Former Sefridges Personal shopper, fashion promotion graduate and television stylist, Judy Berger couldn’t believe her luck when sat on the couch of BBC Breakfast. With the nation gripped by eco-friendly bring-but-don’t-buy concept, ‘What’s mine is Yours’ and features in The Independent, The Guardian, Marie Claire and Grazia lined up, Judy’s swap-shop had come a long way from its premise as a means to bag new outfits without spending a penny; “I ran out of friends who were the same size as me and I couldn’t just swap with strangers!” she chimes. Balancing new project ‘ISM: The Indoor Sunday Market’ alongside the mania of ‘What’s Mine is Yours’ in 2005, Judy established ISM in the East End of London as a cultural cross-over between vintage stalls, handmade titbits and music, all marketed as ‘something good to do on a Sunday.’
Taking a break from the fast fashion of the capital, Judy left London for Leeds in 2006 where, away from the bright lights, a light bulb of inspiration blinked on. In a market in need of fresh ideas on a frugal scale, ‘Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair’ was born. Forever a fan of the old-world glamour that surrounded vintage clothing, Judy’s idea was elementary; hand-picked by the lady herself, the fair would bring a community of traders with specialities spanning six decades, all dedicated to bringing alternative fashion for affordable prices. Away from the high street, the fair presented stifled shoppers with a way to be individual, in vogue and not out of pocket. Scrutinised by the former Selfridges personal shopper, the fair presented vintage wares that were on trend, unique and eco-friendly, demonstrating that just because something is old, it doesn’t mean it’s old hat. “I wanted to create an event that I wanted to shop at,” Judy adds, explaining why her event was less bingo hall and more rock ‘n’ roll.
Following the launch of Leeds in 2006, the fair’s reputation for new age fun with a vintage feel lead to the unveiling of events in Manchester, Hull, Liverpool and Sheffield in 2007, with Newcastle, Durham, Nottingham and Lincoln added to the bill by 2008. With a giddy mix of handcrafted homewares and old-school threads all for an entry fee of £2 or under, the fairs flourished. With seven cities conquered, Judy’s troupe braved a return to the Big Smoke in 2009 and with queues snaking through the capital, Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair was met with nothing but applause. In addition to embracing Cambridge, Derby and York, 2009 saw Judy and the stallholders take to the road for festival season, being the first vintage fair to take on Beach Break, Lovebox, Offset and Standon Calling, taking vintage out of retirement and reuniting it with its rock and roll roots.
Bringing vintage to Oxford and Leicester as well as the welcome additions of Glasgow and Edinburgh, the jewel in the crown of 2010 came with a prestigious invitation from Wayne Hemmingway to curate the summer’s ‘Vintage at Goodwood’ festival. Responsible for selecting the illustrious 150 traders to make up the marketplace, Judy presented a whopping 30,000 fashion fans with the largest vintage marketplace in the country. Awash with designers, stylists and celebrities [Sophie Ellis Bextor, Brix Smith -Start and Daisy and Pearl Lowe all stopped by to say hello] the event was heralded a hit and Judy was asked to stay on to curate next year’s feature.
With Brighton, Bristol and Birmingham firmly on the agenda for 2010, the fairs are growing at a rapid rate and with designer labels such as YSL, Ossie Clark and Christian Dior spotted on the rails, you never know who or what you might find. That said, despite her big-wig status and business expertise, Judy and the Team remain all about the outfits and the mantra of giving vintage a chance; “I love it. I love it more than going out… I make money out of my hobby, what person doesn’t ever want to do that?” elates Judy, adding that “I think the big mistake is people not trying things on. Try things on! Give it a chance! Just because it doesn’t have a size on it, it doesn’t mean it won’t fit.” In a market where outfits and other fairs burn-out before they have begun, it is the unrivaled enthusiasm and savoir-faire of Judy and her troupe that ensure that The Affordable Vintage Fair rolls on.