Frockery Talk

  • RaRa reopens

    October 8, 2011

    We have been to RaRa's grand re-opening in Dundee today and would like to congratulate Erin on her fabulous refurb of our favourite wee vintage emporium.

    RaRa vintage shop

    Not a lot of people know that this little shop used to be the constituency office of Shiona Baird, the former Green MSP for north east Scotland, and that chief frocker Alison used to work there as a parliamentary researcher. Following the 2007 election, Shiona and Alison refused to admit defeat and went on to celebrate their greenness in different ways, with Shiona returning to organic farming and chairing the Tayside Recyclers project, while Alison opened for business at the Frockery.

    Their old office stood empty for a while and was briefly home to a few fleeting enterprises until 2008 when Erin moved in and put her vintage stamp on the place, giving it a whole new lease of life.  Somehow it seemed appropriate that she should carry on the recycling ethos, and it has been a pleasure to witness the transformation of our old office from a pretty vacant space into a vibrant RaRa and the Pretty Vacant Showrooms.

    Here is how the interior looks now. Cool, eh?

    vintage clothes

    vintage clothes

    And here is Alison helping Erin behind the retro cocktail bar counter (which Johnny Frocker managed to miss out of the pic - you can't get the staff these days). This space used to be our meeting room, complete with sunflower wallpaper (that did Alison's head in) and pea green paint (we kid you not).

    Erin and Alison at RaRa vintage

    So what are you waiting for? Get on your retro green scooter ....

    vintage scooter

    ... and get on down to

    RaRa vintage shop

  • It's nice to be niche

    September 23, 2011

    Just like It's hip to be square, it's nice to be niche; in other words, it's cool to do your own thing, regardless of what the fashion police might seek to impose on the hapless shopping sheeple. As far as we're concerned, embracing individuality is every bit as important to businesses as it is to individuals and, while many high street retailers are undoubtedly suffering the effects of the economic downturn, there is evidence to suggest that niche independents may be bucking the trend.

    A Business Zone article which dropped into our inbox earlier today, headlined Why now is a great time to start a retail business, suggests that this feeling is not misplaced and that independent traders are well placed to take advantage of a perceptible shift in shoppers' expectations. It seems that the cold and clinical, predictable, big store 'factory' retail model is gradually giving way to the more personalised customer experience offered by niche retail outlets, which provide both excellent customer service and individualised products and services. So small may yet become beautiful again, as it was in the 60s and 70s.

    Growing up in the small Angus town of Montrose in the 70s, chief frocker Alison used to buy her clothes in the several small fashion boutiques that were dotted in and around the high street. She vividly remembers buying an emerald green batwing sleeved smock dress (which, with the benefit of hindsight, was truly hideous) in one such boutique. In another, she purchased a very distinctive (but a lot less hideous) black velvet two piece adorned with red stars, which she wore to her 18th birthday party with red shoes (on which she subsequently threw up after too many double vodka and pineapple combos). Her excuse is that Ziggy Stardust was big at the time!

    The Boutique Elvira, which eventually metamorphosed into the Headline hair salon (currently run by a vintage hairdresser who cuts Alison's hair and still has a collection of 70s splash patches in his attic) was a particular favourite, stocking some amazing pieces of funky frockery. This poem, Tie-Dyed T-Shirt, by Fiona Ritchie Walker (an old school friend of Alison's), evokes distant memories of Elvira's and other old familar places.

    Occasionally, small town and country dwellers would make a special trip to Aberdeen, Dundee, or even Edinburgh, to sample the delights of  big city shopping. Back then, there was still a strong independent retail presence, from smaller boutiques to big department stores like Dundee's Draffens (long since gone) and Edinburgh's Jenners. Retro Dundee has a wonderful collection of images which capture the essence of the city in past decades, including this picture of  City Square and High Street in 1970, and provides an enjoyable nostalgia trip for locals of a certain age.

    dundee city square and high street 1970

    Although The Frockery has no immediate plans to make a move to bricks and mortar from its exclusively online presence (with the odd vintage fair thrown in throughout the year) we are always more than happy to recommend independent vintage retailers who have 'visitable' shops.

    Talking of bricks and mortar, one of our favourites  - RaRa and the Pretty Vacant Showrooms, based in Exchange Street, Dundee  - is undergoing a major refurbishment right now, but we are hoping to go along and help celebrate its re-opening in the near future. It stocks an ecelectic range of fabulous clothes, accessories and curiosities from bygone eras and is run by the lovely Erin, who is as passionate about vintage as she is about showcasing emerging new designers.

    Another small vintage boutique we like is in Forfar, just round the corner from The Frockery. GladRags is run by a very knowledgeable and friendly female duo and stocks some fabulous pieces, both vintage and contemporary. We were musing the other week that Forfar is fast becoming a vintage lovers' paradise as no less than three small antique and collectables shops have sprung up in the past year to complement an already enviable range of independent retailers. The regular Farmers Market also features gourmet epicurean and gift products, from Cairn o Mhor (say it out loud!) fruit wines to farmyard inspired ceramics from our friends at Eeksy Peeksy. How cool is this cake stand!

    cake stand eeksy peeksy

    In our experience, independent retailers not only want to go that extra mile for customers but also want to support each other in business. You could say "we are all in this together", but in a nice niche way!

  • Red shoes, ruby slippers

    September 23, 2011

    ruby slippersImage credit: Hollywood Reporter

    A pair of ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland, who played Dorothy in the 1939 film Wizard of Oz, is to be sold at auction in December.  Described as “one of the greatest pieces of pop culture in existence” - and who doesn’t remember Judy clicking these heels together to get back to Kansas? - they have a pre-auction estimate of between $2 and $3 million.

    Fortunately, vintage footwear from the Frockery comes at a much more affordable price! And despite, or perhaps even because of, the age old “red shoes, no knickers” adage, which apparently connotes a degree of raciness or flashiness on the part of their wearer, we just adore red shoes.

    These 70s vintage strappy red shoes have eminently clickable heels!

    70s vintage red strappy shoes

    While these 80s lipstick red leather court shoes from Bally are sure to turn heads in the Railway Arms.

    80s bally red shoes

    This cute pair of 70s vintage red slingbacks have just arrived and will shortly be listed in the catalogue.

    70s vintage red shoes

    To get back to the Frockery shoe department, just click these heels!

  • Slow fashion: winning the race for hearts and minds?

    September 16, 2011

    Twitter, we have found, is not only a wonderful way of interacting with customers, but is also a great medium for connecting like minds, who will frequently signpost followers and friends to articles and websites of mutual interest.

    As our regular readers will know, one of our passions is for 'slow fashion' and so it was natural that we should follow Slow Fashioned on Twitter. Being sometimes lazy frockers, we are grateful to other tweeters for highlighting relevant links and, thanks to @slowfashioned, two media articles caught our eye yesterday. Both are well worth reading if you are a fellow proponent of slow, sustainable fashion.

    The Guardian focused on the growing inflationary pressures on fast fashion, as identified by the ONS, under the headline Rising cost of clothes could signal end to 'cheap chic'.

    The days of "cheap chic" and throwaway fashion could be numbered, because the cost of clothes is rising at its fastest rate for nearly 15 years.

    The "fast fashion" trend, where T-shirts sell for £2 and jeans are priced at less than a fiver in supermarkets, is being battered by big increases in the cost of cotton, labour and transport.

    Some especially scary statistics cited in the article came from research at Cambridge University which found that:

    " clothing prices have come down, the number of garments bought has soared fourfold. The study found that the average British woman buys half her body weight – 28kg (62lb) – in clothing every year".

    Eek! It's surely time to hit the production and consumption brakes before we have no more land to fill with textile waste comprised mainly of throwaway fashion  (one million tonnes a year and rising).

    Another short but incisive article on the Atlantic website, Slow Fashion: Reconnecting Production and Consumption, also had us nodding our heads in agreement as it pointed to the unhealthy disconnection between production and consumption, mourned the loss of community and deplored the replacement of tradition with profit. It gave much food for thought about the undesirability, and ultimate unsustainability, of the fashion for 'fast' everything.

    Awareness of the environmental impact of human activities is growing. For food, it means buying more organic, local, and seasonal products. For fashion, it should mean more organic, local, and less seasonal. A piece of clothing should last for decades. Like a recipe passed down from generation to generation, we should pass our clothes down to our grandchildren.

    Amen to such sentiment! As the slow fashion movement gathers pace, thanks to a combination of consumer awakening and economic constraints, the growing prevalence of articles like these demonstrates that the times may well be a-changing for the better (and slower).

    And it's always reassuring to know we are but one voice among many for whom slow is every bit as beautiful as small. We've said it before and we may as well say it, and link to it, again: Landfill fashion: what a waste.

  • Skins for the skint

    September 3, 2011

    The Frockers are well known for their love of leather, so we were naturally delighted to see it emerge (yet again!) as one of the key looks for the season. Full-on or more subtle accents in leather, faux leather or suede are de rigueur, whether you want to achieve biker chic, rock chick, elegant sophisticate or anything in between.

    Perusing some of the offerings from eye-watering high end to more reasonable high street, we were struck by how many similar pieces were already firm fixtures in our own wardrobe and how many examples we have in our catalogue at prices that will neither make your eyes water nor your credit card melt. Skins for the skint, you might say!

    Take Balenciaga's wool and faux leather pencil skirt, for example (if you can afford the £445, that is), and compare it with our Llinares black pencil skirt with embellished leather cummerbund pictured below (a mere snip at £16). For the mathematically inclined, that makes it more than 96% cheaper.

    black pencil skirt with leather cummerbund

    black pencil skirt with leather cummerbund Moving to the high street, compare this beige leather skirt from River Island (£54.99) with our equivalent soft cream leather skirt  pictured below at only £18! It's a veritable no brainer for 'careful' Scots like us! cream leather skirt We honestly have lots of leather and suede in stock, far more than is currently featured in our online catalogue, so please let us know if you are looking for a particular style and we'll try to help. We even have a suede cowgirl outfit lurking somewhere!

    Meanwhile, may we point you towards these tight reptile leathertrousers which are just the ticket for skinnier skin lovers?

    reptile leather trousers

    And last but not least, that hardy perennial, the vintage black leather biker jacket.

    black leather biker jacket

    We just love leather!

  • Something for the weekend?

    August 28, 2011

    Something for the upcoming Goodwood Revival weekend? Here's one for the boys.

    3 piece vintage tweed suit

    Men's vintage three piece tweed suit

    Why not check out our Get the Look: Goodwood Revival section for some fitting frockery?