Vintage style at Ludlow's Wear House

PUBLISHED: 15:50 22 March 2011 | UPDATED: 19:03 20 February 2013

Vintage style at Ludlow's Wear House

Vintage style at Ludlow's Wear House

Sharon Chilcott goes back to the future on a shopping trip to Ludlow's quirky Wear House

Retro to go

Sharon Chilcott goes back to the future on a shopping trip to Ludlows quirky Wear House

There are three floors of thrilling finds at The Wear House, the latest venture for Ludlows Zani Lady, Sue Humphries.

Twenty individual dealers, designers and makers are creatively crammed into the elegant three-storey property in Mill Street, where, Sue says: We aim to create a laid-back atmosphere, with music which evokes the era on each floor, where everything is beautifully and artistically laid out.

The Wear House is full of inspiration for interior decoration and distinctive vintage-inspired fashion and accessories and its the perfect place to pick up a pretty and unusual gift. Its masterminded by Sue, who relocated the business Zani Lady here from Corve Street at the end of June last year. Ten of the businesses that originally operated from Zani Lady have been joined by an equal number of new and talented dealers and makers. Just as they did at Zani Lady, each dealer pays for an area in the shop and helps to staff the premises. Each brings style and talent to the mix of affordable, decorative antiques, quirky home and garden items, retro fashion, designer recycled clothes, vintage clothing and accessories, antique jewellery, French-influenced textiles and linens, art and craft.

Sues own passion is for French-inspired brocante. I first got started in this business about 14 years ago when, as a single parent, I was trying to do up my own house on a budget, buying things from the flea markets. I had some surplus items and started by selling them at a flea market in Much Wenlock, where I lived. Then I started trading in an antiques centre in Leominster and that became so popular that I opened a shop in Ludlow with three others. The French inspiration comes from the fact that I went on a coach trip to France for antique hunters and I got hooked. I was out of the property market in England but I had a small amount of equity so I bought a run-down little house in France and I used to go over every six weeks with friends, going round the markets and bringing things home.

Her style is: I put quirky things together. I like the vintage look and I like affordable, decorative items for the home items that are useful as well as part of a look.

Sue has an area on the ground floor of The Wear House where she sells decorative items and upstairs she has filled another space with beautiful French linens, textiles and cushions and a small selection of vintage clothing.

She has drawn together a team of like-minded individuals to collaborate in The Wear House, and almost all have an intriguing story about how they first started in their business. In the hallway, theres a display of whimsical hand-painted china by Emily Jones, who had a long and successful career as a photographic model, and almost a decade of notoriety as the girl in the Nimble advertisement.

Victoria Geary and Rebecca Griffiths, both graduates in Textile Design from Falmouth University, have turned the 1940s concept of make do and mend into an avant-garde style statement. Their business partnership, Pretty Rubbish specialises in turning outdated, unwanted clothing into up-to-the-minute must-haves, using a variety of techniques such as embroidery, beading, wire and lace work. For Rebecca, its a passion which started when she was a child, rummaging through her grandparents vintage chests, uncovering antique dresses and jewellery.

Viv Sliwka of Hens Teeth indulges her love of all things vintage by making pretty purses and bags using a combination of vintage and recycled textiles. She also makes embroidered paper ephemera and sells many of her items via her blog and a vintage website, attracting lots of custom from America. At The Wear House, her items can be found on the first floor, where theres also a collection of designer vintage clothing brought together by Nina Hay Hutchinson. Says Sue: Ninas background is as a museum textile curator and she is developing into dress design, but meanwhile she is selling a collection of beautiful 1920s to 1950s vintage, wearable clothing.

In the front room on the first floor is Vintage Cates stunning collection of 1940s and 50s vintage clothes and accessories. Catherine Plant, who used to have a room at Zani Lady in Corve Street, individually selects the items. Her elegant collection is quite different from that of Eli Davey, of Violet Rose Vintage. Elis enthusiasm for vintage clothes and fashions started when she was studying for a fashion and textiles degree. About 10 years ago I got into the history of costume and fashion and started to collect wedding dresses, she says. However, they were quite big to store so then I started collecting vintage clothes. Then I decided I should sell them because I didnt have enough wardrobe space! Eli has developed her own individual style, which she calls funky retro, and, says Sue: She comes to work here in a different stunning outfit each day. She has collected together a quirky and eclectic mix of garments from many different eras, mainly 1950s to 1980s, suitable for all sorts of occasions. She customises some of her pieces by changing the buttons, repairing them and adding linings. I love the idea that all the items have been previously loved and have their own little story, she says. Vintage clothing has definitely become more fashionable and all over the world people are becoming more aware of being as economic as possible and recycling clothing. Find Eli in the Retro Room and Coffee Lounge on the ground floor of The Wear House pop in for a retro shopping experience and enjoy one of her cupcakes, coffee, hot chocolate or milkshakes. This room may also be booked for Retro Tea Parties.

On the third floor, find beautiful and unusual clothing and sumptuous textiles, including throws and quilts, brought together by Hannah Whyman who conserves and restores textiles and has a stand in Hammersmith. Here, also, Olivia Gibson has a collection of interesting, collectable and unusual items including rag rugs and folk art. In the adjoining third-floor room, find Maggie Finch with her vintage clothing, vintage home ware, Welsh blankets and designer jewellery, as well and vintage gentlemans clothing, accessories and tweed jackets.

Also on this floor, Helen Sheward of Bay Mare sells an eclectic mix of small pictures, jewellery and small furniture and Pip Leslie-Rowe sells a selection of handmade soaps, new clothing, designer labels, silks and knitwear. Pip and her husband Ivor make their Pure Scents soaps using pure vegetable oils and perfuming them with pure essential oils. Their purpose-built workshop in the Shropshire Hills is part of an old Methodist chapel, which they stumbled upon four years ago and have been renovating ever since. Alongside Pips display in this room are also pretty painted items of furniture and decorated trunks from Funky Vintage and designer made, funky unusual clothing. Theres also a selection of pretty china, glassware and white table linen.

At The Wear House browsers can find water colours by local artist Tracey Somerville, garden furniture and architectural pieces collected by Dawn Jones of Upper Track displayed in the pretty enclosed rear courtyard garden, Liz Barton and her selection of vintage and contemporary jewellery displayed in the hall and Box Room, run by Jane Bryant, on the first floor, full of eclectic items including small furniture, china, lamps and prints. On entering the shop, the first items they will find are decorative antiques picked out by the discerning eye of Annie Ward. Annie is known for her stand at Newark and as an annual participant in the Bath Decorative Fair.

Sue is organising a Rags & Riches Vintage Pop Up Bazaar on Saturday, May 14 and Sunday 15 at the Harley Centre, Market Square, Ludlow. Zani Ladys Antiques, Collectables and Flea Market will be held at the same venue on Saturday, April 9.

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