Frockery Talk

  • Portobello pays the price of ‘progress’

    April 13, 2015

     portobello road market

     A lot of water has passed under the Westway  since we last wrote about the  redevelopment threat to  Portobello Market and its near neighbours in our post, Portobello Road Market - help save a national treasure. In the meantime, we have been keeping an eye on ‘developments’ and it looks like things have taken a turn for the worse with the latest planning submissions, which, if passed, would undoubtedly destroy the character of this much loved part of London.

    We have just signed this petition calling for a halt to the building of the “foul aberration” that is being planned for Portobello. According to the Westway Trust, its proposed 'Portobello Village' represents the perfect opportunity to develop 50,000 square feet of “underutilised land, both under and alongside the Westway” - but at what cost to local livelihoods, social diversity and cultural heritage?

    As one petitioner put it: “This developer led cleansing of London has to stop, it's killing neighbourhoods and making it impossible to actually live 'local'. An area can't survive solely on boutique coffee stores and premium gyms.”

    On our most recent visit to Portobello, it may have been raining cats and dogs, but the spirit and enthusiasm of the traders was far from dampened by the inclement weather. They are at the very heart of the local community and should not be forced from their pitches as calculated collateral damage in a move designed to squeeze maximum profit from every “underutilised” square foot of W.11.

    And it’s not just the market that’s at risk of airbrushing out of the picture. We have also signed this petition urging the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea to retain the Maxilla Children’s Centre and Nursery School at the heart of the local community, rather than permanently relocating it to the obvious detriment of its local service users.

    Look what happened to The Inn on the Green, which closed its doors four years ago, having been being deemed a "failed experiment" by the Westway Development Trust, despite being a much loved community venue which prioritised  local people over  profits. Back in the day, such facilities were supported by the local authority as their social value was rightly recognised, but there was never much hope of a lifeline for a prime location that was ripe for far more profitable redevelopment.

    We may not live in the area any more, having left in the mid 80s with a bucket load of happy memories, but Portobello Road still touches our soul, and we are 100% behind community members in this latest battle to preserve their proud heritage and save this priceless piece of London from death by a thousand coffee shops and characterless shopping malls.

    Now that the area has found favour with celebrity sorts and property developers, there is no longer room for any perceived blot on the luvvies' landscape, and little or no regard is paid to the views and values of local people, who are simply seen as obstacles to profit, to be cynically and systematically sidelined. We've seen it all before in other parts of London, and the capital itself is rapidly becoming a no-live zone for "hard working families" due to increasingly unaffordable housing costs. The architects of these relentless clearance projects would perhaps do well to remember that there may soon be no one left to serve their coffees or cleanse their streets.

    On a positive note, the underdogs of W.11 are biting back and garnering significant support for their campaign to stop the steamrollers and preserve the unique character of Portobello. Please consider supporting their petitions, follow their community campaign on Facebook  and check out these links for further information:

    ‘Don’t suck the lifeblood out of Portobello’: Thousands sign petition against plan to redevelop vintage clothing market (Evening Standard, 10/04/15)

    Save us from the developers’ vision of an antiseptic London  (The Guardian, 06/04/14)

    The slow death of Portobello  (International Times, 02/04/15)

    London’s Portobello Road faces redevelopment with Westfield-style shops (Metro, 12/03/15)


  • Horses for courses: hats, heels and stable staples

    April 10, 2015

    here comes summer

    K Frocker enjoying the sunshine

    The sun has made a welcome re-appearance in these parts, which has not only helped brighten everyone's mood but has also encouraged us all to look out the summer frockery that has been patiently awaiting the arrival of warmer weather at the back of our wardrobes - or, in the case of our more organised sisters, in carefully packed storage boxes labelled 'summer clothes'  (that's so not us!)

    Having just received a reminder about the upcoming Perth Races, we thought we'd put together a look for Ladies Day on 14th May, which raises money for Breakthrough Breast Cancer. It promises to be a fabulous event with live music, entertainment and first class hospitality to complement the afternoon's racing. It is also the perfect excuse to glam up in posh frocks, hats and heels, not least of all because there are prizes for the Best Dressed Lady, Best Dressed Male and Best Hat.

    perth races ladies day

    Enjoying Ladies Day (Image credit: Perth Races)

    Of course you don't need to spend a fortune to achieve the wow factor (and possibly carry off the top £1000 prize!)  Our featured race outfit combination comprises an elegant pink peplum bow front dress by Dorothy Perkins (a snip at just £20), accessorised with an ivory brimmed hat with faux flower trim (from our own collection, but this Peter Bettley beauty would also turn heads!) and an Episode ivory crochet fringed stole.

    day at the races ladies day outfit

    day at the races outfit

    We absolutely love these Capollini ivory ribbon tie high heeled ivory sandals and the faux ostrich handbag is just the right size to to hold the requisite paraphernalia (and winnings!) on your day at the races. Don't forget the pearls and sunnies!

    day at the races outfit

    day at the races outfit

    You'll find more ideas in our Day at the Races section!

    Talking of horses, two of the frockers are going riding next month for the first time in years (decades, actually) and will need to don some suitable stable staples so that we look the part when we get on (and hopefully don't fall off) our cuddies!  We'll post pics as evidence at a later date, but here's one possible outfit from our catalogue that might fit the occasion without breaking the bank.

    snowgoose padded jacket

    Snowgoose padded jacket

    moschino indigo jeans

    Moschino indigo denim jeans

    red guernsey sleeveless cardigan

    Red Guernsey sleeveless cardigan

    faded blue denim shirt

    Faded blue denim shirt

    black leather riding boots

    Black leather riding style boots

    equine tooled leather belt

    Equine tooled leather belt

    You can also check out our Country Life section for more ideas!

    And finally, our Grand National favourite this year (for no particular reason) is:  Night in Milan.

  • Frockery Eco-Fashion Challenge 2015: winners announced!

    March 9, 2015

    vintage fair

    "Why buy new?"

    Our fifth #frockerychallenge has ended and our judges have had the most unenviable task of trying to pick the prize winners from a record breaking number, and amazingly eco-stylish, array of entries.

    Chief judge Janice Stewart,  owner of Tweed’ll Dee By Notions of Brechin and a previous challenge winner; the absolutely fabulous Patsy A, a former model who graced magazine covers in the 60s and 70s; and, last but not least, our very own Kirstin Frocker, all admitted to tearing their hair out over the final decision, which we are now delighted to announce.

    Cue drum roll....

    This year's winning slot is a 'first equal' as the judges couldn't separate Breagha Cuinn and Onnagh Cuinn, who they all felt brought a sense of fun and quirkiness to the competition, as well as demonstrating some strongly  'street chic' eco-stylish credentials. They can put their heads together to choose frockery to the value of £100 from our catalogue (and we'll expect photographic evidence!)

    Here's a small selection of their head turning outfits posted throughout the month.

    breagha 2

    Breagha: Second hand vintage sequin top, handmade furry skirt, charity shop tights 50p and handmade bow


    Onnagh: Swallow dress from charity shop


    Breagha: Charity shop dress £6, second hand pin striped blazer, charity shop tie, second hand tights

    onnagh 3

    Onnagh: Brocade top £5 from a charity shop. Pin striped mini skirt £4 from a charity shop 


    Breagha: Chartiy shop sequin dress; second hand faux fur mini cape and glasses; hand made pom pom head band and vintage cat pad lock choker 

    Our runner-up, who is invited to choose frockery to the value of £50 from our catalogue, is Douglas Johnston, a superbly stylish young man who wowed us all with some dramatic costumes, including hand made Jedi robes! There was no going back once he had been entered by A.N. Other (possibly his mum?) in this dashing ensemble.

    douglas 2

    Zara suit from a St Andrews charity shop, around a tenner; vintage silk scarf his mum would have paid £1 for in a charity shop at some point

    Here, Douglas cleverly combined third generation vintage with second hand to create a unique look with a proudly Scottish flavour and 'attitude'.

    douglas kilt

    Kilt 3rd generation handed down through family; boots, waistcoat, shirt, bowtie- all second hand; velvet jacket - charity shop £1.99 

    Congratulations to our winners and please contact us to claim your prizes.

    The fact that we had so many entries this year, all of such an exceptional standard, made it harder than ever for our judging panel. A big thank you goes to Janice, Patsy and Kirstin, as well as to all those who entered into the spirit of the challenge by posting their fabulous outfits and fostering a real sense of camaraderie among group members. [Note to Pat Jones: we're still waiting for that onesie pic!] 

    Looking at the stylish combinations of vintage, preloved and hand made clothes and accessories on display, it's clear that second hand is most definitely not second best, and we salute every one of our entrants for flying the eco-fashion flag and celebrating slow fashion with such passion. As Anne commented during the challenge, "I love the feeling of anticipation you get as you walk into a charity shop", a sentiment with which we can all identify, and some of our flea market finds and 'car booty captures' have been truly awesome. Let's keep spreading the message: "Why buy new when it's more fashionable, frugal and eco-friendly to go retro?"

    See you all next February, we hope, for  a full 29 days of leap year eco-frocking! Meanwhile, please stay tuned to our Facebook group for exclusive offers, giveaways and other one-off events that we hope to run during the year.


  • Beatroot & Lace goes to GoMA

    March 6, 2015

    Readers may remember we posted last September about a new Glasgow-based vintage (ad)venture in the form of the Beatroot & Lace Bazaar, described by its founders as "The Vintage Fair With Creative Flair".

    Well, we are pleased to report that the concept has been a great success; so much so that founders Marco and Jennie are about to introduce a pop up Big Bonanza Bazaar to the main hall of the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), the epicentre of Glasgow’s creative scene and the backdrop for that famous Duke of Wellington statue!

    goma wellington statue

    Image credit: Evening Times

    Starting next Saturday 14th March, from 11am to 5.30pm, with more "magical" venues to be announced, the new Beatroot & Lace events will showcase the wares of no less than 75 vintage sellers and designer/makers, all local to Glasgow and the surrounding areas, accompanied by lots of art and live music. Sounds to us frockers like the perfect recipe for vintage inspired success!

    Marco and Jennie dropped us a line to tell us all about the latest B&L developments:

    "We started in September at The Art School which was to be a monthly event.  We had amazing interest from the start with long waiting lists for traders and it grew and grew.  We have had feedback that the the Bazaar is very laid back and has a great atmosphere.  We encourage collaboration with artists and musicians as well as designer makers - this added a little something to the vintage fair concept that had already been running in Glasgow for a while, and people liked it!

    "The Bazaar takes pride in promoting small local business and talent and it is FREE entry to all! There will be an honesty box for those who want to see the Bazaar get better and better by paying what they think the experience is worth - it is not encouraged at all, however, and everyone is welcome with open arms!"

    GoMA fair

    Taking place on the eve of Mother's Day, the super sized GoMA bazaar will provide the perfect opportunity to find a unique gift for mum, as well as soak up the creative atmosphere with lots of art and music to enjoy throughout the day. It promises to be a simultaneous celebration of the past and the future in what its founders describe as "an environment that nurtures talent, encourages creativity and embraces entrepreneurialism".

    We would like to wish Marco and Jennie good luck for GoMA and every success in growing their Beatroot & Lace brand. We'll look forward to the next update from this dynamic duo.

  • The Dingwall 19 (and the Elgin Marvels)

    March 6, 2015

    The chief frocker has been travelling around the country more than usual over the past month with a trip to London to meet up with friends and family, as well as several jaunts to Edinburgh and Glasgow, so it was a nice change to head for the Highlands this week where she had been invited to speak at an event in Dingwall town hall (on a subject quite far removed from fashion, vintage or otherwise).

    dingwall station

    Having never previously visited the town, it was a pleasant surprise to find some interesting independent shops, a couple of charity shops (which no self respecting frocker will ever walk past unless closed!) and probably one of the few remaining Wimpy bars in the UK, whose fare was sampled by two of the conference party for purely nostalgic reasons (and the fact that the Indian restaurant had burned down).

    The town hall itself took a bit of locating, but with assistance from some friendly locals, we finally found it tucked down a side street behind the museum. It was a surprise to find this plaque on the building commemorating the Beatles' visit there in January 1963, shortly before they achieved super stardom, and the caretaker volunteered lots of interesting facts about the night the Fab Four played to an audience of only 19 locals.

    beatles plaque

    dingwall town hall

    Now the chief frocker has a friend who is an ardent Fab Four fan and whose knowlege of everything Beatles related is legendary; and sure enough, he knew all about the Dingwall gig, commenting: "They played Elgin the night before. I visited the location. There should be a plaque wherever they breathed."  Yeah yeah yeah, he is obsessed!

    Look what else he sent us!

    beatles elgin gig

    He also shared a link to BBC news coverage of a tribute evening planned for Dingwall in 2011, and a follow up article featuring local businessman Billy Shanks's efforts to trace the original gig goers. It was reported that 24 had come forward, the five 'extras' apparently being staff members who hadn't had to pay to attend.

    He [Mr Shanks] said some who turned up thought the music was rubbish and left to join an audience of 1,200 watching a local band (The Melotones) in nearby Strathpeffer. He said there were also people who paid for a ticket but later walked out and got a refund.

    In the weeks following the Dingwall gig, The Beatles went on to have their first top 10 hit with Please Please Me. Within a year they were the most popular band in the world.

    Mr Shanks went to the town hall himself to look in on The Beatles, but had second thoughts after doorman David Murray told him the music was not good.

    Olive Lees, who was one of the 19 paying audience members, recalled that

    "The Beatles were late in arriving and when they came on stage one by one they were wearing three-quarter-length leather jackets, long scarves - one was trailing his on the ground behind him - and winkle pickers. 

    "Everyone was laughing at them. But they were brilliant and they chatted with the audience between songs."

     According to the North Star, the 2011 reunion proved to be a bigger hit than the Fab Four's performance back in 1963, attracting a much more respectable turn out of locals, including 15 of the original 19 paying audience members.

    Highland Councillor Margaret Paterson, whose idea it was to bring the Upbeat Beatles to Dingwall, said: "It was a fantastic concert and it was attended by more people than was at the original Beatles concert in 1963!

    "The tribute band was superb and had the whole place rocking. It was like a step back in time. People travelled long distances for the gig and it was tremendous for Dingwall."

     As it happens, our own modest event attracted nearly three times the number mustered by the Beatles back in 1963, which we were quite delighted about!

    And then it was back to the National Hotel, where a fiddlers' rally was in full swing, for a welcome bed, hearty breakfast and some truly fabulous Highland hospitality.

    national hotel

    The chief frocker was, however, greatly relieved not to have been allocated Room 101!

    room 101

    We all thoroughly enjoyed exploring Dingwall and hearing about its 'mod' history; and, unlike the Beatles, we'll definitely be back for a return visit!


  • We are the (one and only) Frockery®

    February 21, 2015

    trade mark

    Readers may remember our tale of woe as we walked the McNaughty walk back in November 2014 when we discovered that our long established Frockery brand was being passed off by another business in England.

    As we posted back then:

    " of our eagle eyed customers alerted us to the existence of a Facebook page (not ours) calling itself The Frockery. We also uncovered a history of trading under our business name at vintage fairs in England. We admit we were puzzled as we didn't think Facebook allowed brand duplication and we have long standing ownership of all the frockery domain names (from as far back as 2005) and social media accounts, having traded continuously as The Frockery™ since April 2007. A cursory Google search would have flagged up an inevitable plagiarism problem."

    In the end, the other business owner voluntarily changed her trading name when the infringement was brought to her attention and it became clear she simply hadn't done her research, but it was a stressful episode and one we never wanted to repeat.

    Deciding that we needed to ensure our brand was properly protected for the future, we took advice from specialist trade mark attorney, Eugene Pienaar, at Revomark and immediately started the formal process of trade marking the Frockery brand. Now these things take some considerable time, and there are various evidential hoops to jump, but we are beyond delighted to report that we have finally passed the finishing line and our trade mark registration is complete.

    So it's a relief all round that we are officially recognised as being unique and can more easily enforce our rights to the trade mark should anyone else decide to indulge in unauthorised freelance frockery.

    We are really going to enjoy adding that all important ® after our name. It cost us enough!