VAG Lowdown

VAG Lowdown


I'm Stockholm-ing at the moment but I had to finish up all the VAG talk (I know some of us who have a juvenile streak will continually read that as something else other than an acronym…it s'ok…).  I haven't read too many reviews though the general consensus I got from Twitter seems to be a positive one.  I didn't go down for the weekend so I am judging it by the limited day I was down there for – trying to see everything, speak to people and get a 'feel' for it.  I can't speak for the music side of things either given to me, the line-up wasn't very interesting and whilst billed with 'music' as part of it, I think VAG was sold more on atmosphere and components rather than it being a 'serious' mus fest… how else do you explain why The Feeling were there…

One of the questions that floated around beforehand was whether it was possible to organise a proper vintage festival that covers five decades – 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s – to please the everyman as well as the vintage enthusiast.  I got the feeling that perhaps the latter's wishlist for a festival might not have been satisfied but then I would say a vintage everyman festival isn't such a bad thing to get sniffy about. 

The definition of 'vintage' seems to be hard to pin down these days and is thrown around probably in more contexts than it needs to be.  That said, I believe there are people who practise a rather rigourous and strict version of 'vintage' where lifestyle and dress from certain periods go hand in hand and so you have people who retrogaze in groups, cliques and clubs.  50s rockabilly parties, 40s tea dances, 20s flapper parties… the springing up of these sort of events seem to have given rise to the sort of hardcore vintage enthusiasts that, quite rightly, a reader on the previous post compared to the likes of Japanese cosplay.  This is of course no bad thing even if it isn't something I favour for myself.  But then a weird sort of snobbery starts creeping into it all though which perhaps for me takes the fun out of 'vintage'.  Attitudes such as "Oh THAT isn't vintage!" or feeling like they have one up on you because they're head to toe in vintage and you happen to have slipped in a little something from Topshop.  Or you're not wearing a 50s dress in the way that it should be worn.  A vintage lifestyle hardcorist already sowed the seeds of doubt into VAG because in essence, it wasn't a festival that would suit their specific needs. 

Criticisms of VAG such as "Oh it's not authentic…" or "It's not in the spirit of TRUE vintage" have me baffled as to their own definitions of these words.  It isn't a small, boutique, specific festival attuned to a certain decade so in reality, it was inevitable that you had the aforementioned hardcorists coming to odds with such a large-scale festival.  Yes, there was a cheese factor.  Yes, there were plenty of gimmicks.  Yes, there were flaws in the grade of vintage being sold on site.  But it got people to at least be enthusiastic about the whole affair.  They may have been playing dress up for the day but perhaps they might dabble a bit more in vintage buying in the future?  What is wrong with a general festival that caters to the vintage dabblers, non-vintage coverts (and there were a few of those too…) and people who wanted a fun day out that weren't perhaps 100% knowledgeable about Dior New Look-style dresses, nylon stockings and go-go dresses.   

I suppose this relates to how I feel about vintage myself… I love sourcing pieces that stand out on their own, as a piece, not because they have been propped up by a certain decade but because the design has merit to it.  Is that 'authentic'?  Is that the spirit of TRUE vintage?  I'm not sure but I'm a consumer of vintage of sorts and if non-converts came along to the festival only to fall in love with a few pieces, I see no reason to begrudge them for playing 'dress-up' for the day or for not being vintage purists.      



Still, I wouldn't say VAG was without its faults.  I don't mind the elaborate sets that felt like you were walking in a theme park as I had no pretenses about it being anything other than a money spinner… I don't even begrudge the organisers for wanting to go big on its first 'proper' debut (they had a trial festival last year I believe?).


So good old John Lewis popped up with all its reliable homewares and haberdashery gussied up with a slightly twee style… no problemo with a jazzed up haberdashery at all on the festival 'high street'…




The context is further honed in with these Celia Birtwell for John Lewis designs…


Dr Martens were there to do some customisation with a guy doing some intensely detailed engraving on matte leather docs… again no problemo…




70s style curry house?  Again, kitschy goodness even if was probably a rip-off curry… but then again, wouldn't that be authentic in a weird/odd way?


Alright, Oxfam, remade to their 1948 shop fit… with sadly 2010 prices that were hiked to the hills…¬£55 for a jacket I tells ya… still their presence on the 'high street' makes some semblance of sense…



The fashion workshop was pretty popular with people sitting down to machines and getting their heads down with knitting and crochet…




Cath Kidston…again… fit for a vaguely vintage-themed high street that the masses would identify with…


Kenwood food demonstration van… hmmm… you start asking why?  As with the Veuve Clicquot champagne lounge, the ICW watch house…


Then a 'photo studio' sponsored by Primark… *thud*  Simply asking "Why?" doesn't quite suffice…I liked the idea of incorporating sponsors in creative ways but having Primark there was just a big anomaly for me…



Then to the side strips of stalls where vintage, crafters and other indie joints were asked to participate… now, there''s also been some talk of some shady dealings with regards to the organisers charging exorbitant amounts for people to pitch up and sell.  Amelia's Magazine has a few tales to tell.  If I took it all at face value, then I do think the organisers have missed a trick by being 'elitist' with their charges especially since those that sell a 'mass' amount of vintage may not necessarily be selling amazing wares.  Some people who I've seen at the Battersea vintage fairs for instance weren't present with their perhaps more 'niche' vintage pieces.  I therefore apologise if I don't have a huge amount of photos of clothes… if I'm honest, I a) wasn't on the hunt for pieces considering I'm clearing out my wardrobe and b) a lot of it wasn't making me gawp in awe either. 

I did however love that Reem Alasadi was selling her reclaimed/remade vintage pieces…




I found the bric-a-brac/antiques/junk stalls a bit more interesting…nearly took home this book about the history of the snuff shop but instead bought some frames and a beautiful book of photos…



A familiar face was to be found at Supermarket Sarah's mini-stall…


Denim jacket by Sovereign Realm from Junk Shop in Manchester…


A bit of the 90s crept in with these Kangol loafers that people had at school…


The aspects I found more interesting, outside of the shopping were the talks that were being held… not nearly as oversubscribed or popular as the music/fashion catwalk events…



The family aspect was also quite rooted into the festival with fairgrounds, fake beaches and a Butlins tent…


I liked the bits on the outskirts of the festival such as mini campaigns for the The Twentieth Century Society who I really support with its endeavours to save heritage buildings…


Or the fun-themed tribute to Leigh Bowery or the dress-up photo booths…


I didn't get to check out the glamping side of things but those with show stopping caravans definitely looked at home…


Like I said in the post before, it was a broad audience and it seemed to me that there seems nothing wrong with using vintage as a platform for an everyman-pleasing festival though there's food for thought in all aspects of the festival that could make it heaps better.  If a niches need to be catered for with something more low-key, less showy and more specific, then VAG couldn't possibly fulfill it.  I suppose I had no pretenses about what VAG would be like given the scale that the website seemed to indicate the whole time but I suppose there are those that will forever grapple with vintage and everything attached to it as a lifestyle (in clothes and in 'spirit') as a sacred ground that shouldn't perhaps be tampered with.  Sadly with my new threads, inauthentic me is not one of them…




Leave a comment
  1. Melissa

    2010-08-17 at 2:30 AM

    wow…i kind of want to go. i do see what you mean about there being some faults.
    p.s. ever since you started talking about those 80%20 a/w 2010 boots…i can’t wait to get my hands on a couple pairs of those! eeee!
    check out the fab dress i just got!

  2. Melissa

    2010-08-17 at 2:31 AM

    and oh my gosh oh my gosh i was the first comment! haha thats never happened before!

  3. Emily and Abigail

    2010-08-17 at 3:14 AM

    so many great photos!! lusting this post.. looks like so much fun!

  4. Esti

    2010-08-17 at 3:40 AM

    The ‘hardcorists’ crabbing about issues of authenticity reminds me of the episode of Daria “Life in the Past Lane” where Jane dates a guy with a zoot suit who gets upset when she rumples his pompadour while they kiss. Nothing should ever be taken too seriously.
    That said, it looks like a fun weekend. Probably more fun for being so eclectic.

  5. Alyssa

    2010-08-17 at 4:28 AM

    I have feeling I would be sorely disappointed by this kind of thing. Those 90’s shoes are going to be in the back of mind for a while I’m sure…

  6. Tarina Heart

    2010-08-17 at 5:53 AM

    Man I would love to go to a vintage festival!

  7. Style Eyes Fashion Blog

    2010-08-17 at 6:34 AM

    I agree with you on vintage. I like to wear it my own way without stressing about getting a look historically correct. That said Vintage at Goodwood has inspired me to have a go at the whole forties or fifties look perhaps next year. I did feel people were a little snobby about what everyone was wearing at first, but as the day wore on I really enjoyed myself. Perhaps that was the cocktails though!

  8. amaturecouture

    2010-08-17 at 7:37 AM

    this looks awesomeee!! i love those knitted pieces especially the really colorful one that looks like its just been thrown on the white mannequin! love it!

  9. Val

    2010-08-17 at 8:42 AM

    Seems like a lot of fun !
    -diary of a fashion stylist-

  10. Grace

    2010-08-17 at 9:45 AM

    Great to see an honest review, seems like it would be a fun day if you didn’t take it too seriously and enjoyed it for what it was x

  11. Deedeeoho

    2010-08-17 at 10:25 AM

    This looks like amazing fun!

  12. Penny Dreadful Vintage

    2010-08-17 at 11:16 AM

    I didn’t go, but this is a good balanced review. I love vintage but really hate the kind of vintage elititsm and snobbery that abounds these days. I don’t think ‘true vintage’ (wtf?) is about being rigidly authentic. I mean, do these (predominantly) women also do all the housework, stay at home all day, and mix their husband a martini when he gets home? I don’t have any problem with people who hired stupid flapper outfits for the day – who cares if they aren’t that into vintage usually and just wanted a fun time.
    And I agree that sponsorship and commercial backing is not inherently wrong, as long as it is appropriate… which Primark is not. In context, John Lewis sewing supplies makes perfect sense. It would be nice if they made it easier (ie cheaper) for ‘proper’ vintage dealers to be involved, so that it was an eclectic mix of commercial and
    vintage. They also seem to have alienated a lot of bloggers out there which frankly was a schoolboy error.
    Rambling rant over, thanks for the honest review!

  13. shareitwearit

    2010-08-17 at 11:21 AM

    I love your honesty and totally agree with your point that this is “vintage” for everyone and should be taken that way I missed out but would def give it a go at some point just for the fun of it!

  14. Carla

    2010-08-17 at 2:48 PM

    I have been reading your blogs for years and have to say there hasn’t been one post on here I haven’t liked. I agree with you on being against the whole “snobbery” of vintage, I am more of a mixer and matcher myself.

  15. moncler

    2010-08-18 at 8:32 AM

    they bring me to the old time by evrything did you show , look this as good experiens.

  16. Tessa

    2010-08-18 at 4:53 PM

    I thought it was great. As in, it was a mainstream festival but with plenty to do if your hobbies and interests extend beyond “rolling around in mud on ketamine” (although there’s a time and a place, etc).
    I don’t really see how you could do any sort of business plan for a festival that would only appeal to the more “Rain Man” elements of the vintage crowd, or why you’d want to. You have to attract the dilletantes and people who like vintage but aren’t slaves to one historical period. Also I thought it was a lot more fun for being quite low on humourless mods and the like.
    I found the sponsorship to be generally really nicely done – a bit creative, a bit tasteful – and it was pretty obvious that they had to have it in order to fund the lavishness. I mean, there wasn’t a “1970s tent” like you might have expected: there was a damn good replica of Wigan frickin Casino, with working men’s club carpets and a sprung wooden dancefloor. Someone had to pay for that. And the whole place was so clean – no litter or anything. It’s a shame that Primark had to be one of the sponsors but I can accept that it was a necessary evil.
    There were some real gems on the music bill but they were weirdly under publicised… for some reason they kept a bit quiet and put Mick Hucknall at the top of the bill. That was the main WTF moment in what was otherwise a really cracking weekend.

  17. Becca

    2010-08-21 at 7:07 PM

    This looks like a seriously amazing time – wow!

  18. Ruthie McCall

    2010-08-22 at 5:56 PM

    The most balanced, reasonable and realistic blogger review of VAG I’ve read!

  19. Honey

    2010-08-22 at 7:14 PM

    Your blogg is hot! like dr Marten! hih 😉

  20. lilltle

    2010-08-23 at 12:46 AM

    Common’ Sussy, you definitely need a NEW CAMERA babe. You have such a interesting blog and commentary but the pictures do not make up to the blog. You have so much of an adventurous life that I wish it would be better pixelated.

  21. Olive

    2010-08-26 at 3:43 AM

    lovely pics!oh i wish i was there 🙂

  22. charanjeet

    2010-09-03 at 10:09 AM

    Nice views!! these photographs are really the work of a genius.


    2010-09-06 at 8:01 PM

    those specials boots…wickedddddddd!

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