Feb 152015
 

One of the reasons for closing The March Hare was, weirdly, the popularity of the Wednesday March frocks above all other things in the shop.  With the travelling and the work involved in actually running the shop, there just wasn’t enough time to make sufficient garments to keep up with demand and have a proper range of sizes and styles in stock.  Closing the shop, renting a workshop and concentrating on the made to measure side of the business seemed to be the way forward.  And it was.  It definitely was.  No question about that.

But it did close the main window on the world and plenty of people, both local and visiting, were very sad about the decision.  There has been a lot of feedback on this.  It’s a difficult one, because many of the people who mourned the disappearance of The March Hare had never actually bought anything in there; whilst they loved the style of the shop and clothing, it has to be said that not everybody had the budget or time for a made to measure, especially given the length of the waiting list.  So, realistically, the shop had to go.

When I closed it, the plan was to do some outside events, retro fairs, etc and maybe the odd pop-up shop, but swapping the huge 4×4 for a 2-seater sports job made the logistics of moving rails, mannequins and stock problematical and Miss Wednesday is still unconvinced that giving up her beloved Snippy (the hairdresser’s car) will end in anything other than driving misery.  So she’s bimbled along, making the made to measure and having a lovely time, but not getting out much and missing having that window on the world, which was good, albeit expensive, advertising.

On Tuesday 10th February, at 11.41 am,  a short Facebook message pinged in from a friend with a shop in Looe.  “Have you got a number I can call you on please?!!!”

This was either sent to the wrong person or a cry for help.  Number duly provided and Sharon called to explain.  She was opening another branch of Lovely Lane Interiors in Polperro on Saturday 14th and had already advertised that there would be some vintage clothing but that the person providing that part of the offering had been unable to go through with it and she wondered if there was anything left from The March Hare that could be put into her new shop to fill the gap.

Er, no.  Not really.  It is all made to measure now and any samples tend to get snapped up quite quickly.

One hour later, however, Miss Wednesday was in the workshop and Wednesday March Ready to Wear was under way!  It is not a huge range at the moment, given the timescale (3 days!) but there are plans for it.  The first pieces were delivered to Sharon at the new shop on Friday afternoon and will be added to as quickly as possible, whilst still providing the normal made to measure service.  The full range should be in place by Easter.  No pressure…!

Retro style frock with novelty print on white background

A bad picture of the first WM Ready to Wear design! Meet “Chessie”. Round neck, scoop back, gathered skirt. Ta dah!

Chessie is the first ready to wear design.  She’s simple, classic and classy.  The garments in the range will be offered in standard sizes (S, M, L, XL) and limited to one in each style/fabric/size to start with to maintain some exclusivity, certainly until we can gauge the demand.  But who knows where this may lead?

Chessie is priced at £85, which is considerably less than the made to measure garments and is currently available in a beautiful print of Edwardian ladies.  The fabric is designed and printed in England and the frocks are made in Darkest Cornwall – how’s that for Buy British?!  Grab one while you can.

Wednesday March Ready to Wear is currently only available from Lovely Lane Interiors, Polperro, Cornwall.  Drive to Polperro, park up in the carpark (do NOT be tempted to drive right down as it is very narrow and access is restricted to essential vehicles only) and wander on down the quaint main street.  Lovely Lane can be found on the right hand side, past The Kitchen restaurant and next door to the ice cream kiosk.  The sign is more easily spotted on the way back than the way down so keep your eyes peeled.  Inside you’ll find all manner of glorious furnishings and goodies to tempt you, along with some rather nice frocks and petticoats and a vintage tea room offering Cornish Tea and Coffee.

Interior shot of shabby chic interiors store

The Lord Mayor of Polperro, having opened the new Lovely Lane Interiors store there. WM Ready To Wear just behind him to the left! Photo stolen from Holiday Cottages Polperro

Meanwhile, Miss Wednesday is slaving away on the next design.  Watch this space…

Nov 022014
 

Last week, I read a status from a friend on Facebook that really struck a chord with me:-

“So hard when my business is struggling and I keep seeing my friends liking and sharing posts from one of the main cheapo, poor quality, overseas made brands that are putting me out of business.”

Ouch.  I feel that pain.  Because it’s happening a lot.  And I’m seeing it from people I thought actually cared about the same things I care about.  About supporting British business and industry.  About buying the best quality they can afford and thinking about their purchases rather than, “Never mind the quality, feel the width”.

It actually makes me feel sick* when I see someone I consider a close friend helping advertise these fly-by-night companies, who mostly import cheap copies from China and have them labelled as their own designs.  I think about the friends and contacts I have in the fashion industry who have worked hard to build up their retro brands and doggedly stuck to their principles – having everything done in the UK and doing their bit to support British manufacturing, even though it undoubtedly costs more – also feeling sick as they watch their friends and customers marketing this stuff for those companies who don’t give a hoot about ethics, supporting this country’s economy or even about the customers who adore the retro/vintage/rockabilly/psychobilly look and scene.  What will these “brands” be doing when the whim of fashion turns to something “new”?  Where will those people who are longtime devotees of the look get their clothing then?  Because I can assure you that those big, cheapo brands are bandwagon jumpers and they will drop the current look for the next big thing quicker than a yummy mummy with the whiff of a new “designer” fragrance.  They haven’t worked long hours perfecting their craft, their designs and their skills.  They haven’t searched and researched in order to bring you quality products manufactured with integrity.  They copied the ideas of those designers who put in the hours and work, handed them over to sweatshops in far flung lands, no doubt squeezed the margins on those factories and are now flooding the market with “their” products.

Woman in retro frock at desk and frowning

Miss Wednesday sweating blood in her workshop. Doing the stuff that isn’t sewing. Yes, she’s grumpy.

I’ve noticed a huge change in the pages of Vintage Life magazine since some of these “brands” started swamping the marketplace.  The pages are now filled with “look books” from the likes of them and most of the smaller advertisers have disappeared.  Where have they gone?  I shudder to think.  There used to be at least 8 pages of “classified” adverts for smaller British brands.  Now there are 2.  And while we’re on the subject of advertising, you know all those features with pretty products from different companies?  Little pictures of delicious items that the magazine have been clever enough to track down and want to share with their lovely readership?  Doesn’t work like that.  In order to have your product included in one of those “What we’re loving this month!” features, you are expected to pay a lot of money.  It doesn’t look like paid for advertising but I can assure you that it is.  And it’s expensive.  Most of the smaller companies can’t afford it, which is why you see the same few big names cropping up time and time again, including some from the US.

So there’s the irony.  Those big companies with their huge advertising budgets who are swamping the market, are also getting the “liker and sharers” to do their advertising for them.  Double whammy!  How they must rub their hands with glee.  “All we have to do is offer one of our cheap as chips products and thousands upon thousands of people are spreading the word for us!  It’s cost us, ooh, less than a tenner!  Result!”  And that’s if they do actually give away all the frocks they are offering…  There’s a lot of fakery goes on with Facebook.  Plenty of accounts aren’t actually real.  It’s a huge problem.

The boutiques are also hit by the swamping tactics.  As the market becomes flooded with these wares, the smaller, middle-ground companies get pushed out and people expect to buy a frock for £24.99 so the boutiques have little choice but to stock those products instead.  Obviously they need to shift a lot of those products in order to pay the rent and overheads on their premises, let alone make a living but if that’s what the customer demands…  Of course, it isn’t long before the boutiques are forced to give up and close their doors.  This is happening all over the country, which is taking away jobs and livelihoods and removing choice from the consumer.

So please, think about what you buy and think about what you’re “liking and sharing” on social media too.  Consider the wider implications of your actions because those ripples go a long way and their consequences may well not be to your liking.

Next week, the importance of that choice.  And coming soon there will be a links page entitled “Miss Wednesday Loves…”  It will be chock-a-block with loveliness of excellent quality and wonderful design and, frankly, spilling over with integrity, although not in a “flappy sandals and knit-your-own-yoghurt” way.  Your go-to resource for all the things that – gasp! – Miss Wednesday cannot provide.  Watch this space.

 

* It should be pointed out, however, that whilst it is a horrid feeling, it’s tempered by the knowledge that none of the people I consider friends will have done this maliciously and therefore it’s never made a blind bit of difference to my feelings towards them and their friendship.