Sunday, 17 April 2011

The Vintage Kilo Sale - a review and guide

Some of you may remember seeing that many of my vintage revamp projects started their lives at the Vintage Kilo Sale, and as it was on yesterday I thought I'd give you the low down on this rather different kind of vintage event...

Now the first thing to say about the Vintage Kilo Sale is that it's definitely not your run of the mill vintage fair. If you go expecting tables laid out carefully, and perfectly selected vintage treasures for your perusal, such as you would find at Frock Me Vintage or Clerkenwell Vintage Fashion Fair, then you will be sorely disappointed. This is simply because the clothes that are on sale are sourced in a way that is completely different to your standard vintage fair. Usually when you go to a vintage fair you have a huge variety of different stalls, each owned individually, and every owner has their own style and aesthetic that comes through in the unique items that they are selling. The Vintage Kilo Sale is a very different animal...

Look at all those clothes! Glass Onion central (source)

The clothing sold at the sale - all 2.5 tonnes of it! - is provided by the Glass Onion and is delivered in bulk. When at the fair you can literally stand and watch as the organizers haul in vast plastic bags stuffed with clothes, split them open, then slowly work their way through the mound of clothes and divide them between the rails, it's a quite a sight to behold! 

As you can see the emphasis here is clearly on quantity, not necessarily quality. I'm not saying that the clothes on offer are in any way defective, far from it in fact as everything is in good vintage condition, but the sheer volume of clothes demanded for the event means that the staple basic on the rails is either 80s or 90s fare (not strictly vintage at all!). If you are looking for a 1950s day dress ready to wear then this is definitely not the place for you! However, if the 80s look is your thing you'll probably be more than happy for a browse. Of course many of you who have read my previous posts will know that I am very much inspired by the 1940s and 50s for my look, and that I have very little interest in more modern vintage, so what, you may ask, do I get from the Vintage Kilo Sale? Well, as a matter of fact I get quite a lot!

Firstly, if you're looking for a vintage look on a tight budget the Kilo Sale really is the place for you, it cannot be beaten for value for money. Admission to your common or garden vintage fair will cost you on average about £4, and then depending on what you buy you could end up - if you wanted to - spending hundreds of pounds on just a few items. Of course, this usually means you are taking home some beautiful, perfectly fitting items (I only spend big bucks on vintage if the clothes fit me well, I'm not forking out £50-£60 and then doing alterations at home! Plus part of me feels that changing an original beauty would be a crime, I don't think I quite possess the skills needed yet) that you will treasure for a lifetime, but I know that personally I cannot afford to do this on a regular basis. The Vintage Kilo is brilliant for getting some staple vintage garments into your wardrobe without  your having to break the bank. They price the items by weight, i.e. a kilo of clothing is £15. What does a kilo of clothes look like? Well obviously different types of clothes will weigh different amounts, but very roughly it's about 4 dresses or a thick jumper and blouse with a pair of jeans. So you know that the clothes you are getting are dirt cheap which is a plus! Also admission is only £1, so if you don't see anything you fancy you're hardly out of pocket at all.

Bags as far as the eye can see (source)

The second thing I get out of the Kilo Sale goes back to what I was saying about altering vintage clothes. As a rule with vintage clothes I usually have to do some alterations, and if, for example, I had just spend £50 on an original 1940s dress I would be wary about changing it, even just taking it in might spoil it! Now at the Kilo Sale I really don't have that problem! Because I look at the clothes knowing that I'm going to change them and make them perfect for me (vintage revamps galore!) I don't have to make sure they fit me perfectly, in fact the size of the items is pretty irrelevant. Because the clothes are so cheap (price-wise remember, not quality-wise!) I'm not afraid to hack into them and transform them later. As long as there is enough fabric to create something that fits me, and of course I like the fabric, then the skirt/top/dress is a winner! And of course this means that there is a huge variety of clothes for me to pick from, because the majority of visitors to the sale will be looking for clothes that fit already, therefore anything oversized and unwanted is mine for the taking! Mwahahaha! So if you're a home sewer like me get to the Kilo Sale, it's a great source of low priced fabrics :)

Inside the Rag Factory

Another thing that I love about that Kilo sale is the location. The Rag Factory where the sale takes place is just off Brick Lane, meaning you are close to some brilliant vintage stores - Beyond Retro being a personal favourite :) - so you could even make a day of it if you wanted to! Also, the nature of the sale means that it could turn into a bit of a crazy jumble sale, but the venue doesn't allow that. The white washed walls and huge skylights add a lightness and a sense of relaxation to what could be a manic atmosphere, so you feel more able to take your time and simply browse. Never underestimate the power of a good venue :) Plus the people running the show are really friendly and clearly enjoying themselves, and that always makes me feel happy!

Vintage buyers in action!

I'm now going to provide you with a few tips about what to do when visiting the Kilo Sale - these are by no means perfect laws or the only way to go about things, they've just made my life a bit easier so I thought I'd share!

  • Arrive Early - although the sale is constantly stocked throughout the day I do think you'll get the best pick if you arrive early (I got there a little late on this trip and I felt that pickings were slimmer than previous visits). Also there will be less people the earlier you arrive, guaranteeing you a stress free perusal and purchase!
  • Travel light - there's nothing worse than being weighed down with bags when you want to get up close and personal with a garment, really feel what it's made of. Small bags are best for the easier browsing experience.
  • If in doubt, grab - and no, I don't mean out of someone else's hands! I just mean that if you think you like the look of something it's better to keep hold of it than to let someone else nab it and then cry about it later. After all, every piece here is unique, so if it's gone it's gone. You can always put it back for some other lucky soul later.
  • Check please - as with all vintage shopping really make sure you know what you're purchasing before you do. There's nothing worse than noticing a stain or tear that you can't fix after you get your goodies home. Check items thoroughly, inside and out! 
  • Take time and analyse - after you've selected armfuls of pretty things and carried them around for a while, find a corner and reassess your choices. That dress that you fell in love with on the spur of the moment might not look the same in the light of day! If you're planning alterations really think if you can make the outfit work and, most importantly, if you'll wear it when you do. If not, be nice and let someone else enjoy the item!
  • Let's not get carried away... - don't come away with heaps of clothes just because they are cheap. I sometimes get overwhelmed by how far I can make my money stretch at the sale and I have on occasion bought things that I have not worn or used. This is the last thing I need, and it just made me feel guilty. Learn from my mistakes! Only buy things that you know you can give a good home to, however great the prices may look. Remember, vintage is for life, not just for the day of the Vintage Kilo Sale :)

And there you have it, my run down of the goings on at the Vintage Kilo Sale. I hope you have found this post interesting and informative (and hopefully not too dull!). Join me tomorrow when I'll share with you my Vintage Kilo finds and my plans for them.

Bye for now!


LandGirl1980 said...

What an awesome review!

Miss Katie said...

Thanks! I hope it's helpful in at least some way :)

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