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Vintage love affair…

Hiding in the small town of Widnes, there is a hidden gem for all things vintage.  Lucky Cat is the brainchild of fashion lover Jules Tobin who wanted to combine her love of vintage and her global experience to bring one-off pieces to other fashion lovers.  What a treat it is, to have a mix of some of the best one offs and designer treats in a small Northern town?  Here, Jules discusses her influences and inspirations.  I’m sure you will be as inspired as I am and fall in love with her vintage treasure trove, Lucky Cat.

What/Who influenced you to want to sell vintage?

Travel has been a key influence in my love of vintage clothing.  It began in Barcelona where I would rummage around the shops in the Raval district with a tight spending budget.  Weekly trips to the markets in Hong Kong with my friend, stuffing our bags with beautiful one-off pieces was where my inspiration was founded to sell vintage.  I’ll never forget the excitement of spotting an original Lanvin blouse in HK, Chanel quilted backpack in Cambodia and Chanel brooch and pearls at a flea market in Miami.

Who are your style icons?

My number one style icon would have to be Alexa Chung, I love the way she puts outfits together and mixes high fashion with low-key wardrobe staples.  Her style isn’t dictated by current trends but she manages to address them with her own personal slant.  Also for me, Edie Sedgwick defines an era of iconic style.  Lookbook.nu is a great source for inspiration, capturing an eclectic array of worldwide style.  Being inspired by your surroundings and street style allows you to appreciate individual style which is applicable to real life.  Living in Moscow, I would be in awe at the pristine, svelte women who would sashay onto the metro with effortless poise.  The traditional dress of Chinese villagers, the kitsch design spurred fashion of Bangkok.  Every destination is an opportunity for inspiration.

How would you describe your own personal style?

My own personal style isn’t consistent to one particular look. I have lots of fun putting together outfits according to the occasion and what I fancy wearing on the day! Some days I might feel like dressing down in a slouchy knit, tights and lace up pixie boots with my favoured oversized military jacket.  Other days I might want to channel a more designer influenced look, more polished and less scruff!  Fashion for me is fun and a form of expression, always stay true to your own personal style and choice because you might be one step ahead of the latest trend!

Who are your favourite designers?

I love the classic and unmistakable allure of Chanel monochrome and tweed.  Timeless pieces which can be forever adored.  I’ve always had a love of Emilio Pucci, for the vibrancy of their designs along with the intricacy of Missoni.  Burberry never fail to inspire through their constant reinventions of their coveted trench.  I also love the way Dolce and Gabanna merge their Italian heritage with the glamour of high fashion so successfully in their advertising campaigns.

Have you always been interested in fashion?

Early memories include plenty of dressing up in my auntie’s 80’s clothes. My sister and I would have hours of fun and trying to make evening dresses out of bed sheets!  I also recall begging my Mum for a red dress with polka dots on from Pretty Things in Widnes.  As I got older I became more aware of current fashion but I always like to be unique and not be dictated by trends.  Fashion is definitely one of my biggest passions as it allows each individual an outlet for creative expression. I love a bargain and for me fashion isn’t about spending lots of money on a designer item, its about rummaging and searching for those special one off pieces.  I feel very lucky that I’ve been able to turn my love of fashion into a career.

What advice would you give to young fashionistas who haven’t worn vintage before?

My advice to youngsters who haven’t worn vintage before is to be open minded and true to your own inclination of what you like.  The joy that comes with shopping for vintage is that you can walk into a vintage shop and come across a garment or accessory which is so unusual and unexpected.  Its this uncertainty which allows a vintage shopper to get a totally different shopping experience to somebody who sticks to the high street.  Shopping on the high street can be predictable, and everything is in mass.  With vintage you are able to appreciate a whole host of different fabrics, designs, and styles which can appeal to individual preference.  There term ‘vintage’ is so broad that not every item will appeal to a vintage shopper, find your niche and a comfort zone to begin with.  A classic vintage look with a contemporary twist for this season could be some levis re-worked denim shorts, a check flannel shirt, lace up leather pixie boots and a military parka.

What is your favourite trend for AW12 and how easy will it be to recreate this using vintage pieces?

I love the Oriental trend which has been so prominent in the fashion forecasts for this season.  I was extra happy that Lucky Cat’s launch coincides with the Asian themed trend! Search the racks for sumptuous cherry blossom silks, embroidered granddad collar blouses and kimono dresses.  Or tackle two trend at once by cinched berry shades in with an obi belt.

Whats your favourite item of clothing?

Probably the Lanvin blouse which I picked up in H.K.  The design is so beautiful and intricate and the quality is undeniable.  Oh and my favourite accessory has to be my YSL gold earrings which my friends bought me for my 22nd birthday!

Do you think designer vintage pieces are a must have for any fashionista?

I think that its definitely nice to have the odd designer piece in your wardrobe collection but only due to the quality of the design and fabric.  I don’t like the concept of style being judged by labels, its how the individual chooses to wear something and add their own slant which defines a winning look.  Wearing a vintage designer piece allows you to feel extra special knowing that you’re continuing its legacy.

What is the best way to wear vintage if you’re new to it?

If you’re new to vintage don’t be afraid. Not all vintage equates to garish fabrics and dynasty worthy shoulder pads!  Get into the mindset of rummaging and going with your gut instinct about something which you genuinely like.  Vintage shopping can be really liberating in that there’s such an array of items to choose from that re-inventing your look and injecting some originality is easily achieved.  It allows you to think outside the box and get creative with your styling, use your imagination!

Why would you encourage people to wear vintage?

Vintage clothing allows you to be unique and original as well as eco friendly.  Each piece is a pre-loved possession ready for the next chapter and new wardrobe.  Vintage fashion enables you to experiment with different era’s, fabrics and as I mentioned above, it allows you to use your imagination.

Where do you look for style and inspiration?

I look for inspiration through my environment, books, street style, music, fashion blogs, magazines, instagram, film, culture and perhaps most importantly, travel.

If you could own any item of clothing or accessory, what would it be?

It would have to be a vintage Chanel quilted black leather waist pouch.  Compact, practical and the ultimate finishing touch to any outfit.

 What inspired you to open ‘Lucky Cat’?

 I have been collecting vintage clothing and accessories for around 3 years now and after returning home having lived overseas since finishing University I began to sell on Ebay.  I also did some vintage fairs and my Dad mentioned that perhaps the next step would be for me to apply for a stall.  Vintage clothing is an untapped market in this area, most people have to venture to Liverpool or Manchester so I decided to take the plunge! I’ve always dreamt of having my own shop so for me its been so exciting to bring the vision to life and see it develop.

 Where did the name ‘Lucky Cat’ come from?

 The name ‘Lucky Cat’ came from my friend Stephanie.  We’d been for our usual rummage at the night market in H.K and afterwards we went for a drink and pulled out our new finds.  We were throwing ideas about for potential names for the business when Steph came up with Lucky Cat, it was perfect.  With reference to Hong Kong it enabled the customer to know that their purchases had come from Asian origins and was a unique concept to the U.K vintage market.

 What do you look for when choosing vintage pieces?

 I handpick all of my stock therefore all garments are items which I personally love and would wear. Searching for vintage for me is instinctive and I trust my own judgment. It was important that Lucky Cat didn’t slip into the category of other vintage shops where there is an ‘anything goes’ type of mentality.  I always check that the garment is in good condition without flaws, functioning zips, lined etc.  The item must be made from quality fabric, have unusual detailing and design.  I also take note of upcoming trends to inject a collection feel to my stock and a consistency in stock layout.  Anything eye catching, unusual and quirky gets my vote!