalk them.
Bobbin Bicycles had moved to Arlington Way by the time that Pashley paid them a secret visit. Thinking that not everyone wants a Dutch bike Tom had already approached the well known British brand, but he was unaware of the mutual interest. Pashleys are smaller in size and offer more gears, plus they offer the added bonus of all British manufacture UK. Fast forward to 2010: Bobbin Bicycles now operates from a lovely little shop in Angel and is one of over 100 UK stockists of Pashleys, but who else can boast their very own exclusive colour range? At Bobbin Bicycles you can now pick up the Pashley Provence in a special mint or mustard colourway.

Bobbin Bicycles

Upright bikes have become a lot more fashionable of late.
As more cyclists take to the roads many are choosing to ride sit-up-and-beg bikes of the type that Bobbin Bicycles sell, and lots more bike manufacturers are “having a pop” at simple upright bikes. Downstairs Tom shows me some new Globe bikes made by the huge company Specialised. People are now making appointments to visit Bobbin Bicycles from as far away as LA and Russia. *NB: I do not condone travelling across the world to purchase a bike. But definitely buy a bike. Everyone should have one.

Bobbin Bicycles baskets
Piles of baskets in the basement of the shop.

Steel or aluminium? Why, what’s the difference?
Pashleys are made with a beautiful thin lugged steel frame, but most modern bikes are made from lightweight aluminium that makes for a more juddery ride, though they are definitely not as heavy when lifting up steps. Bobbin Bicycles can cater to all your upright wishes and stock a huge range of brands including the wonderfully named Swedish Skeppshult.

London has way more cycling tribes than other cities.
In other cities the cyclists tend to look quite homogeneous, but here in London we have many different identifiable types. Tom was amongst the first to label the big three cycling tribes for an article in the Independent. The Traditional, Fold-up and Fixie tribes can now be broken into multiple subsets and mash ups, including the Fixed Tweed tribe.

Tweed Run by Emma Raby
Tweed Run by Emma Raby.

Bobbin Bicycles ran a tea stop for this year’s Tweed Run.
The Tweed Run is perfectly Bobbin: an annual celebration of all things upright and traditional about cycling. This year they presented a prize for the best decorated bike to a lady from Holland, who arrived with an old 70s shopper decorated with a multicoloured knitted saddle cover and matching dress guards on the back wheels.

Tweed run by Maria del carmensmith
The winning bike by Maria del Carmen Smith.

Boris bikes. Good news for Bobbin Bicycles.
Tom loves the idea of cycling into town on Boris bike and then getting a cab back. Or simply having the option to avoid the horrors of the night bus. Even though the amount of money spent on cycling in the UK is a fraction of what is spent in countries such as Denmark, Holland and Germany the new London bike scheme will undoubtedly encourage more people to cycle. Here’s how it goes: people will try them out instead of investing in a cheap bike from Halfords. Once they get into the idea of cycling they will realise how heavy and unwieldy the Boris bikes are and will decide to graduate onto something nicer. Hopefully a Bobbin Bicycle, for instance.

boris bike by vicky yates
Boris Bike by Vicky Yates.

Collaborations are good fun.
In the cabinet behind me are wonderful bowler and deerstalker hats designed to fit over helmets. They were made by the historically influenced milliner Eloise Moody, who has also created a sexy reflective nurses cape. Bobbin Bicycles will launch their own range of panniers and capes for spring 2011, and the shop stocks lots of small boutique brands you would not find elsewhere. They’ve provided bikes for a Mark Ronson video and the newspapers always come knocking when they want to borrow a pretty upright.

Abi Daker - Eloise Moody - bikes
Eloise Moody by Abigail Daker.

They are moving back to Arlington Way.
Well, in a manner of speaking. The shop in Angel is bursting at the seams and they’ve decided to open a new workshop on Arlington Way in October, just three doors down from their previous location. Dedicated Bobbin mechanics will specialise in the servicing of vintage bikes and hard to get components such as hub gears. But all cyclists will be welcome.

Bobbin Bicycles jewellery
Bobbin Bicycles jewellery.

Vintage Goodwood here we come.
Bobbin Bicycles have provided Vintage at Goodwood with a fleet of promotional bikes so that they can flyer all over town. They have a pitch at the festival alongside the Old Bicycle Company from Essex – which specialises in Penny Farthings. Sadly, here we don’t come. Amelia’s Magazine has not been made welcome at Vintage at Goodwood.

Bobbin Bicycles wall

The independent bike shops all get along.
And why not? They all specialise in their own thing, and quite often a boyfriend and girlfriend will come into Bobbin Bicycles with different ideas of what they want to ride. The girl wants an upright, the boy wants a fix. So they send him down the road to Condor Cycles or up the road to Mosquito. Yes, 80% of their customers are female, possibly down to the attitude and service of Bobbin staff, which is deliberately very accessible and non technology based.

Winter Cycling by Joana Faria
Winter Cycling by Joana Faria.

Top tips for autumn and winter cycling.
Many people are merely fair weather cyclists (not me!) but cycling through the British winter will keep you warm. You’ll arrive at work with a good feeling inside, blood pumping, ready to get down to business: you don’t get that sitting on an overheated bus. But make sure you have decent lights because they’ll make you feel really smug when it gets dark early. Get a good cape to whack over the top of your clothes if it’s raining. Waterproof trousers are not a good look but leather jackets are. They keep the wind out and they look good too. Stay on your bikes! Honestly, it’s by the far the best way to travel at all times of the year. And I speak from experience.

You can visit the friendly staff at Bobbin Bicycles at 397 St John Street, London, EC1V 4LD or you can drool over their website here. And do say hello at Vintage at Goodwood.

Bobbin Bicycles SHOP

Natasha-Thompson-Vintage-Goodwood-Illustration
Vintage at Goodwood by Natasha Thompson.

I must admit, approved I’ve had my reservations from the start. Right from the moment when they wheeled out that universally irritating celebrity known as Lily Allen. Young, for sale rich, famous and by all accounts a pain in the butt. Best known amongst the vintage community for out-bidding everyone else on all the best clothes at auction. Admittedly the closest I have ever got to Lily Allen was when she nonchalantly flicked cigarette ash on me as I passed her huge chauffeur driven four wheel drive on my bike one day last summer. But I think this tells me enough.

Vintage at Goodwood is a new festival. A new festival afloat in the sea of other festivals now populating British weekends throughout the summer months. Not a weekend goes by without at least two or three wonderful festivals that I know about to chose from, and many others that I don’t. Trying to find a niche market that hasn’t already spent as much as they can afford on summer festival frivolities is surely not an easy thing to do. Not surprisingly Vintage at Goodwood hasn’t sold out in it’s first year.

lilyallen-vintage dress(by cat sims)
Lily Allen in a vintage dress by Cat Sims.

So, they’ve done a notably huge amount of advertising – plastering everything from Bobbin Bicycles to bus billboards with the distinctive Vintage at Goodwood posters, which proclaim a festival that places as much emphasis on art, fashion, film and design as it does on music. All well and good, it’s a trend pioneered by the likes of Latitude and Secret Garden Party, but I’ve yet to fathom exactly how the mix works this time round. The only emphasis I can see has been on ‘curating’ a very large shopping area: even John Lewis gets a presence on their old-fashioned High Street.

Vintage at Goodwood poster
A Vintage at Goodwood poster near Brick Lane.

And who, exactly, is the “glamping” crowd they want to attract? “Vintage” as a lifestyle choice is something wholeheartedly embraced by people on a budget who like to champion an individualistic, upcycling, DIY aesthetic. Many of my readers for instance. Why, I’ve been wearing Chazza clothes since I could walk into a shop. Beyond Retro is my local store. Okay, since from about 1999 I’ve mainly favoured clothes from the 1980s over anything earlier, but today even this most silly of decades gets the Vintage treatment at Vintage at Goodwood.

But the Goodwood Estate also hosts Goodwood Revival – a glamourous motoring and aviation event aimed at people with a little bit more money than your average Vintage Enthusiast of the kind I speak of. It’s been written about in posh supermarket Waitrose’s own magazine, and fawned over by the right wing press. “They are used to catering to Goodwood Revival, who are basically mostly very wealthy, vintage car/plane owners… and where people ONLY seem to care how much money/how many stately homes you have.” This is clearly a festival with pretensions to be more than the mere stamping ground of a bunch of fashionable east end types. And yet many of these very people are the ones making the festival happen. Thrifty vintage enthusiasts fill the vintage shopping area with their stalls. They’re volunteering their time to be stewards of boudoirs. Vintage bloggers have written glowing posts about how much they look forward to the festival, thereby ensuring there is huge amounts of hype online to compliment the more traditional advertising. But are these very same people being looked after by the corporate wheels of Goodwood, Freud Comm and co?

JuneChanpoomidle-VintageGoodwood
Illustration by June Chanpoomidle.

At Amelia’s Magazine we’ve always tried to support as many small festivals as possible, especially the new ones, the ones focused on green issues and the ones that will appeal to our readership. You’d think, given this quote in the Telegraph (soz) today, that I would be the ideal kind of press to invite along to Vintage at Goodwood. “Vintage fashion is a win-win. It’s about upcycling, recycling, thriftiness and great design. I felt this was the right time to celebrate it and show people how good vintage links music, fashion and film.” Does this sound anything like the kind of stuff we promote on this blog, day in day out? Only this week we’ve published interviews with Think, Act, Vote and Bobbin Bicycles, both of whom have a presence at Vintage at Goodwood that gets a mention in our blogs.

Unhappy at the way that the press team for Vintage at Goodwood dismissed me without so much as a by your leave, and uneasy about the complaints I noted on the Vintage at Goodwood Facebook site regarding a lack of transparency over ticket pricing a few weeks ago, I decided to dig around for a bit more information. Someone, somewhere clearly has money. Freud Comm are the huge corporate PR agency responsible for the massive amounts of press you see. They also look after Nike, Asda, KFC, Sky, the Olympics and drinks giant Diageo, who has close ties to the festival. Cheap they cannot be to hire.

I am small fry to Freud, as are all those other eager bloggers. Freud doesn’t even have a twitter feed. Or a blog. They are beyond such things. But they also don’t understand the power of such things. Or maybe they would not be so dismissive of those with such close ties to the market they are trying to reach.

Glamping By Jessica Sharville 2
Glamping by Jessica Sharville.

As soon as I started to ask around I discovered a lot of unhappiness… and I was only scratching the surface. Bloggers that have gushed about Vintage at Goodwood for months had applied for press passes only to be turned down this, the week before – forced to purchase their own tickets to experience the festival they so much wanted to write about. Even seasoned journalists writing for big websites have been turned down. Now I’m no marketing genius, but it seems to me that if you have a new festival, and you haven’t sold out, it makes no sense at all to turn down any enthusiastic journos. After all, it costs the organisers nothing to let people in for free, and our eagerness should be appreciated because it doesn’t come without costs to us when we don’t have huge expense accounts to fall back on (travel and food soon mount up). Presuming that Vintage at Goodwood would like to continue next year, surely it’s a wise idea to maximise your chances of positive press from day one? For this very reason I will always send a press copy of Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration to any blogger that asks, no matter how well read their website is, or not. I appreciate that you want to spend time writing about my project. (ask away)

But there’s more…. getting Vintage at Goodwood off the ground has not been without its casualties along the way. And here you’ll have to bear with me if I adopt an air of secrecy – many of these people are still going to Vintage at Goodwood anyway – but tell me this, does this sound like a happy bunny? “It is a real shame as I have not met one person who is genuinely excited to go. Most are curious about how bad it will be and want to see it fail due to the poor behaviour from the organisers.”

Vintage illustration by Nathalie Laurence
Vintage illustration by Nathalie Laurence.

As Vintage at Goodwood have decided to focus on the shopping aspect of the event the costs of stalls have spiralled, well out of the reach of many young Vintage Stockists. A key curator has dropped out. One Vintage Enthusiast who shall remain nameless told me that “It’s all a big money making sham.” Many things will cost more (on top of the ticket price) during the festival. Another told me “I may as well rent a shop in Brighton for a month for the price they were asking for a pitch the size of a stamp.” I find all of this desperately sad. As a way of life Vintage is not about this. I understand the need for a new festival to break even, but at the expense of all those who help out along the way? It’s just not right.

Another quote: “I have heard nothing but bad things which is so sad as I have high hopes for the event.” I really wish I was able to get along to Vintage at Goodwood to make a judgement on it myself. As a concept it sounds great. Many many good friends will be attending, including Tatty Devine, Supermarket Sarah, Bobbin Bicycles, Think, Act, Vote… the list goes on. I would have loved to have covered the green lectures and meet the people who attend in all their fabulous finery. Vintage as a lifestyle is something I wholeheartedly support. As are festivals. Can you imagine a better bunch to photograph, illustrate and talk about for Amelia’s Magazine?

Wayne in Blue and Ochre by GarethAHopkins
Wayne Hemmingway (he’s behind Vintage at Goodwood) by Gareth Hopkins.

Sadly it is not to be. I can’t afford to pay for a ticket, especially given the time it takes me to write a festival up, which usually approaches a week and bearing in mind that no one pays me to write. It’s also very tiring (as anyone working the festival circuit will tell you), which is why I’ve stayed at home in London for the past few weekends – although I had set aside time to visit Vintage at Goodwood and see if it lived up to the hype. Instead I hope to hear from others who are going, fingers crossed. And do tell me your thoughts too, especially after the event. I hope you have a truly wonderful time if you are going, either as a punter or a contributor. Everyone. But organisers, remember this. Look after your team. They are what will make Vintage at Goodwood what it is, not the rich people glamping it up in luxury teepees and yurts. Don’t forget what Vintage as a lifestyle truly means…

* I did make it to VAG in the end… My review of Vintage at Goodwood is now online and you can read it here.*

Categories ,Bobbin Bicycles, ,cat sims, ,Gareth Hopkins, ,Jessica Sharville, ,John Lewis, ,June Chanpoomidole, ,lily allen, ,Natasha Thompson, ,Nathalie Laurence, ,recycling, ,Supermarket Sarah, ,Tatty Devine, ,Think Act Vote, ,Upcycling, ,Vintage at Goodwood

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Amelia’s Magazine | Vintage at Goodwood: Festival Preview

Bobbin Bicycles wall
Natasha-Thompson-Bobbins-Bicycles-Girl-Cape-Illustration
Bobbin Bicycles by Natasha Thompson.

I first heard of Bobbin Bicycles just over three years ago, shop when as a nascent bespoke bike company they contacted me to suggest featuring some of their imported upright Dutch bicycles in my Amelia’s Magazine fashion spreads. This was a canny move from husband and wife team Tom Morris and Sian Emmison because I am a big fan of cycling and we shot Bobbin Bicycles several times for the final print issues of the magazine.

Bobbin Bicycles tom and sian
Tom and Sian in Bobbin Bicycles. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

Today Bobbin Bicycles has grown into a well known business that employs six people and is set to open a bespoke and vintage bike repair workshop. They’re launching their own brand of upright Bobbin Bicycles in Australia, visit this to be followed shortly thereafter in the USA and are set to produce their own brand of Bobbin Bicycles branded panniers and capes. They’ve quickly become the go to people for the kind of upright bicycle that is increasingly favoured by townie types looking for sturdiness and style, buy information pills and indeed they’re so busy that Sian barely has time to say hello as she poses for a photo before returning to the phones in her subterranean office below their lovely shop in St John Street, Islington in North London. Instead I catch up with the lovely Tom in the basement of their bulging store to find out a little bit more about Bobbin Bicycles.

Alexis-West-Bobbin-Bicycles-tom morris
Tom Morris by Alexis West.

The love affair with bikes (and with each other) began long ago in Amsterdam.
Both Tom and Sian were fine artists living abroad who fell in love with riding Dutch bikes. It was about a whole lifestyle that was old fashioned, elegant, relaxed and most of all sociable, for in Amsterdam it is not uncommon to ride in groups and chit chat along the way. They were commissioned to film a bike race for the Dutch Arts Council, and the rest, as they like to say, is history.

Fast forward to 2001. London. The daily grind.
On their return home to the big smoke Tom found work in advertising, and Sian worked for cult furniture company SGP, which is based on Curtain Road. But they dreamed of something more… and so in-between freelance work they started to import bikes from Holland. At first this meant touring around Holland in a van to pick up bikes which they shipped back to the UK to sell from a storage unit. Within weeks they had moved onto Eyre Street Hill in Farringdon, where they shared a space with watchmakers and jewellers.

Bobbin Bicycles bells

Their glamourous “atelier showroom” was a bit like Turkish gambling den.
No one else had thought to specialise in Dutch bikes and soon their appointment only showroom was so popular they were selling ten bikes a day. Being well schooled in the ways of branding they targeted their customers with great care: Tom draped a curtain over the grottier bits of the workshop and played nice music. Customers got the “wow” factor when coming in off the street and soon the national newspapers started to call when they wanted a story about upright bikes.

Pashley began to stalk them.
Bobbin Bicycles had moved to Arlington Way by the time that Pashley paid them a secret visit. Thinking that not everyone wants a Dutch bike Tom had already approached the well known British brand, but he was unaware of the mutual interest. Pashleys are smaller in size and offer more gears, plus they offer the added bonus of all British manufacture UK. Fast forward to 2010: Bobbin Bicycles now operates from a lovely little shop in Angel and is one of over 100 UK stockists of Pashleys, but who else can boast their very own exclusive colour range? At Bobbin Bicycles you can now pick up the Pashley Provence in a special mint or mustard colourway.

Bobbin Bicycles

Upright bikes have become a lot more fashionable of late.
As more cyclists take to the roads many are choosing to ride sit-up-and-beg bikes of the type that Bobbin Bicycles sell, and lots more bike manufacturers are “having a pop” at simple upright bikes. Downstairs Tom shows me some new Globe bikes made by the huge company Specialised. People are now making appointments to visit Bobbin Bicycles from as far away as LA and Russia. *NB: I do not condone travelling across the world to purchase a bike. But definitely buy a bike. Everyone should have one.

Bobbin Bicycles baskets
Piles of baskets in the basement of the shop.

Steel or aluminium? Why, what’s the difference?
Pashleys are made with a beautiful thin lugged steel frame, but most modern bikes are made from lightweight aluminium that makes for a more juddery ride, though they are definitely not as heavy when lifting up steps. Bobbin Bicycles can cater to all your upright wishes and stock a huge range of brands including the wonderfully named Swedish Skeppshult.

London has way more cycling tribes than other cities.
In other cities the cyclists tend to look quite homogeneous, but here in London we have many different identifiable types. Tom was amongst the first to label the big three cycling tribes for an article in the Independent. The Traditional, Fold-up and Fixie tribes can now be broken into multiple subsets and mash ups, including the Fixed Tweed tribe.

Tweed Run by Emma Raby
Tweed Run by Emma Raby.

Bobbin Bicycles ran a tea stop for this year’s Tweed Run.
The Tweed Run is perfectly Bobbin: an annual celebration of all things upright and traditional about cycling. This year they presented a prize for the best decorated bike to a lady from Holland, who arrived with an old 70s shopper decorated with a multicoloured knitted saddle cover and matching dress guards on the back wheels.

Tweed run by Maria del carmensmith
The winning bike by Maria del Carmen Smith.

Boris bikes. Good news for Bobbin Bicycles.
Tom loves the idea of cycling into town on Boris bike and then getting a cab back. Or simply having the option to avoid the horrors of the night bus. Even though the amount of money spent on cycling in the UK is a fraction of what is spent in countries such as Denmark, Holland and Germany the new London bike scheme will undoubtedly encourage more people to cycle. Here’s how it goes: people will try them out instead of investing in a cheap bike from Halfords. Once they get into the idea of cycling they will realise how heavy and unwieldy the Boris bikes are and will decide to graduate onto something nicer. Hopefully a Bobbin Bicycle, for instance.

boris bike by vicky yates
Boris Bike by Vicky Yates.

Collaborations are good fun.
In the cabinet behind me are wonderful bowler and deerstalker hats designed to fit over helmets. They were made by the historically influenced milliner Eloise Moody, who has also created a sexy reflective nurses cape. Bobbin Bicycles will launch their own range of panniers and capes for spring 2011, and the shop stocks lots of small boutique brands you would not find elsewhere. They’ve provided bikes for a Mark Ronson video and the newspapers always come knocking when they want to borrow a pretty upright.

Abi Daker - Eloise Moody - bikes
Eloise Moody by Abigail Daker.

They are moving back to Arlington Way.
Well, in a manner of speaking. The shop in Angel is bursting at the seams and they’ve decided to open a new workshop on Arlington Way in October, just three doors down from their previous location. Dedicated Bobbin mechanics will specialise in the servicing of vintage bikes and hard to get components such as hub gears. But all cyclists will be welcome.

Bobbin Bicycles jewellery
Bobbin Bicycles jewellery.

Vintage Goodwood here we come.
Bobbin Bicycles have provided Vintage at Goodwood with a fleet of promotional bikes so that they can flyer all over town. They have a pitch at the festival alongside the Old Bicycle Company from Essex – which specialises in Penny Farthings. Sadly, here we don’t come. Amelia’s Magazine has not been made welcome at Vintage at Goodwood.

The independent bike shops all get along.
And why not? They all specialise in their own thing, and quite often a boyfriend and girlfriend will come into Bobbin Bicycles with different ideas of what they want to ride. The girl wants an upright, the boy wants a fix. So they send him down the road to Condor Cycles or up the road to Mosquito. Yes, 80% of their customers are female, possibly down to the attitude and service of Bobbin staff, which is deliberately very accessible and non technology based.

Winter Cycling by Joana Faria
Winter Cycling by Joana Faria.

Top tips for autumn and winter cycling.
Many people are merely fair weather cyclists (not me!) but cycling through the British winter will keep you warm. You’ll arrive at work with a good feeling inside, blood pumping, ready to get down to business: you don’t get that sitting on an overheated bus. But make sure you have decent lights because they’ll make you feel really smug when it gets dark early. Get a good cape to whack over the top of your clothes if it’s raining. Waterproof trousers are not a good look but leather jackets are. They keep the wind out and they look good too. Stay on your bikes! Honestly, it’s by the far the best way to travel at all times of the year. And I speak from experience.

You can visit the friendly staff at Bobbin Bicycles at 397 St John Street, London, EC1V 4LD or you can drool over their website here. And do say hello at Vintage at Goodwood.

Bobbin Bicycles SHOP

Natasha-Thompson-Bobbins-Bicycles-Girl-Cape-Illustration
Bobbin Bicycles by Natasha Thompson.

I first heard of Bobbin Bicycles just over three years ago, no rx when as a nascent bespoke bike company they contacted me to suggest featuring some of their imported upright Dutch bicycles in my Amelia’s Magazine fashion spreads. This was a canny move from husband and wife team Tom Morris and Sian Emmison because I am a big fan of cycling and we shot Bobbin Bicycles several times for the final print issues of the magazine.

Bobbin Bicycles tom and sian
Tom and Sian in Bobbin Bicycles. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

Today Bobbin Bicycles has grown into a well known business that employs six people and is set to open a bespoke and vintage bike repair workshop. They’re launching their own brand of upright Bobbin Bicycles in Australia, page to be followed shortly thereafter in the USA and are set to produce their own brand of Bobbin Bicycles branded panniers and capes. They’ve quickly become the go to people for the kind of upright bicycle that is increasingly favoured by townie types looking for sturdiness and style, dosage and indeed they’re so busy that Sian barely has time to say hello as she poses for a photo before returning to the phones in her subterranean office below their lovely shop in St John Street, Islington in North London. Instead I catch up with the lovely Tom in the basement of their bulging store to find out a little bit more about Bobbin Bicycles.

Alexis-West-Bobbin-Bicycles-tom morris
Tom Morris by Alexis West.

The love affair with bikes (and with each other) began long ago in Amsterdam.
Both Tom and Sian were fine artists living abroad who fell in love with riding Dutch bikes. It was about a whole lifestyle that was old fashioned, elegant, relaxed and most of all sociable, for in Amsterdam it is not uncommon to ride in groups and chit chat along the way. They were commissioned to film a bike race for the Dutch Arts Council, and the rest, as they like to say, is history.

Fast forward to 2001. London. The daily grind.
On their return home to the big smoke Tom found work in advertising, and Sian worked for cult furniture company SGP, which is based on Curtain Road. But they dreamed of something more… and so in-between freelance work they started to import bikes from Holland. At first this meant touring around Holland in a van to pick up bikes which they shipped back to the UK to sell from a storage unit. Within weeks they had moved onto Eyre Street Hill in Farringdon, where they shared a space with watchmakers and jewellers.

Bobbin Bicycles bells

Their glamourous “atelier showroom” was a bit like Turkish gambling den.
No one else had thought to specialise in Dutch bikes and soon their appointment only showroom was so popular they were selling ten bikes a day. Being well schooled in the ways of branding they targeted their customers with great care: Tom draped a curtain over the grottier bits of the workshop and played nice music. Customers got the “wow” factor when coming in off the street and soon the national newspapers started to call when they wanted a story about upright bikes.

Pashley began to stalk them.
Bobbin Bicycles had moved to Arlington Way by the time that Pashley paid them a secret visit. Thinking that not everyone wants a Dutch bike Tom had already approached the well known British brand, but he was unaware of the mutual interest. Pashleys are smaller in size and offer more gears, plus they offer the added bonus of all British manufacture UK. Fast forward to 2010: Bobbin Bicycles now operates from a lovely little shop in Angel and is one of over 100 UK stockists of Pashleys, but who else can boast their very own exclusive colour range? At Bobbin Bicycles you can now pick up the Pashley Provence in a special mint or mustard colourway.

Bobbin Bicycles

Upright bikes have become a lot more fashionable of late.
As more cyclists take to the roads many are choosing to ride sit-up-and-beg bikes of the type that Bobbin Bicycles sell, and lots more bike manufacturers are “having a pop” at simple upright bikes. Downstairs Tom shows me some new Globe bikes made by the huge company Specialised. People are now making appointments to visit Bobbin Bicycles from as far away as LA and Russia. *NB: I do not condone travelling across the world to purchase a bike. But definitely buy a bike. Everyone should have one.

Bobbin Bicycles baskets
Piles of baskets in the basement of the shop.

Steel or aluminium? Why, what’s the difference?
Pashleys are made with a beautiful thin lugged steel frame, but most modern bikes are made from lightweight aluminium that makes for a more juddery ride, though they are definitely not as heavy when lifting up steps. Bobbin Bicycles can cater to all your upright wishes and stock a huge range of brands including the wonderfully named Swedish Skeppshult.

London has way more cycling tribes than other cities.
In other cities the cyclists tend to look quite homogeneous, but here in London we have many different identifiable types. Tom was amongst the first to label the big three cycling tribes for an article in the Independent. The Traditional, Fold-up and Fixie tribes can now be broken into multiple subsets and mash ups, including the Fixed Tweed tribe.

Tweed Run by Emma Raby
Tweed Run by Emma Raby.

Bobbin Bicycles ran a tea stop for this year’s Tweed Run.
The Tweed Run is perfectly Bobbin: an annual celebration of all things upright and traditional about cycling. This year they presented a prize for the best decorated bike to a lady from Holland, who arrived with an old 70s shopper decorated with a multicoloured knitted saddle cover and matching dress guards on the back wheels.

Tweed run by Maria del carmensmith
The winning bike by Maria del Carmen Smith.

Boris bikes. Good news for Bobbin Bicycles.
Tom loves the idea of cycling into town on Boris bike and then getting a cab back. Or simply having the option to avoid the horrors of the night bus. Even though the amount of money spent on cycling in the UK is a fraction of what is spent in countries such as Denmark, Holland and Germany the new London bike scheme will undoubtedly encourage more people to cycle. Here’s how it goes: people will try them out instead of investing in a cheap bike from Halfords. Once they get into the idea of cycling they will realise how heavy and unwieldy the Boris bikes are and will decide to graduate onto something nicer. Hopefully a Bobbin Bicycle, for instance.

boris bike by vicky yates
Boris Bike by Vicky Yates.

Collaborations are good fun.
In the cabinet behind me are wonderful bowler and deerstalker hats designed to fit over helmets. They were made by the historically influenced milliner Eloise Moody, who has also created a sexy reflective nurses cape. Bobbin Bicycles will launch their own range of panniers and capes for spring 2011, and the shop stocks lots of small boutique brands you would not find elsewhere. They’ve provided bikes for a Mark Ronson video and the newspapers always come knocking when they want to borrow a pretty upright.

Abi Daker - Eloise Moody - bikes
Eloise Moody by Abigail Daker.

They are moving back to Arlington Way.
Well, in a manner of speaking. The shop in Angel is bursting at the seams and they’ve decided to open a new workshop on Arlington Way in October, just three doors down from their previous location. Dedicated Bobbin mechanics will specialise in the servicing of vintage bikes and hard to get components such as hub gears. But all cyclists will be welcome.

Bobbin Bicycles jewellery
Bobbin Bicycles jewellery.

Vintage Goodwood here we come.
Bobbin Bicycles have provided Vintage at Goodwood with a fleet of promotional bikes so that they can flyer all over town. They have a pitch at the festival alongside the Old Bicycle Company from Essex – which specialises in Penny Farthings. Sadly, here we don’t come. Amelia’s Magazine has not been made welcome at Vintage at Goodwood.

Bobbin Bicycles wall

The independent bike shops all get along.
And why not? They all specialise in their own thing, and quite often a boyfriend and girlfriend will come into Bobbin Bicycles with different ideas of what they want to ride. The girl wants an upright, the boy wants a fix. So they send him down the road to Condor Cycles or up the road to Mosquito. Yes, 80% of their customers are female, possibly down to the attitude and service of Bobbin staff, which is deliberately very accessible and non technology based.

Winter Cycling by Joana Faria
Winter Cycling by Joana Faria.

Top tips for autumn and winter cycling.
Many people are merely fair weather cyclists (not me!) but cycling through the British winter will keep you warm. You’ll arrive at work with a good feeling inside, blood pumping, ready to get down to business: you don’t get that sitting on an overheated bus. But make sure you have decent lights because they’ll make you feel really smug when it gets dark early. Get a good cape to whack over the top of your clothes if it’s raining. Waterproof trousers are not a good look but leather jackets are. They keep the wind out and they look good too. Stay on your bikes! Honestly, it’s by the far the best way to travel at all times of the year. And I speak from experience.

You can visit the friendly staff at Bobbin Bicycles at 397 St John Street, London, EC1V 4LD or you can drool over their website here. And do say hello at Vintage at Goodwood.

Bobbin Bicycles SHOP

Natasha-Thompson-Vintage-Goodwood-Illustration
Vintage at Goodwood by Natasha Thompson.

I must admit, approved I’ve had my reservations from the start. Right from the moment when they wheeled out that universally irritating celebrity known as Lily Allen. Young, for sale rich, famous and by all accounts a pain in the butt. Best known amongst the vintage community for out-bidding everyone else on all the best clothes at auction. Admittedly the closest I have ever got to Lily Allen was when she nonchalantly flicked cigarette ash on me as I passed her huge chauffeur driven four wheel drive on my bike one day last summer. But I think this tells me enough.

Vintage at Goodwood is a new festival. A new festival afloat in the sea of other festivals now populating British weekends throughout the summer months. Not a weekend goes by without at least two or three wonderful festivals that I know about to chose from, and many others that I don’t. Trying to find a niche market that hasn’t already spent as much as they can afford on summer festival frivolities is surely not an easy thing to do. Not surprisingly Vintage at Goodwood hasn’t sold out in it’s first year.

lilyallen-vintage dress(by cat sims)
Lily Allen in a vintage dress by Cat Sims.

So, they’ve done a notably huge amount of advertising – plastering everything from Bobbin Bicycles to bus billboards with the distinctive Vintage at Goodwood posters, which proclaim a festival that places as much emphasis on art, fashion, film and design as it does on music. All well and good, it’s a trend pioneered by the likes of Latitude and Secret Garden Party, but I’ve yet to fathom exactly how the mix works this time round. The only emphasis I can see has been on ‘curating’ a very large shopping area: even John Lewis gets a presence on their old-fashioned High Street.

Vintage at Goodwood poster
A Vintage at Goodwood poster near Brick Lane.

And who, exactly, is the “glamping” crowd they want to attract? “Vintage” as a lifestyle choice is something wholeheartedly embraced by people on a budget who like to champion an individualistic, upcycling, DIY aesthetic. Many of my readers for instance. Why, I’ve been wearing Chazza clothes since I could walk into a shop. Beyond Retro is my local store. Okay, since from about 1999 I’ve mainly favoured clothes from the 1980s over anything earlier, but today even this most silly of decades gets the Vintage treatment at Vintage at Goodwood.

But the Goodwood Estate also hosts Goodwood Revival – a glamourous motoring and aviation event aimed at people with a little bit more money than your average Vintage Enthusiast of the kind I speak of. It’s been written about in posh supermarket Waitrose’s own magazine, and fawned over by the right wing press. “They are used to catering to Goodwood Revival, who are basically mostly very wealthy, vintage car/plane owners… and where people ONLY seem to care how much money/how many stately homes you have.” This is clearly a festival with pretensions to be more than the mere stamping ground of a bunch of fashionable east end types. And yet many of these very people are the ones making the festival happen. Thrifty vintage enthusiasts fill the vintage shopping area with their stalls. They’re volunteering their time to be stewards of boudoirs. Vintage bloggers have written glowing posts about how much they look forward to the festival, thereby ensuring there is huge amounts of hype online to compliment the more traditional advertising. But are these very same people being looked after by the corporate wheels of Goodwood, Freud Comm and co?

JuneChanpoomidle-VintageGoodwood
Illustration by June Chanpoomidle.

At Amelia’s Magazine we’ve always tried to support as many small festivals as possible, especially the new ones, the ones focused on green issues and the ones that will appeal to our readership. You’d think, given this quote in the Telegraph (soz) today, that I would be the ideal kind of press to invite along to Vintage at Goodwood. “Vintage fashion is a win-win. It’s about upcycling, recycling, thriftiness and great design. I felt this was the right time to celebrate it and show people how good vintage links music, fashion and film.” Does this sound anything like the kind of stuff we promote on this blog, day in day out? Only this week we’ve published interviews with Think, Act, Vote and Bobbin Bicycles, both of whom have a presence at Vintage at Goodwood that gets a mention in our blogs.

Unhappy at the way that the press team for Vintage at Goodwood dismissed me without so much as a by your leave, and uneasy about the complaints I noted on the Vintage at Goodwood Facebook site regarding a lack of transparency over ticket pricing a few weeks ago, I decided to dig around for a bit more information. Someone, somewhere clearly has money. Freud Comm are the huge corporate PR agency responsible for the massive amounts of press you see. They also look after Nike, Asda, KFC, Sky, the Olympics and drinks giant Diageo, who has close ties to the festival. Cheap they cannot be to hire.

I am small fry to Freud, as are all those other eager bloggers. Freud doesn’t even have a twitter feed. Or a blog. They are beyond such things. But they also don’t understand the power of such things. Or maybe they would not be so dismissive of those with such close ties to the market they are trying to reach.

Glamping By Jessica Sharville 2
Glamping by Jessica Sharville.

As soon as I started to ask around I discovered a lot of unhappiness… and I was only scratching the surface. Bloggers that have gushed about Vintage at Goodwood for months had applied for press passes only to be turned down this, the week before – forced to purchase their own tickets to experience the festival they so much wanted to write about. Even seasoned journalists writing for big websites have been turned down. Now I’m no marketing genius, but it seems to me that if you have a new festival, and you haven’t sold out, it makes no sense at all to turn down any enthusiastic journos. After all, it costs the organisers nothing to let people in for free, and our eagerness should be appreciated because it doesn’t come without costs to us when we don’t have huge expense accounts to fall back on (travel and food soon mount up). Presuming that Vintage at Goodwood would like to continue next year, surely it’s a wise idea to maximise your chances of positive press from day one? For this very reason I will always send a press copy of Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration to any blogger that asks, no matter how well read their website is, or not. I appreciate that you want to spend time writing about my project. (ask away)

But there’s more…. getting Vintage at Goodwood off the ground has not been without its casualties along the way. And here you’ll have to bear with me if I adopt an air of secrecy – many of these people are still going to Vintage at Goodwood anyway – but tell me this, does this sound like a happy bunny? “It is a real shame as I have not met one person who is genuinely excited to go. Most are curious about how bad it will be and want to see it fail due to the poor behaviour from the organisers.”

Vintage illustration by Nathalie Laurence
Vintage illustration by Nathalie Laurence.

As Vintage at Goodwood have decided to focus on the shopping aspect of the event the costs of stalls have spiralled, well out of the reach of many young Vintage Stockists. A key curator has dropped out. One Vintage Enthusiast who shall remain nameless told me that “It’s all a big money making sham.” Many things will cost more (on top of the ticket price) during the festival. Another told me “I may as well rent a shop in Brighton for a month for the price they were asking for a pitch the size of a stamp.” I find all of this desperately sad. As a way of life Vintage is not about this. I understand the need for a new festival to break even, but at the expense of all those who help out along the way? It’s just not right.

Another quote: “I have heard nothing but bad things which is so sad as I have high hopes for the event.” I really wish I was able to get along to Vintage at Goodwood to make a judgement on it myself. As a concept it sounds great. Many many good friends will be attending, including Tatty Devine, Supermarket Sarah, Bobbin Bicycles, Think, Act, Vote… the list goes on. I would have loved to have covered the green lectures and meet the people who attend in all their fabulous finery. Vintage as a lifestyle is something I wholeheartedly support. As are festivals. Can you imagine a better bunch to photograph, illustrate and talk about for Amelia’s Magazine?

Wayne in Blue and Ochre by GarethAHopkins
Wayne Hemmingway (he’s behind Vintage at Goodwood) by Gareth Hopkins.

Sadly it is not to be. I can’t afford to pay for a ticket, especially given the time it takes me to write a festival up, which usually approaches a week and bearing in mind that no one pays me to write. It’s also very tiring (as anyone working the festival circuit will tell you), which is why I’ve stayed at home in London for the past few weekends – although I had set aside time to visit Vintage at Goodwood and see if it lived up to the hype. Instead I hope to hear from others who are going, fingers crossed. And do tell me your thoughts too, especially after the event. I hope you have a truly wonderful time if you are going, either as a punter or a contributor. Everyone. But organisers, remember this. Look after your team. They are what will make Vintage at Goodwood what it is, not the rich people glamping it up in luxury teepees and yurts. Don’t forget what Vintage as a lifestyle truly means…

* I did make it to VAG in the end… My review of Vintage at Goodwood is now online and you can read it here.*

Categories ,Bobbin Bicycles, ,cat sims, ,Gareth Hopkins, ,Jessica Sharville, ,John Lewis, ,June Chanpoomidole, ,lily allen, ,Natasha Thompson, ,Nathalie Laurence, ,recycling, ,Supermarket Sarah, ,Tatty Devine, ,Think Act Vote, ,Upcycling, ,Vintage at Goodwood

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Amelia’s Magazine | Vintage at Goodwood: Festival Preview

Bobbin Bicycles wall
Natasha-Thompson-Bobbins-Bicycles-Girl-Cape-Illustration
Bobbin Bicycles by Natasha Thompson.

I first heard of Bobbin Bicycles just over three years ago, shop when as a nascent bespoke bike company they contacted me to suggest featuring some of their imported upright Dutch bicycles in my Amelia’s Magazine fashion spreads. This was a canny move from husband and wife team Tom Morris and Sian Emmison because I am a big fan of cycling and we shot Bobbin Bicycles several times for the final print issues of the magazine.

Bobbin Bicycles tom and sian
Tom and Sian in Bobbin Bicycles. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

Today Bobbin Bicycles has grown into a well known business that employs six people and is set to open a bespoke and vintage bike repair workshop. They’re launching their own brand of upright Bobbin Bicycles in Australia, visit this to be followed shortly thereafter in the USA and are set to produce their own brand of Bobbin Bicycles branded panniers and capes. They’ve quickly become the go to people for the kind of upright bicycle that is increasingly favoured by townie types looking for sturdiness and style, buy information pills and indeed they’re so busy that Sian barely has time to say hello as she poses for a photo before returning to the phones in her subterranean office below their lovely shop in St John Street, Islington in North London. Instead I catch up with the lovely Tom in the basement of their bulging store to find out a little bit more about Bobbin Bicycles.

Alexis-West-Bobbin-Bicycles-tom morris
Tom Morris by Alexis West.

The love affair with bikes (and with each other) began long ago in Amsterdam.
Both Tom and Sian were fine artists living abroad who fell in love with riding Dutch bikes. It was about a whole lifestyle that was old fashioned, elegant, relaxed and most of all sociable, for in Amsterdam it is not uncommon to ride in groups and chit chat along the way. They were commissioned to film a bike race for the Dutch Arts Council, and the rest, as they like to say, is history.

Fast forward to 2001. London. The daily grind.
On their return home to the big smoke Tom found work in advertising, and Sian worked for cult furniture company SGP, which is based on Curtain Road. But they dreamed of something more… and so in-between freelance work they started to import bikes from Holland. At first this meant touring around Holland in a van to pick up bikes which they shipped back to the UK to sell from a storage unit. Within weeks they had moved onto Eyre Street Hill in Farringdon, where they shared a space with watchmakers and jewellers.

Bobbin Bicycles bells

Their glamourous “atelier showroom” was a bit like Turkish gambling den.
No one else had thought to specialise in Dutch bikes and soon their appointment only showroom was so popular they were selling ten bikes a day. Being well schooled in the ways of branding they targeted their customers with great care: Tom draped a curtain over the grottier bits of the workshop and played nice music. Customers got the “wow” factor when coming in off the street and soon the national newspapers started to call when they wanted a story about upright bikes.

Pashley began to stalk them.
Bobbin Bicycles had moved to Arlington Way by the time that Pashley paid them a secret visit. Thinking that not everyone wants a Dutch bike Tom had already approached the well known British brand, but he was unaware of the mutual interest. Pashleys are smaller in size and offer more gears, plus they offer the added bonus of all British manufacture UK. Fast forward to 2010: Bobbin Bicycles now operates from a lovely little shop in Angel and is one of over 100 UK stockists of Pashleys, but who else can boast their very own exclusive colour range? At Bobbin Bicycles you can now pick up the Pashley Provence in a special mint or mustard colourway.

Bobbin Bicycles

Upright bikes have become a lot more fashionable of late.
As more cyclists take to the roads many are choosing to ride sit-up-and-beg bikes of the type that Bobbin Bicycles sell, and lots more bike manufacturers are “having a pop” at simple upright bikes. Downstairs Tom shows me some new Globe bikes made by the huge company Specialised. People are now making appointments to visit Bobbin Bicycles from as far away as LA and Russia. *NB: I do not condone travelling across the world to purchase a bike. But definitely buy a bike. Everyone should have one.

Bobbin Bicycles baskets
Piles of baskets in the basement of the shop.

Steel or aluminium? Why, what’s the difference?
Pashleys are made with a beautiful thin lugged steel frame, but most modern bikes are made from lightweight aluminium that makes for a more juddery ride, though they are definitely not as heavy when lifting up steps. Bobbin Bicycles can cater to all your upright wishes and stock a huge range of brands including the wonderfully named Swedish Skeppshult.

London has way more cycling tribes than other cities.
In other cities the cyclists tend to look quite homogeneous, but here in London we have many different identifiable types. Tom was amongst the first to label the big three cycling tribes for an article in the Independent. The Traditional, Fold-up and Fixie tribes can now be broken into multiple subsets and mash ups, including the Fixed Tweed tribe.

Tweed Run by Emma Raby
Tweed Run by Emma Raby.

Bobbin Bicycles ran a tea stop for this year’s Tweed Run.
The Tweed Run is perfectly Bobbin: an annual celebration of all things upright and traditional about cycling. This year they presented a prize for the best decorated bike to a lady from Holland, who arrived with an old 70s shopper decorated with a multicoloured knitted saddle cover and matching dress guards on the back wheels.

Tweed run by Maria del carmensmith
The winning bike by Maria del Carmen Smith.

Boris bikes. Good news for Bobbin Bicycles.
Tom loves the idea of cycling into town on Boris bike and then getting a cab back. Or simply having the option to avoid the horrors of the night bus. Even though the amount of money spent on cycling in the UK is a fraction of what is spent in countries such as Denmark, Holland and Germany the new London bike scheme will undoubtedly encourage more people to cycle. Here’s how it goes: people will try them out instead of investing in a cheap bike from Halfords. Once they get into the idea of cycling they will realise how heavy and unwieldy the Boris bikes are and will decide to graduate onto something nicer. Hopefully a Bobbin Bicycle, for instance.

boris bike by vicky yates
Boris Bike by Vicky Yates.

Collaborations are good fun.
In the cabinet behind me are wonderful bowler and deerstalker hats designed to fit over helmets. They were made by the historically influenced milliner Eloise Moody, who has also created a sexy reflective nurses cape. Bobbin Bicycles will launch their own range of panniers and capes for spring 2011, and the shop stocks lots of small boutique brands you would not find elsewhere. They’ve provided bikes for a Mark Ronson video and the newspapers always come knocking when they want to borrow a pretty upright.

Abi Daker - Eloise Moody - bikes
Eloise Moody by Abigail Daker.

They are moving back to Arlington Way.
Well, in a manner of speaking. The shop in Angel is bursting at the seams and they’ve decided to open a new workshop on Arlington Way in October, just three doors down from their previous location. Dedicated Bobbin mechanics will specialise in the servicing of vintage bikes and hard to get components such as hub gears. But all cyclists will be welcome.

Bobbin Bicycles jewellery
Bobbin Bicycles jewellery.

Vintage Goodwood here we come.
Bobbin Bicycles have provided Vintage at Goodwood with a fleet of promotional bikes so that they can flyer all over town. They have a pitch at the festival alongside the Old Bicycle Company from Essex – which specialises in Penny Farthings. Sadly, here we don’t come. Amelia’s Magazine has not been made welcome at Vintage at Goodwood.

The independent bike shops all get along.
And why not? They all specialise in their own thing, and quite often a boyfriend and girlfriend will come into Bobbin Bicycles with different ideas of what they want to ride. The girl wants an upright, the boy wants a fix. So they send him down the road to Condor Cycles or up the road to Mosquito. Yes, 80% of their customers are female, possibly down to the attitude and service of Bobbin staff, which is deliberately very accessible and non technology based.

Winter Cycling by Joana Faria
Winter Cycling by Joana Faria.

Top tips for autumn and winter cycling.
Many people are merely fair weather cyclists (not me!) but cycling through the British winter will keep you warm. You’ll arrive at work with a good feeling inside, blood pumping, ready to get down to business: you don’t get that sitting on an overheated bus. But make sure you have decent lights because they’ll make you feel really smug when it gets dark early. Get a good cape to whack over the top of your clothes if it’s raining. Waterproof trousers are not a good look but leather jackets are. They keep the wind out and they look good too. Stay on your bikes! Honestly, it’s by the far the best way to travel at all times of the year. And I speak from experience.

You can visit the friendly staff at Bobbin Bicycles at 397 St John Street, London, EC1V 4LD or you can drool over their website here. And do say hello at Vintage at Goodwood.

Bobbin Bicycles SHOP

Natasha-Thompson-Bobbins-Bicycles-Girl-Cape-Illustration
Bobbin Bicycles by Natasha Thompson.

I first heard of Bobbin Bicycles just over three years ago, no rx when as a nascent bespoke bike company they contacted me to suggest featuring some of their imported upright Dutch bicycles in my Amelia’s Magazine fashion spreads. This was a canny move from husband and wife team Tom Morris and Sian Emmison because I am a big fan of cycling and we shot Bobbin Bicycles several times for the final print issues of the magazine.

Bobbin Bicycles tom and sian
Tom and Sian in Bobbin Bicycles. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

Today Bobbin Bicycles has grown into a well known business that employs six people and is set to open a bespoke and vintage bike repair workshop. They’re launching their own brand of upright Bobbin Bicycles in Australia, page to be followed shortly thereafter in the USA and are set to produce their own brand of Bobbin Bicycles branded panniers and capes. They’ve quickly become the go to people for the kind of upright bicycle that is increasingly favoured by townie types looking for sturdiness and style, dosage and indeed they’re so busy that Sian barely has time to say hello as she poses for a photo before returning to the phones in her subterranean office below their lovely shop in St John Street, Islington in North London. Instead I catch up with the lovely Tom in the basement of their bulging store to find out a little bit more about Bobbin Bicycles.

Alexis-West-Bobbin-Bicycles-tom morris
Tom Morris by Alexis West.

The love affair with bikes (and with each other) began long ago in Amsterdam.
Both Tom and Sian were fine artists living abroad who fell in love with riding Dutch bikes. It was about a whole lifestyle that was old fashioned, elegant, relaxed and most of all sociable, for in Amsterdam it is not uncommon to ride in groups and chit chat along the way. They were commissioned to film a bike race for the Dutch Arts Council, and the rest, as they like to say, is history.

Fast forward to 2001. London. The daily grind.
On their return home to the big smoke Tom found work in advertising, and Sian worked for cult furniture company SGP, which is based on Curtain Road. But they dreamed of something more… and so in-between freelance work they started to import bikes from Holland. At first this meant touring around Holland in a van to pick up bikes which they shipped back to the UK to sell from a storage unit. Within weeks they had moved onto Eyre Street Hill in Farringdon, where they shared a space with watchmakers and jewellers.

Bobbin Bicycles bells

Their glamourous “atelier showroom” was a bit like Turkish gambling den.
No one else had thought to specialise in Dutch bikes and soon their appointment only showroom was so popular they were selling ten bikes a day. Being well schooled in the ways of branding they targeted their customers with great care: Tom draped a curtain over the grottier bits of the workshop and played nice music. Customers got the “wow” factor when coming in off the street and soon the national newspapers started to call when they wanted a story about upright bikes.

Pashley began to stalk them.
Bobbin Bicycles had moved to Arlington Way by the time that Pashley paid them a secret visit. Thinking that not everyone wants a Dutch bike Tom had already approached the well known British brand, but he was unaware of the mutual interest. Pashleys are smaller in size and offer more gears, plus they offer the added bonus of all British manufacture UK. Fast forward to 2010: Bobbin Bicycles now operates from a lovely little shop in Angel and is one of over 100 UK stockists of Pashleys, but who else can boast their very own exclusive colour range? At Bobbin Bicycles you can now pick up the Pashley Provence in a special mint or mustard colourway.

Bobbin Bicycles

Upright bikes have become a lot more fashionable of late.
As more cyclists take to the roads many are choosing to ride sit-up-and-beg bikes of the type that Bobbin Bicycles sell, and lots more bike manufacturers are “having a pop” at simple upright bikes. Downstairs Tom shows me some new Globe bikes made by the huge company Specialised. People are now making appointments to visit Bobbin Bicycles from as far away as LA and Russia. *NB: I do not condone travelling across the world to purchase a bike. But definitely buy a bike. Everyone should have one.

Bobbin Bicycles baskets
Piles of baskets in the basement of the shop.

Steel or aluminium? Why, what’s the difference?
Pashleys are made with a beautiful thin lugged steel frame, but most modern bikes are made from lightweight aluminium that makes for a more juddery ride, though they are definitely not as heavy when lifting up steps. Bobbin Bicycles can cater to all your upright wishes and stock a huge range of brands including the wonderfully named Swedish Skeppshult.

London has way more cycling tribes than other cities.
In other cities the cyclists tend to look quite homogeneous, but here in London we have many different identifiable types. Tom was amongst the first to label the big three cycling tribes for an article in the Independent. The Traditional, Fold-up and Fixie tribes can now be broken into multiple subsets and mash ups, including the Fixed Tweed tribe.

Tweed Run by Emma Raby
Tweed Run by Emma Raby.

Bobbin Bicycles ran a tea stop for this year’s Tweed Run.
The Tweed Run is perfectly Bobbin: an annual celebration of all things upright and traditional about cycling. This year they presented a prize for the best decorated bike to a lady from Holland, who arrived with an old 70s shopper decorated with a multicoloured knitted saddle cover and matching dress guards on the back wheels.

Tweed run by Maria del carmensmith
The winning bike by Maria del Carmen Smith.

Boris bikes. Good news for Bobbin Bicycles.
Tom loves the idea of cycling into town on Boris bike and then getting a cab back. Or simply having the option to avoid the horrors of the night bus. Even though the amount of money spent on cycling in the UK is a fraction of what is spent in countries such as Denmark, Holland and Germany the new London bike scheme will undoubtedly encourage more people to cycle. Here’s how it goes: people will try them out instead of investing in a cheap bike from Halfords. Once they get into the idea of cycling they will realise how heavy and unwieldy the Boris bikes are and will decide to graduate onto something nicer. Hopefully a Bobbin Bicycle, for instance.

boris bike by vicky yates
Boris Bike by Vicky Yates.

Collaborations are good fun.
In the cabinet behind me are wonderful bowler and deerstalker hats designed to fit over helmets. They were made by the historically influenced milliner Eloise Moody, who has also created a sexy reflective nurses cape. Bobbin Bicycles will launch their own range of panniers and capes for spring 2011, and the shop stocks lots of small boutique brands you would not find elsewhere. They’ve provided bikes for a Mark Ronson video and the newspapers always come knocking when they want to borrow a pretty upright.

Abi Daker - Eloise Moody - bikes
Eloise Moody by Abigail Daker.

They are moving back to Arlington Way.
Well, in a manner of speaking. The shop in Angel is bursting at the seams and they’ve decided to open a new workshop on Arlington Way in October, just three doors down from their previous location. Dedicated Bobbin mechanics will specialise in the servicing of vintage bikes and hard to get components such as hub gears. But all cyclists will be welcome.

Bobbin Bicycles jewellery
Bobbin Bicycles jewellery.

Vintage Goodwood here we come.
Bobbin Bicycles have provided Vintage at Goodwood with a fleet of promotional bikes so that they can flyer all over town. They have a pitch at the festival alongside the Old Bicycle Company from Essex – which specialises in Penny Farthings. Sadly, here we don’t come. Amelia’s Magazine has not been made welcome at Vintage at Goodwood.

Bobbin Bicycles wall

The independent bike shops all get along.
And why not? They all specialise in their own thing, and quite often a boyfriend and girlfriend will come into Bobbin Bicycles with different ideas of what they want to ride. The girl wants an upright, the boy wants a fix. So they send him down the road to Condor Cycles or up the road to Mosquito. Yes, 80% of their customers are female, possibly down to the attitude and service of Bobbin staff, which is deliberately very accessible and non technology based.

Winter Cycling by Joana Faria
Winter Cycling by Joana Faria.

Top tips for autumn and winter cycling.
Many people are merely fair weather cyclists (not me!) but cycling through the British winter will keep you warm. You’ll arrive at work with a good feeling inside, blood pumping, ready to get down to business: you don’t get that sitting on an overheated bus. But make sure you have decent lights because they’ll make you feel really smug when it gets dark early. Get a good cape to whack over the top of your clothes if it’s raining. Waterproof trousers are not a good look but leather jackets are. They keep the wind out and they look good too. Stay on your bikes! Honestly, it’s by the far the best way to travel at all times of the year. And I speak from experience.

You can visit the friendly staff at Bobbin Bicycles at 397 St John Street, London, EC1V 4LD or you can drool over their website here. And do say hello at Vintage at Goodwood.

Bobbin Bicycles SHOP

Natasha-Thompson-Vintage-Goodwood-Illustration
Vintage at Goodwood by Natasha Thompson.

I must admit, approved I’ve had my reservations from the start. Right from the moment when they wheeled out that universally irritating celebrity known as Lily Allen. Young, for sale rich, famous and by all accounts a pain in the butt. Best known amongst the vintage community for out-bidding everyone else on all the best clothes at auction. Admittedly the closest I have ever got to Lily Allen was when she nonchalantly flicked cigarette ash on me as I passed her huge chauffeur driven four wheel drive on my bike one day last summer. But I think this tells me enough.

Vintage at Goodwood is a new festival. A new festival afloat in the sea of other festivals now populating British weekends throughout the summer months. Not a weekend goes by without at least two or three wonderful festivals that I know about to chose from, and many others that I don’t. Trying to find a niche market that hasn’t already spent as much as they can afford on summer festival frivolities is surely not an easy thing to do. Not surprisingly Vintage at Goodwood hasn’t sold out in it’s first year.

lilyallen-vintage dress(by cat sims)
Lily Allen in a vintage dress by Cat Sims.

So, they’ve done a notably huge amount of advertising – plastering everything from Bobbin Bicycles to bus billboards with the distinctive Vintage at Goodwood posters, which proclaim a festival that places as much emphasis on art, fashion, film and design as it does on music. All well and good, it’s a trend pioneered by the likes of Latitude and Secret Garden Party, but I’ve yet to fathom exactly how the mix works this time round. The only emphasis I can see has been on ‘curating’ a very large shopping area: even John Lewis gets a presence on their old-fashioned High Street.

Vintage at Goodwood poster
A Vintage at Goodwood poster near Brick Lane.

And who, exactly, is the “glamping” crowd they want to attract? “Vintage” as a lifestyle choice is something wholeheartedly embraced by people on a budget who like to champion an individualistic, upcycling, DIY aesthetic. Many of my readers for instance. Why, I’ve been wearing Chazza clothes since I could walk into a shop. Beyond Retro is my local store. Okay, since from about 1999 I’ve mainly favoured clothes from the 1980s over anything earlier, but today even this most silly of decades gets the Vintage treatment at Vintage at Goodwood.

But the Goodwood Estate also hosts Goodwood Revival – a glamourous motoring and aviation event aimed at people with a little bit more money than your average Vintage Enthusiast of the kind I speak of. It’s been written about in posh supermarket Waitrose’s own magazine, and fawned over by the right wing press. “They are used to catering to Goodwood Revival, who are basically mostly very wealthy, vintage car/plane owners… and where people ONLY seem to care how much money/how many stately homes you have.” This is clearly a festival with pretensions to be more than the mere stamping ground of a bunch of fashionable east end types. And yet many of these very people are the ones making the festival happen. Thrifty vintage enthusiasts fill the vintage shopping area with their stalls. They’re volunteering their time to be stewards of boudoirs. Vintage bloggers have written glowing posts about how much they look forward to the festival, thereby ensuring there is huge amounts of hype online to compliment the more traditional advertising. But are these very same people being looked after by the corporate wheels of Goodwood, Freud Comm and co?

JuneChanpoomidle-VintageGoodwood
Illustration by June Chanpoomidle.

At Amelia’s Magazine we’ve always tried to support as many small festivals as possible, especially the new ones, the ones focused on green issues and the ones that will appeal to our readership. You’d think, given this quote in the Telegraph (soz) today, that I would be the ideal kind of press to invite along to Vintage at Goodwood. “Vintage fashion is a win-win. It’s about upcycling, recycling, thriftiness and great design. I felt this was the right time to celebrate it and show people how good vintage links music, fashion and film.” Does this sound anything like the kind of stuff we promote on this blog, day in day out? Only this week we’ve published interviews with Think, Act, Vote and Bobbin Bicycles, both of whom have a presence at Vintage at Goodwood that gets a mention in our blogs.

Unhappy at the way that the press team for Vintage at Goodwood dismissed me without so much as a by your leave, and uneasy about the complaints I noted on the Vintage at Goodwood Facebook site regarding a lack of transparency over ticket pricing a few weeks ago, I decided to dig around for a bit more information. Someone, somewhere clearly has money. Freud Comm are the huge corporate PR agency responsible for the massive amounts of press you see. They also look after Nike, Asda, KFC, Sky, the Olympics and drinks giant Diageo, who has close ties to the festival. Cheap they cannot be to hire.

I am small fry to Freud, as are all those other eager bloggers. Freud doesn’t even have a twitter feed. Or a blog. They are beyond such things. But they also don’t understand the power of such things. Or maybe they would not be so dismissive of those with such close ties to the market they are trying to reach.

Glamping By Jessica Sharville 2
Glamping by Jessica Sharville.

As soon as I started to ask around I discovered a lot of unhappiness… and I was only scratching the surface. Bloggers that have gushed about Vintage at Goodwood for months had applied for press passes only to be turned down this, the week before – forced to purchase their own tickets to experience the festival they so much wanted to write about. Even seasoned journalists writing for big websites have been turned down. Now I’m no marketing genius, but it seems to me that if you have a new festival, and you haven’t sold out, it makes no sense at all to turn down any enthusiastic journos. After all, it costs the organisers nothing to let people in for free, and our eagerness should be appreciated because it doesn’t come without costs to us when we don’t have huge expense accounts to fall back on (travel and food soon mount up). Presuming that Vintage at Goodwood would like to continue next year, surely it’s a wise idea to maximise your chances of positive press from day one? For this very reason I will always send a press copy of Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration to any blogger that asks, no matter how well read their website is, or not. I appreciate that you want to spend time writing about my project. (ask away)

But there’s more…. getting Vintage at Goodwood off the ground has not been without its casualties along the way. And here you’ll have to bear with me if I adopt an air of secrecy – many of these people are still going to Vintage at Goodwood anyway – but tell me this, does this sound like a happy bunny? “It is a real shame as I have not met one person who is genuinely excited to go. Most are curious about how bad it will be and want to see it fail due to the poor behaviour from the organisers.”

Vintage illustration by Nathalie Laurence
Vintage illustration by Nathalie Laurence.

As Vintage at Goodwood have decided to focus on the shopping aspect of the event the costs of stalls have spiralled, well out of the reach of many young Vintage Stockists. A key curator has dropped out. One Vintage Enthusiast who shall remain nameless told me that “It’s all a big money making sham.” Many things will cost more (on top of the ticket price) during the festival. Another told me “I may as well rent a shop in Brighton for a month for the price they were asking for a pitch the size of a stamp.” I find all of this desperately sad. As a way of life Vintage is not about this. I understand the need for a new festival to break even, but at the expense of all those who help out along the way? It’s just not right.

Another quote: “I have heard nothing but bad things which is so sad as I have high hopes for the event.” I really wish I was able to get along to Vintage at Goodwood to make a judgement on it myself. As a concept it sounds great. Many many good friends will be attending, including Tatty Devine, Supermarket Sarah, Bobbin Bicycles, Think, Act, Vote… the list goes on. I would have loved to have covered the green lectures and meet the people who attend in all their fabulous finery. Vintage as a lifestyle is something I wholeheartedly support. As are festivals. Can you imagine a better bunch to photograph, illustrate and talk about for Amelia’s Magazine?

Wayne in Blue and Ochre by GarethAHopkins
Wayne Hemmingway (he’s behind Vintage at Goodwood) by Gareth Hopkins.

Sadly it is not to be. I can’t afford to pay for a ticket, especially given the time it takes me to write a festival up, which usually approaches a week and bearing in mind that no one pays me to write. It’s also very tiring (as anyone working the festival circuit will tell you), which is why I’ve stayed at home in London for the past few weekends – although I had set aside time to visit Vintage at Goodwood and see if it lived up to the hype. Instead I hope to hear from others who are going, fingers crossed. And do tell me your thoughts too, especially after the event. I hope you have a truly wonderful time if you are going, either as a punter or a contributor. Everyone. But organisers, remember this. Look after your team. They are what will make Vintage at Goodwood what it is, not the rich people glamping it up in luxury teepees and yurts. Don’t forget what Vintage as a lifestyle truly means…

* I did make it to VAG in the end… My review of Vintage at Goodwood is now online and you can read it here.*

Categories ,Bobbin Bicycles, ,cat sims, ,Gareth Hopkins, ,Jessica Sharville, ,John Lewis, ,June Chanpoomidole, ,lily allen, ,Natasha Thompson, ,Nathalie Laurence, ,recycling, ,Supermarket Sarah, ,Tatty Devine, ,Think Act Vote, ,Upcycling, ,Vintage at Goodwood

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Amelia’s Magazine | Paradise Lost: London College of Fashion ‘Digital Catwalk’ Second Year Student Show 2012

amelias magazine - london college of fashion - paradise lost - Digital Catwalk Angela Cote

All photographs by Milan Mosna

There was an impressive array of design flair, organisational wizardry and interesting pattern design on show at the London College of Fashion last Wednseday, especially considering the majority of the designs were from 2nd year BA students, and that many of these hold down jobs as well as studying. As the press release was at pains to point out, these are challenging times for budding creatives and it’s good to see the sheer bloody-mindedness that it takes to put on this sort of event still going strong in the student body.

I’m only sorry I can’t point you to more information about some of these “potential fashion leaders of tomorrow” on the web as, busy and second year as they are, they don’t seem to have sorted blogs or portfolios that I can find online, though they are obviously at least halfway to realising that promotion is nine tenths of success because the reception space was full to the brim.

amelias magazine - london college of fashion - paradise lost - Digital Catwalk -  2FDR by Gareth A Hopkins
Illustration by Gareth A Hopkins of dress by Sunny De Las Alas

The small space we were all crammed in also featured a display on widescreen tvs of the work from the Fashion Media course, although it was soon too busy to see the screens properly, let alone make one’s way to the supply of Cava and biscuits. obviously I contrived to do both; had lots of Cava and biscuits and managed to note down at least the name of Leah Patel whose highly saturated promo shots I loved.

amelias magazine - london college of fashion - paradise lost - Digital Catwalk - Taj Chelvaiyah
Clear flowing lines from Taj Chelvaiyah

amelias magazine - london college of fashion - paradise lost - Digital Catwalk - Nicole Quadrio
Exciting moth-like scultural prints from Nicole Quadrio

Once we got into the show space I nabbed a space on the floor; annoying the photographers with my novelty oversized briefcase (I came from school) as I like to do. The high tech addition of twin powerpoint presentations of the students’ pattern designs and inspirations was cute, especially the classic marbling shot and messed up fashion collage. But the obvious inspiration and skill in many of the garments themselves was anything but cute.

amelias magazine - london college of fashion - paradise lost - DIGITAL-CATWALK SHOW-2FDR-JuneChanpoomidole
More highly evocative designs from Taj Chelvaiyah as illustrated by June Sees

I don’t know what second year fashion student’s work usually looks like, but I overheard some front row LCF old hats saying what a quality group it was, not to mention having ‘a good dynamic‘, and being ‘much better than last year‘. Sorry if you were in last year’s cohort (presumably graduating this year), I can’t personally comment. Some definite highlights for me were Hope Freeman‘s lasercut ‘Full Circle‘ collection, especially the full length black dress (below).

amelias magazine - london college of fashion - paradise lost - Digital Catwalk -  Hope Freeman 2
She calls this technique ‘a new lace for the 21st Century‘ and talks about the circle as a reflection of eternity. Bumf aside, this piece was a crowd pleaser, and would be a definite head turner on a red carpet, managing to be sleek and simple in a very pretty intricate way, so 21st Century lace seems a fitting description. I also loved the interplay of nostalgia and modern associations in Sunny De Las Alas (yes, she has a twitter)’s lamp-post print dress, which at the time I thought was the main thing I liked about the dress, but looking at the images now it’s clear in both these pieces that the drapery is equally important, showing great interplay of shape and shine.

amelias magazine - london college of fashion - paradise lost - Digital Catwalk - Sunny De Las Alas 2 dress
amelias magazine - london college of fashion - paradise lost - Digital Catwalk - Sunny De Las Alas cityscape prints
Dress by Sunny De Las Alas and the print designs on their own.

amelias magazine - london college of fashion - paradise lost - Joanna Michalska
Joanna Michalska was a guest contributor from the Third year Design programme, but her work fitted well into the show and I very much enjoyed the denim sunset flag effect of this dress.

amelias magazine - london college of fashion - paradise lost - Digital Catwalk Angela Cote 2
Exemplifying the digital print brief, Angela Cote‘s work was inspired by toy kaleidoscope’s view of the world, refracting colour into a million repeated shapes. The designs were made with minimal wastage, employing techniques of edge to edge cutting and using as few seams as possible. Her pieces were as seductive as they were unsettling, like looking through a kaleidoscope is.

amelias magazine - london college of fashion - paradise lost - Digital Catwalk Qimei
amelias magazine - london college of fashion - paradise lost - Digital Catwalk - Qimei Print
Another favourite for me was this fabulously colourful piece by Qimei Gai, evoking images of a lost Chinese childhood (above).

amelias magazine - london college of fashion - paradise lost - Digital Catwalk - Mina Jugovic
Finally these more subtly hued pieces from Min Jugovic made me a bit nostalgic: there was a lot of serious-faced playfulness in the show as a whole that I liked, perhaps reflecting the central idea of paradise lost – a determined dedication to beauty and opulence in austere times.

Here are my sketches:
amelias magazine - london college of fashion - paradise lost - Digital Catwalk -  jenny robins sketches 1
amelias magazine - london college of fashion - paradise lost - Digital Catwalk -  jenny robins sketches 2
amelias magazine - london college of fashion - paradise lost - Digital Catwalk -  jenny robins sketches 3

Categories ,2012, ,Angela Cote, ,BA, ,Digital Catwalk, ,Fashion Media, ,Full Circle, ,Gareth A Hopkins, ,Hope Freeman, ,Joanna Michalska, ,June Chanpoomidole, ,June Sees, ,lace, ,LCF, ,Leah Patel, ,London College of Fashion, ,Milan Mosna, ,Min Jugovic, ,Nicole Quadrio, ,Paradise Lost, ,Qimei Gai, ,Sunny De Las Alas, ,Taj Chelvaiyah

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Amelia’s Magazine | Q&A with Finnish fashion designers Hanna Riiheläinen and Emilia Hernesniemi of R/H Label

R/H Label by HollyMae
R/H Label by HollyMae.

You’ve read a bit about Finnish fashion designers Hanna Riiheläinen and Emilia Hernesniemi, viagra 100mg now here’s my Q&A with the R/H Label girls.

R/H Label by Sam Parr
R/H Label by Sam Parr.

How did you guys meet? Come on now, drugs tell the truth!
We met at the University of Art and Design Helsinki in 2003 – we studied at the same class for six years and became good friends. While doing our Masters studies we realised that we wanted to do our MA theses together and in doing so created the base for our label R/H. Both of us have always dreamt of having our own label and what could be better than putting all our skills together to create a fashion label.

R/H Label by June Chanpoomidole
R/H Label by June Chanpoomidole.

What’s best about working together? (and worst)
We have been doing very well for a label that has existed less than a year. The reason for that is that together we are stronger; we have the same motivation to build R/H up to become a solid fashion label. We create our own ways of working and the environment we like to work in. We always trust one other and support each other when needed. This is a tough business and it’s good to have someone to share the responsibilities and worries with otherwise it could be quite lonely. Of course we need to work well as a team and be able to put R/H the label before our own needs and visions. R/H is us but at the same time we like to think that it’s the third person in our company. For example while designing we always question each other whether it is ‘R/H style’ and think about the R/H girls and women who buy it and what kind of style we like to offer to them.

RH Label SS 2011RH Label SS 2011 dress
R/H Label S/S 2011.

The worst is that as close friends we might spend a bit too much time together talking and gossiping – sometimes it affects our working days so that the work that we are supposed to do gets held up. Of course sometimes we do not share an opinion about something that affects R/H and then we just have to discuss together and come up with the best possible solution. We definitely have our own, sildenafil personal design styles that we combine in the design process and that’s how R/H style is made at its best! Hanna has a more feminine and black style where as Emilia’s style is wilder with more colours and of course prints. There are similar aspects in our styles too. We both share the visual need to bring a rougher edge to the design. So in R/H garments the soft and beautiful is always mixed with rough details. R/H always comes with an attitude!

A/W 2011 by Michalis Christodoulou
R/H Label A/W 2011 by Michalis Christodoulou.

How do you split the work up and who is best at what?
We both do everything. It’s a small two ladies company at the moment so we have to be able to do whatever it takes to make R/H work. We share tasks with each other according to our interests and skills. There are always some tasks that are no-one’s favourites but we both try hard to take care of everything. Hanna is very good at taking care of the production process and contacts and Emilia is in charge of the PR meaning social media, magazines etc. Of course we have some people helping us out with certain tasks which we appreciate enormously!

RH Label SS 2011 mood
R/H Label S/S 2011.

When it comes to designing the collection, we definitely design together. The only thing that we have divided is that Hanna is in charge of making sure that the collection sustains its major theme and style in the cuts, the silhouette and the core design. Emilia designs all R/H prints and creates the colour world of the collection. Designing the collection is always a random group of unique situations so it’s hard to say who had the first idea. We sometimes have the same ideas, maybe because we spend so much time together. It can be that another one comes up with an idea that the other one then continues. We both design first by ourselves and then start to combine the ideas together. We like to play with the contrasts of masculine and feminine through mixing soft materials with rough details. 

RH Label SS 2011 moodshot
R/H Label S/S 2011.

What’s your biggest sources of inspiration?
We get our inspirations from different fields of life. It can be a picture in a local newspaper, a certain mood in a movie, colours combined together and seen somewhere, people you might meet and their style, atmospheres in the city at different times of year, from each other, different historical eras, artists, female anatomy, photography, music and musicians. Very often music actually!

RH Label SS 2011 leggings
R/H Label S/S 2011.

What are your favourite materials to work with?
We like to use fine materials such as silk, silk-cotton, bamboo jersey, wool, cotton and ecological reindeer leather. Most of the materials that we use in our designs are natural and the reindeer leather that we use in R/H garment details comes from Lapland of Finland. In R/H jewellery we use materials like silver, ceramic and birch wood. We produce our jewellery mainly in Finland but also in the UK. All clothing production is done in Tallinn, Estonia. The factory is very close to us and makes great quality garments. This way it is ecological and at the same time very convenient for us. Working with a quality factory that is close to where the label retails is definitely an ethical choice.

R/H Label A/W 2011 by Michalis Christodoulou
R/H Label A/W 2011 by Michalis Christodoulou.

What was the best part about our trip to Moscow? What was the most important thing you learnt?
We loved the trip to Moscow! It was so educational and at the same time so much fun. We got so many new friends and got to know a little bit of Moscow. Everybody was friendly and warm and everything was so well organised. The most important thing that we learned was that there are many fantastic designers in the world and they all share the same kind of passion and problems that we have been facing. Toby Meadows‘ lecture about the fashion business in general was very important for us.

RH Label AW 2011 black dress
R/H Label A/W 2011.

Where do you go and what do you do to relax?
We both love to travel. We also share a love for the sun as it is a rare luxury up here in Finland. We love to do picnics in the summer time in Helsinki by the sea and in the winter we go to sauna to relax. We listen to a lot of music, read books, draw or go to see a good movie. We spend time with our beloved ones and travel to our summer cottages to relax. We drink wine with our friends and have long analysing discussions about different fields of life. We both love to laugh and dance!

R/H Label A/W 2011
R/H Label A/W 2011.

What are you working on next?
We just opened the R/H Label webshop and now we are working on the R/H Spring/Summer 2012 collection. We would love to do some collaborations with different kinds of companies – not particularly fashion – so that is something that we would like to start looking into as well. We are also looking for a place to run a little shop in the centre of Helsinki. So we’ll keep you guys posted about that. 

Finally, who would your ideal stockist in the UK be?
We are still looking for one to find us! 

Read my previous article about R/H Label or visit the R/H Label website and R/H Label online shop. Keep an eye on these girls! I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of them in the UK soon.

Categories ,Emilia Hernesniemi, ,Estonia, ,finland, ,FInnish, ,Hanna Riiheläinen, ,Helsinki, ,HollyMae, ,jewellery, ,June Chanpoomidole, ,Lapland, ,Michalis Christodoulou, ,Moscow, ,R/H Label, ,Reindeer, ,Sam Parr, ,Tallinn, ,Toby Meadows, ,University of Art and Design Helsinki

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Amelia’s Magazine | R/H Label, fashion design from Finland: meet Hanna Riiheläinen and Emilia Hernesniemi

Hanna Riiheläinen and Emilia Hernesniemi RH Label
Hanna Riiheläinen and Emilia Hernesniemi of R/H Label.

I met Hanna Riiheläinen and Emilia Hernesniemi of R/H Label on my trip to Moscow, click where they came by train (very jealous) to pitch their brand to a panel of experts for feedback, website of which *ahem* I was one. The girls studied together for six years at the University of Art & Design Helsinki, and have forged a strong partnership which made them a delight to hang out with during my stay in Russia and I was utterly charmed by their playful style, for which they are the best ambassadors. In the first of two blog posts here’s a summary of what R/H Label are up to.

RH Label by Fawn Carr
RH Label by Fawn Carr.

R/H Label was named for a combination of the girls’ surnames, and was founded only last June in Helsinki after being in the planning for way longer, both girls having studied and worked in fashion at home and abroad after graduation – I actually met Emilia a few years ago when I borrowed clothes from Agency V, where she worked as a PR. Small world eh? They took this time in the industry to learn about the commercial sides of the business and analysed what they could do best when starting their own label: clever girls. It is no surprise that their designs perfectly encapsulate the Agency V aesthetic; playful, colourful, printed. All good things in my book!

RH Label by June Chanpoomidole
RH Label by June Chanpoomidole.

Whilst the Finnish design scene is strong on the international stage, the fashion scene is something new, and so for them indigenous inspiration comes from the likes of well known furniture designers Alvar Aalto and textiles supremo Marimekko who mainly produces textiles for the home. IVANNAhelsinki is one of the only major Finnish fashion designers to have a profile abroad, as well as Laitinen menswear which has a high profile in Milan and Paris.

Hanna Riiheläinen of R/H Label in Moscow
Hanna Riiheläinen of R/H Label in Moscow.

But now is an exciting time because there is a new generation of creatives coming through. Ones to check out include fashion photographer Susanna Majuri and Helsinki based illustrator Laura Laine. Emilia and Hanna work with creatives across lots of disciplines and are inspired by Finland’s location between the east and west – a place where different visual aesthetics easily meet and mingle. Functional solutions come over from Sweden, but there is plenty of rich decorative detail to play with from the eastern side.

RH Label SS 2011 blue dressRH Label SS 2011 jacket leggings dahlia
R/H Label S/S 2011.

RH Label SS 2011 by Michalis Christodoulou
R/H Label SS 2011 by Michalis Christodoulou.

S/S 2011 was R/H Label’s first commercial collection, inspired by Dolly Parton, Mickey Mouse, Black Magic and the Nordic Summer Sky. You don’t get much more fun than that! It features a mix of local reindeer leather and bamboo jersey and all the bespoke prints were digitally printed onto silk – they like to create every element of the collection. I particularly love the purple sky and dotty dahlia prints, and was thoroughly enamoured of their ceramic eyeball necklace, created in collaboration with a local ceramics studio.

RH Label AW 2011
R/H Label A/W 2011.

RH Label AW 2011 by Michalis ChristodoulouRH Label AW 2011 by Michalis Christodoulou
R/H Label AW 2011 by Michalis Christodoulou.

For A/W 2011 they were inspired by Dragons, Mountains, Acrobats and Vagabonds. Another rich inspirational mash up! Role models that helped to inspire the collection included the strong character of Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander, and Finnish author Sofi Oksanen. Lots of black is offset again with bright prints in louche easily wearable shapes.

RH Label AW 2011 coat
R/H Label A/W 2011

Production is mainly done in Tallinn, Estonia which is 80km away, but the reindeer bags are made in Helsinki and they are keen to do more with local materials. Interest in the collection has been quick and enthusiastic and as well as stocking at home in Finland they already have stockists in Berlin, Vienna and New York. Naturally Agency V has been looking after press, which is also going pretty darn well for such a new label.

RH Label AW 2011 jumpsuit
R/H Label A/W 2011

Now they just need to figure out a way to grow the brand organically whilst retaining their creative control… it’s all about achieving that balance, which is why they came to Moscow for advice. In my next blog Hanna and Emilia answer a few questions. In the meantime take a browse around the R/H Label website and R/H Label online shop. Let’s hope they find stockists in the UK soon.

Emilia Hernesniemi RH Label
Emilia Hernesniemi of R/H Label talking to Michael Salac of Blow PR.

Categories ,A/W 2011, ,Acrobats, ,Agency V, ,Alvar Aalto, ,berlin, ,Black Magic, ,Blow PR, ,ceramic, ,colourful, ,Dolly Parton, ,Dragons, ,Emilia Hernesniemi, ,Estonia, ,Eyeball Necklace, ,Fawn Carr, ,finland, ,FInnish, ,Helsinki, ,IVANNAhelsinki, ,June Chanpoomidole, ,Laitinen, ,Laura Laine, ,Lisbeth Salander, ,Marimekko, ,Michael Salac, ,Michalis Christodoulou, ,Mickey Mouse, ,Mountains, ,Nordic Summer Sky, ,pr, ,prints, ,R/H Label, ,Reindeer Leather, ,Riiheläinen, ,S/S 2011, ,Silk, ,Sofi Oksanen, ,Stieg Larsson, ,Susanna Majuri, ,Tallinn, ,University of Art & Design Helsinki, ,Vagabonds, ,Vienna, ,Womenswear

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Amelia’s Magazine | London Fashion Week S/S 2012 Catwalk Review: Bora Aksu

Bora Aksu S/S 2012 by Gareth A Hopkins
Bora Aksu S/S 2012 by Gareth A Hopkins.

Nicola Roberts was once more amongst the attendees for The Unknown, online which promised an entire narrative within the collection. Ever the romantic, tadalafil Bora Aksu discovered four old postcards in a Geneva antiques market. Initially attracted to the beautiful Edwardian imagery, it was to be the words written on the back that would inspire him the most. Written by a young lady named Rose, the postcards disclosed her love for Charles… and left Bora wondering what happened to this great romance of over one hundred years ago. And thus he embarked on The Unknown.

Bora Aksu S/S 2012 by Karla Pérez (Geiko Louve)Bora Aksu S/S 2012 by Karla Pérez (Geiko Louve)
Bora Aksu S/S 2012 by Karla Pérez aka Geiko Louve.

Bora Aksu SS 2011 review-photo by Amelia Gregory
Bora Aksu SS 2011 review-photo by Amelia Gregory
Bora Aksu SS 2011 review-photo by Amelia Gregory
Bora Aksu SS 2011 review-photo by Amelia Gregory
Bora Aksu SS 2011 review-photo by Amelia Gregory
Bora Aksu SS 2011 review-photo by Amelia Gregory
Bora Aksu SS 2011 review-photo by Amelia Gregory
Bora Aksu S/S 2012 by Gareth A Hopkins
Bora Aksu S/S 2012 by Gareth A Hopkins.

Lighting low, the show began with a group of models who emerged en masse at the head of the runway, each dressed head to toe in shades of cream and beige with their heads wrapped in flowery garlands. Before them the catwalk (with no riser this season) was strewn with autumnal petals. Short puff skirts paired with crisp sleeveless blouses gave way to columns of tulle and net, all with signature Bora Aksu detailing. The demure colouring left me with the impression of an Edwardian schoolgirl who had been caught in her undies, but amongst this were some very wearable separates that should sell well in the real world.

Bora Aksu S/S 2012 by Megan Thomas
Bora Aksu S/S 2012 by Megan Thomas.

With a splash of sea blue roped detailing the collection moved onto sophisticated blacks and navy blues. Sweeping dresses with ribbon seam details emphasised womanly curves and curved necklines riffed on the current mania for all things pan collared. Sheer fabrics gave a glimpse of nipple, a common theme of this fashion week.

Bora Aksu SS 2011 review-photo by Amelia Gregory
Bora Aksu SS 2011 review-photo by Amelia Gregory
Bora Aksu SS 2011 review-photo by Amelia Gregory
Bora Aksu SS 2011 review-photo by Amelia Gregory
Bora Aksu SS 2011 review-photo by Amelia Gregory
Bora Aksu SS 2011 review-photo by Amelia Gregory
Bora Aksu SS 2011 review-photo by Amelia Gregory
Bora Aksu SS 2011 review-photo by Amelia Gregory
Bora Aksu S/S 2012 by June Chanpoomidole
Bora Aksu S/S 2012 by June Chanpoomidole.

I prefer my Bora with a bit more colour and structure, but this was an elegant collection that showed off Bora Aksu‘s love of all things Edwardian. It was also an excellent showcase for his new venture into the realm of hosiery. In the goodie bags were a pair of very special Bora Aksu branded tights, the rolling fishnet emulating the curved seams of his clothes: a perfect way to own a piece of Bora for a fraction of the cost of a whole outfit. Over the next few days I spotted many a pair of Bora clad legs on the front row, so it looks like he’s onto a winner.

Categories ,Antique, ,Beige, ,BFC, ,Bora Aksu, ,Charles, ,Cream, ,Edwardian, ,Gareth A Hopkins, ,Geiko Louve, ,Geneva, ,Hosiery, ,June Chanpoomidole, ,June Sees, ,Karla Perez, ,lfw, ,London Fashion Week, ,Megan Thomas, ,Nicola Roberts, ,Nipples, ,Pan Collars, ,postcards, ,Romantic, ,Rose, ,S/S 2012, ,Sheer, ,Somerset House, ,The Unknown, ,tights

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Amelia’s Magazine | London Fashion Week S/S 2012 Catwalk Review: Fashion Shenzhen Deng Hao

Fashion Shenzhen-Haiping Xie by Phoebe Kirk
Haiping Xie for Fashion Shenzhen by Phoebe Kirk.

There was a palpable sense of energy in the air as I walked into the hall and the lights dimmed for the first of two designers from Fashion Shenzhen. First up: Deng Hao. Special guests included the extravagant performance artist Pandemonia.

Pandemonia Shenzhen Exhibition by Natie Marie
Pandemonia by Natie Marie.

DengHao-Shenzhen Catwalk
DengHao-Shenzhen Catwalk
DengHao-Shenzhen Catwalk
FASHION SHENHEN_DENG HAO_GEMMATRAVIS
Deng Hao for Fashion Shenzhen by Gemma Travis.

The music was pumping, information pills the models’ hair slicked back into buns, malady the make-up gold and shimmery with smokey eyeliner. Deng Hao named this collection Flower Devil – GuRan Oriental Scarlet, inspired by Islamic mosques and Chinese temples.

DengHao-Shenzhen Catwalk
DengHao-Shenzhen Catwalk
DengHao-Shenzhen Catwalk
Fashion_Shenzen_DENG HAO by Caragh_Jackson
Deng Hao for Fashion Shenzhen by Caragh Jackson.

The collection featured the finest of woven materials and sheer knitwear, embroidered with gems and jewels in shapes of flowers or diamonds, on the collar, sleeves or sharp shoulders.

Sam_Parr_Shenzhen_Deng Hao_WEB
Deng Hao for Fashion Shenzhen by Sam Parr.

The influence of Islamic architecture was very subtle, with emblems, repeating patterns and borders of the kind that might be seen in holy places. Such symbols were woven and incorporated into the knitwear or onto sheer materials on panels and skirts.

DengHao-Shenzhen Catwalk
DengHao-Shenzhen Catwalk
Shenzhen Dress Deng Hao by Nicola Ellen
Deng Hao for Fashion Shenzhen by Nicola Ellen.

The bolero jackets, draped sleeves, flamenco style skirts and mermaid tails with multiple frills were European in influence and there were also skin tight dresses with halter necks or sleeveless, worn with leggings or harem pants to enhance the female silhouette. The pieces were incredibly feminine and flirty but still maintained elements of Chinese heritage; I particularly loved the colourful blend of royal reds and blues with hints of viridian green and maroon.

DengHao-Shenzhen Catwalk
DengHao-Shenzhen Catwalk
All photography by June Chanpoomidole.

Shenzhen Deng Hao by Nicola Ellen
Deng Hao for Fashion Shenzhen by Nicola Ellen.

Watch the full video of the Deng Hao catwalk show and see what you think. Next up, Haiping Xie.

Categories ,Bolero, ,Caragh Jackson, ,China, ,Chinese, ,Claire Kearns, ,Deng Hao, ,Fashion Shenzhen, ,Flamenco, ,florals, ,Gemma Travis, ,Grand Connaught Rooms, ,Haiping Xie, ,Harem, ,illustrators, ,Islamic, ,June Chanpoomidole, ,knitwear, ,Leggings, ,Natie Marie, ,Nicola Ellen, ,Pandemonia, ,Phoebe Kirk, ,Sam Parr, ,Shenzhen, ,Vauxhall Fashion Scout

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Amelia’s Magazine | London Fashion Week S/S 2012 Catwalk Review: Fashion Shenzhen Haiping Xie

Sam_Parr_Haiping Xie_Shenzhen Yellow
Haiping Xie for Fashion Shenzhen by Sam Parr.

Following the catwalk show from Deng Hao there was a brief interlude with a video from the Shenzhen Tourist Board and then I was delighted to see the collection of Haiping Xie in motion. An oriental version of La Vie en Rose played in the background as Xie’s models came out in metallic bronze make-up with their hair styled in blunt bowl cuts covered in printed bandanas.

Haiping Xie - Shenzhen Catwalk
Haiping Xie - Shenzhen Catwalk
Fashion_Shenzen_Haiping Xie_by Caragh_Jackson
Haiping Xie for Fashion Shenzhen by Caragh Jackson.

The atmospheric abstract prints were similar to the ones I had seen at the exhibition, buy information pills with an appealing grainy quality. They featured colourful iconography from Chinese mythology and butterflies that enticed us into an Oriental garden on a spring day. There were lots of textures in this collection; exaggerated tiers of ruffles on skirts, price sheer neon yellow underskirts, cheap feather-like shrugs, pure white and cyan tulle, taffeta and rosettes.

Haiping Xie - Shenzhen Catwalk
Haiping Xie - Shenzhen Catwalk
Fashion Shenzhen Haiping Xie by Claire Kearns
Haiping Xie for Fashion Shenzhe by Clarie Kearns.

Haiping Xie - Shenzhen Catwalk

Fashion-Shenzhen-by-Debbie-Ajia
Haiping Xie for Fashion Shenzhen by Debbie Ajia.

As with Deng Hao, traditional garments were juxtaposed with European style dress such as skater skirts, chain halter necks, swing dresses and an exaggerated Spanish flamenco style dress as the main finale. This was a bold, bright and bouncy show but I felt the Shenzhen heritage and mystique was slightly lost underneath the many prints and textures – I preferred the traditional dresses at the exhibition.

Haiping Xie - Shenzhen Catwalk
Haiping Xie - Shenzhen Catwalk
Haiping Xie - Shenzhen Catwalk
All photography by June Chanpoomidole.

Nevertheless it was very interesting to see how Deng Hao and Haiping Xie have created their own ways of uniting western and eastern cultures together.

Watch the full video of the catwalk show and see what you think. Don’t forget to check out my review of the Deng Hao show too.

Categories ,Awakening, ,Caragh Jackson, ,China, ,Chinese, ,Claire Kearns, ,Debbie Ajia, ,Deng Hao, ,Fashion Shenzhen, ,Gemma Travis, ,Haiping Xie, ,illustrators, ,June Chanpoomidole, ,La Vie en Rose, ,lfw, ,London Fashion Week, ,Natie Marie, ,Nicola Ellen, ,Pandemonia, ,Phoebe Kirk, ,Sam Parr, ,Shenzhen, ,Vauxhall Fashion Scout

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Amelia’s Magazine | London Fashion Week S/S 2012 Exhibition Review: Fashion Shenzhen

Haiping Xie- Shenzhen Exhibition by Claire Kearns
Haiping Xie at the Fashion Shenzhen Exhibition by Claire Kearns.

I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived at the Grand Connaught Rooms for the Fashion Shenzhen exhibition. When I did arrive, order I found it a far cry from Somerset House. The exhibition consisted of stalls from designers, manufacturing companies and brands from Shenzhen, fashion capital of China.

Shenzhen Exhibition
All Photography by June Chanpoomidole.

With the tweed squared pattern carpet and white banner metallic stalls, it looked and felt like a corporate event. Nevertheless, I found many examples of interesting Chinese design on display.

Omnialuo-Shenzhen Exhibition by Nicola Ellen
Omnialuo Silk Oriental Handbag by Nicola Ellen.

Omnialuo-Shenzhen Exhibtion by Fuad Ali
Omnialuo by Fuad Ali.

The style of Omnialuo is luxurious, romantic and noble, with a touch of elegance derived from 1940s Shanghai. Green and black silk loose skirts and tops are styled with brush calligraphy. Chinese style tops and an elegant black evening dress feature lotus flower motifs. This is what I dream of seeing in the UK High Street stores.

Nuit Blanche-Shenzhen-Exhibtion
Nuit Blanche-Shenzhen Exhibition by Natie Marie
Nuit Blanche by Natie Marie.

I loved the red felt dress by Nuit Blanche, a Swedish designer who is popular in both Sweden and China.

Awakening-Shenzhen Exhibition Pamplet
Actual Pamphlet given to me at the Exhibition.

I was given a pamphlet by Awakening, which was more like a loving plea to think about where the materials we wear come from, ‘to love Animals and love planet Home.’ The text was endearing without the use of horrific imagery or the need to ram the message home to the reader, which was very effective.

Awakening dress-Shenzhen Exhibition
Sam_Parr_Awakening Shenzhen Exhibition  LFW SS12
Awakening by Sam Parr.

So I had a look at their stall. Their clothing is made of ethically sourced and recycled materials, such as newspapers and polyester. To promote loving, eco friendly fashion, the brand aims to ‘awaken’ people’s consciousness to treasure all kinds of life and to maintain a healthy sustainable lifestyle.

Awakening-LFW Shenzhen Exhibition By Kassie Berry
Awakening by Kassie Berry.

I really loved the cuts and use of recyclable materials, especially the waterfall dress with prints of animals. The designs were made to prompt consideration for our planet Earth, with waterfalls engulfing swans and the cut of the fabric mimicking the shapes of rivers.

MyMo-Shenzhen-Exhibtion
MyMo dress-Shenzhen-Exhibtion
The name of the My Mo brand immediately caught my eye and the manager explained to me that the name is abbreviated from My Moment, as the collection and brand is based around the concept of an office girl, who can customise the look to suit work and play, to shine and have their ‘moment.’ It’s a simple but effective concept for the modern practical women.

MyMo-Shenzhen exhibition-by-Nicola-Rowlands
My Mo by Nicola Rowlands.

The collection had a light, delicate look with sheer, neutral and nude tones, which could easily be customised with a vest top or a tailored jacket. The grey dress with red and white lines and repeat diamond patterns reminded me of the kind of dress that is worn for tennis or running, but the cut and draping was more flattering around the bust and hips. Grey can be dreary during the summer, so a hint of red and white reveals some personality in the office.

HaipingXie-Shenzhen-Exhibtion
I have had such love for traditional Chinese dresses ever since watching Kar Wai Wong’s In the Mood for Love. The prints on Haiping Xie dresses were atmospheric, consisting of dragons’ emblems, lotuses, the moon goddess and even the Great Wall of China. The grainy quality of the prints reminded me of historic daytime Chinese Drama shows I used to see in Thailand. This was a colourful collection of dresses, with strong reds and yellows, which I would love in my wardrobe. I was very happy to see more of Haiping Xie on the catwalk later that day.

Ambassador-Shenzhen Exhibition
There was a surprise visit to the Fashion Shenzhen exhibition from ambassador of China Liu Xiaoming and his wife, Hu Pinghua, who looked incredibly elegant and could definitely give Samantha Cameron a run for her money.

Shenzhen Exhibition-Presentation
Despite the corporate environment I could see beyond it to the real purpose of exhibition. Shenzhen is a young city. Around 32 years ago, it used to be a small fishing village and has now been transformed into an advanced modern metropolis. Shenzhen was the first city in China to open itself up to the outside world, and has ever since been at the forefront of China’s economic reform. Exposed to Western fashion styles, Shenzhen has also absorbed influences and trends from across China. It is within Shenzhen that Chinese fashion has found its feet, so it’s no surprise that the city’s talent is now being shown off to the international community. Xiaoming described Fashion Shenzhen as nurturing both a ’traditional and creative culture,’ and this was definitely apparent in the designs that I saw around the exhibition.

The presentation by the Ambassador was incredibly dignified, after which he guided us to the adjoining building where Vauxhall Fashion Scout is held, ready to see the catwalk show….

Categories ,Awakening, ,China, ,China Liu Xiaoming, ,Chinese, ,Claire Kearns, ,Deng Hao, ,Eco fashion, ,Fashion Shenzhen, ,Fuad Ali, ,Grand Connaught Rooms, ,Haiping Xie, ,Hu Pinghua, ,illustrators, ,June Chanpoomidole, ,Kassie Berry, ,Liu Xiaoming, ,London Fashion Week, ,My Mo, ,Natie Marie, ,Nicola Ellen, ,Nuit Blanche, ,Omnialuo, ,Shenzhen, ,Vauxhall Fashion Scout

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