Bare Essentials

Fashion, music, places

Instagram has a lot to answer for – roughly 90% of my procrastination, for one thing – but one of its great benefits is that it helps us come across people and brands that you would otherwise never discover. One such brand is Bare Vintage, and such people are its founders, Lauren and Gus.

Bare is an independent retailer of handpicked vintage clothes. Available on their website, as well as on social shopping app Depop, Bare’s ever-changing collection offers pre-owned branded and designer picks. A selection of one-offs, their aesthetic lands comfortably in mid 90s sportswear territory, alongside the occasional kitsch pop culture find.

Imagine the coolest person you’ve ever met was selling all of their clothes on eBay and you’d be somewhere close to what Bare Vintage is. Fittingly, that is basically how the brand got started.

“When we began we had no idea what it would become, we were just selling some of Gus’s vintage pieces that wouldn’t fit in our tiny apartment!” admits Lauren. Two years on, it’s safe to say that things have taken off, though not without difficulty.

“The biggest challenge has been trying to find time… We both work full-time, and everything we’ve done for Bare has been evenings and weekends. It’s our dream to be able to pursue it full-time eventually and have the time to try and focus on all the projects that at the moment are just ideas.”

Aside from expected streetwear/vintage fodder Reeboks and Nikes, the Bare collection is also littered with names like Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger – the quintessential duo of preppy turned sporty turned hip-hop turned vintage style.

The team really have an eye for spotting unique finds too, whether it’s a burgundy varsity jacket or a sweatshirt embroidered with Looney Tunes characters.

“Every single item we sell is hand picked,” they announce proudly. “When we choose an item, we ask ourselves ‘Would we use this piece in a photo shoot?’ which keeps the standard high. A piece has to be great quality, unique design and you shouldn’t want to put it down!”

I had the pleasure of visiting their pop-up shop in Manchester a few weeks ago to take a look at their collection first hand. For the London-based brand, it was their first venture up North, but any apprehension was unfounded as the response was unequivocally positive.

“We are both still absolutely amazed at the turnout we had at our Manchester pop up,” Lauren and Gus confess. “There was a real sense of community up there and we can’t wait to come back again!”

The event took place at The Grey Shop, housed in Jutah Studios – a boutique streetwear space in Manchester’s Northern Quarter (past readers will know I’m a big fan of the Northern Quarter). Over some pulsating beats and a few gin and tonics (clear liquids only to minimise damage to the clothes in case drinks spill during particularly passionate skanking), I had a peruse of the collection.

Two standouts for me were a couple of varsity jackets – one in a golden hue and the other a Lakers branded number in mustard yellow. Definitely not for the faint-hearted, I quite enjoyed the obnoxious yet undeniable cool of the pair.

So, what’s next for Bare Vintage? I ask.

“Our next pop up is 25th – 26th of this month (August) in Birmingham! Neither of us have ever been to Birmingham, so it’s another adventure for us. We plan to host more events across the U.K. and beyond, so keep an eye out.”

A good place to keep an eye on Bare Vintage is on Instagram where they post choice items and snaps from their photoshoots. Having already amassed just under 15,000 followers however, you might have to join the queue.

 

@ediadegbola

Mind The Gap

Fashion

I’ve worked at Gap for over a year now. As you can imagine, I’ve spent it consistently making variations on a poor joke about it being my “Gap year”. These jokes are never well received.

Despite people’s unfortunate inability to appreciate my humour, I’ve grown to love Gap and their clothes. Now past their 90s heyday, Gap has perhaps fallen a touch out of favour with millennials which I think is a shame.

While keeping its finger on the fashion pulse, Gap generally goes for lasting style, rather than fleeting trends. By way of an example, I remember seeing a selection of men’s capes at Topman a couple of years ago. Safe to say Gap never got on board with that particular trend.

Gap clothes are, for the most part, good quality and they have a simple, understated cool to them that, I think can be underrated in today’s fast fashion market.

And believe it or not, I’m not just saying all this because they pay my salary.

For today’s outfit, I picked some of my favourites from this season at Gap. I styled them a couple of ways to show how versatile some of these items can be. All pictures are from my incredibly talented friend Luke. Take a look at some of his work here and read some things he’s written here.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are now approaching the station.

Please mind the Gap.

 

Look 1

I based the first look around this vintage style ringer tee. I really enjoy the rings on the arms and neck which is a nice sporty touch. Coupled with the ’69 slogan, they make me think that this is what you would wear in old-timey gym, throwing around a battered leather medicine ball and wearing unnecessarily revealing shorts. 1980s Bruce Jenner and the Village People know what I’m talking about. (You need to click on that link. Thank me later.)

While this outfit is mostly new stock, the chinos are currently £14.99 in the sale. I like this particular pair because of the pleats, which is something I’m quite into right now. It’s a nice little detail that makes the look stand out a little. Usually my trousers have a 34inch inseam (the distance from your crotch to the bottom) but cropped trousers are having a moment right now, so this time I went for a 32inch instead. I also helped them out a little by turning up the hem a single time, once again adding a little detail that makes it a little more personal.

This denim shirt is a really easy layer to throw on and bring a some instant cool to an outfit. It looks great dressed down like this or dressed up as we’ll see later on. I rolled up the sleeves  a little which makes the outfit look a bit more chilled and relaxed.

A big fan of denim, I’ve thrown on another layer. I love this indigo denim jacket which brings some darker tones to the otherwise rather bright outfit. Double denim can be dangerous territory. Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake found that out the hard way in 2001. Never forget.

An easy way to avoid that sort of turn of the millennium madness is to go for differing tones of denim. Here the darker jacket stands out from the lighter shirt so the outfit doesn’t look too matchy-matchy. As you get more confident in your denim mixing skills, you can start to play with similar tones for some more retro-style looks.

I’ve done this a little this time by adding this embroidered denim cap. Trading heavily on Americana influences, it’s quite a fun, casual piece and I think it really brings the outfit together. Embroidery is popping up in all kinds of places recently (last year’s souvenir jacket trend probably had something to do with that) and so is distressed denim. This piece gives a tip of the hat to both trends. See what I did there?

Look 2

Keeping things classy, this second look is a little more put-together than the former. Holding on to the denim shirt, I threw on a light sweater for a relaxed but less casual look. In a slightly washed out navy blue, this jumper is the perfect summer layer to add as the evenings start to get a little chilly, while the denim jacket is the perfect summer layer to add is the evenings start to get even chillier. Let’s be real here, people.

Trousers and shoes are of course the same as last time – my incredibly cheap chinos and my trusty white sneaks (my shoes are from Boohoo, not Gap).

Where possible I have added online links to the items in this post. Unfortunately the tee shirt and the hat are unavailable online at the time of writing, but should be available in larger Gap stores. Often items can be cheaper in store than online so it’s always worth popping in anyway.

Finally, I’ll say that Gap are incredibly generous with sales and discounts. At the time of writing, there is 25% extra off sale prices online and instore. Those chinos, for example would cost £11.24. You can keep up with all the discounts by joining the mailing list here.

Just to clarify, Gap haven’t asked me to say any of this. I just genuinely think they make some good clothes which can be very competitively priced if you come at the right times.

I’ll leave you to fill in the gaps.

Stingily Vintage

Fashion

I’ve always been notoriously, unashamedly, almost evangelistically, stingy. I just hate paying more for something than I think I should.

That said, I spend roughly half of my income in coffeeshops and around a quarter on various sweets and pastries, so this parsimony is basically the only way I’m able to fund my addictions.

This instinctive sense of entitlement to the finer things in life contrasted with my chronic unwillingness to part with my money can be a struggle. But savvy clothes shopping can do a lot to ease the tension.

As it goes, today’s outfit is a penny-pinching triumph, costing me just under £5 altogether.

Stinginess. It’s a talent.

 

Let’s start off with this vintage sweatshirt. For the record, “vintage” in fashion is just a fancy way to say “secondhand and somebody probably died in this”.  I really enjoy the nautical feel of this jumper and its oversized, worn-in style. I bought it from a shop in Belgium for €3. Bargain. This is a great one to throw on with some jeans or maybe chuck it over a pair of shorts as sunny summer afternoons turn to breezy summer evenings.

Subtotal: £2.61 (€3)

My slouchy denim jacket used to belong to my mum and I basically just stole it. I have zero regrets. Over the years, this light wash denim has become my go-to outerwear, seeing me through spring, summer and autumn, but doesn’t quite cut it during the harsh northern winter.

Subtotal: £2.61

You can’t really see it but, underneath the sweatshirt, I’m wearing a white tee with a sporty elasticated ringer neck. I got this from Boohoo.com and it cost £4 with one of the 50% discount codes that they send out quite indiscriminately. However, last year I won a competition that gave me a free £500 to spend on the website. So in actuality, it cost me nothing. Begrudgingly, I have to admit that this one can’t be blamed on my shopping skills, this was purely luck!

Subotal: £2.61

While giving a nod to the incumbent 70s trend, my corduroy trousers still keep things contemporary in a slim silhouette. I got them on sale for £2 at Primark a few months ago. That’s a rather heavy-handed reduction, even for Primark, so clearly they had overestimated the demand for corduroy trou as there was a table completely full of these bargain cords.

Subtotal: £4.61

Finally my white sneakers were another find from Boohoo.com. I think they cost £10 with the 50% off (honestly, never pay full price on Boohoo, just wait for a discount!), but like the tee, they cost me nothing in actual money.

This brings the grand total to a measly £4.61, having actually paid for only two of the five items.

Eat your heart out, Ebenezer Scrooge.

As I look back over this post, searching desperately for some sort of conclusion, it would appear that my budget fashion tips are as follows:

  • Trawl vintage shops and discount bins
  • Steal
  • Be lucky

Words to live by.

Freshen Up

Fashion

(Feel free to scroll down to the outfit if you don’t fancy reading my somewhat lengthy introduction.)

To ring in the new year, my housemates and I threw a 90s/00s themed party. Naturally, it was fancy dress.

If I’m honest, I’ve never been too big a fan of fancy dress. Firstly, it’s a lot of effort, and I generally dislike things that require effort. Strike one.

Secondly, fancy dress rarely looks good. It can look creative or ingenious or clever, but it almost never looks good. Best case scenario, you look like as much like a Minion as it is possible for a human being to look, but you don’t look good. You look like a Minion. Strike two.

Finally, fancy dress often includes body paint which kind of makes me cringe. Strike three, and we’re out.

This is something that I’ve subconsciously known but never really processed before. Writing this right now is genuinely the first time I’ve thought about why I dislike body paint so I can only apologise for whatever stream of consciousness diatribe comes next.

Maybe it’s because I had eczema growing up so my mother never let me use face paint or even those cool transfer tattoos that everyone had. Instead I had to stick them on my book bag that held my piano sheet music. My book bag.

Or maybe it’s because I’ve been forced to rub against sweaty, over-familiar, painted clubgoers on various nights out while at university.

Or maybe it’s because people always miss out bits of skin (honestly, the number of smurfs I’ve seen with unpainted napes) which is just unsettling; or even worse, when they go overboard with face paint and their eyes, mouths and nostrils look like gaping holes into another dimension, lost in a sea of cheap acrylic paint.

*shudder*

So all of that considered, I’ve never really been a fan of fancy dress. This year however, I decided I’d give it a good go.

I tried to find an easily recognisable black 90s/00s character, which is harder than you might think. And before you go on about colour-blind costumes, I’ve tried that before and either no one had a clue who I was or they racked their brains to think of an appropriate black character who they assumed I must have been. In fact I once went to a party dressed as a cowboy and my friend decided that I must have been Django (Unchained).

Eventually I ended up with The Fresh Prince of Bel Air – the king (sorry, prince) of 90s cool. I borrowed my housemate’s dungarees and I already had an appropriately kitsch snapback so just needed an obnoxiously patterned shirt.

I found this – let’s face it – objectively ugly shirt in a charity shop and, much to my surprise, have quite started to like it and begun to incorporate it into my everyday style.

So that’s what this unnecessarily long introduction has been about – trying something different and discovering a new style.

Safe to say I’ve waffled on for long enough so let’s get down to today’s outfit. All these pictures were taken by my friend Luke. Check out his other work here.

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As discussed, this shirt is from a charity shop. It was originally from M&S and was, in fact, designed for men, despite all suggestions to the contrary. I’m really into 90s vibes at the moment. The decade came back into fashion a few of years ago but sort of plateaued, challenged no doubt by the bohemian 70s styles that came in not long afterwards. Over the last few seasons however, 90s style has come back in a big way, especially in the sports luxe/athleisure trend (ie sportswear that isn’t really designed for sport). Gap, where I work, is having an extended throwback with their 90s Archive Reissue, re-releasing some of their classic pieces from when they were at the height of their cool.

With quite a loud shirt, I’ve gone for solid colours for the rest of the outfit, starting off with my trusty plain white tee. I decided to tuck it in, which, once again, is a bit of a 90s thing, and I think it looks a little cleaner and more put-together.

My jacket is from Boohooman.com. I’ve recently become quite a fan of textured materials (corduroy, waffle knit, ribbed cotton, velvet) and, fittingly, this jacket is made of a navy blue (fake) suede. I’ve been seeing a lot of suede bombers around recently, especially in a brown tan colour, so I wanted to stand out a little by going blue. As I’ve discussed in previous posts, I’m something of a lanky gentleman so this medium jacket doesn’t quite reach my wrists, while a larger size would have been too baggy. My answer to this is to roll up the sleeves a little so it looks like a stylistic choice, rather than a necessity.

Another nod to the 90s are my straight leg trousers. In recent seasons, designers have finally started to move away from the slim silhouette that has gripped our bottom halves for the last decade, instead looking to more relaxed, skater-inspired fits. This light wash denim is relaxed and casual, making the perfect addition to my chilled outfit.

Wider legs can be difficult to pull off without looking like you’re wearing your dad’s gardening trousers, so high hemlines (either cropped at the ankle or rolled up like mine) are a good way to make sure you look more skater boy than see you later, boy.

My shoes were £3 from Primark so I bought them in two colours. A deal’s a deal, man. Finally, I’ve gone for some stripy tube socks and this simple grey cap to add in some last minute 90s touches.

So that’s my 90s inspired outfit – yet another thing we can add to the already lengthy list of things we can thank Will Smith for.

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The North(ern quarter) Remembers

places

A couple of weekends ago I spent some time in Manchester.

Manchester is an incredibly cool city and while I was waiting to meet my friend (this is the friend who is a part-time wizard), I spent some time mooching around The Northern Quarter – the city’s recognised hipster refuge.

Home to “alternative department store” Afflecks alongside a barrage of vintage shops, record stores and pseudo-quaint cafes, the pretentious side of me was positively salivating.

Perhaps my favourite location was We Are Cow – a vintage shop whose range is stocked at Topman among other places. Independent fashion meets big business. I enjoyed the decor – the highlight of which had to be a sign that spelt out the word ‘cow’ with filament bulbs in mason jars suspended from the ceiling. I love the ridiculousness of that sentence.

Aside from kitsch decor and lifeless mannequins that were still somehow cooler than I am ever likely to be, We Are Cow clearly took pride in their extensive range of preloved, restored and repurposed clothes that sprawled over two floors of nostalgia. Alongside the usual assortment of classic jackets, jeans and knitwear sat unique Frankenstein-esque creations such as Polo by Ralph Lauren shirts with cotton sweatshirt arms spliced on. And vice-versa.

After leaving the shop, safe in the knowledge that I too am in fact Cow, I wandered around a couple of record stores and a few more vintage shops until I was drawn in by the distinctive neon sign outside Pop Boutique (an independent vintage chain) which said “Come and Worship” in green and electric blue. I thought it might be a hipster church or something, I don’t know.

Inside I was greeted not by a vicar, but a by bearded man in a wood panelled room full of retro clothing, leaning nonchalantly on a glass topped counter in front of an onsite barbershop. That was good enough for me. Downstairs was the furniture department, which was basically like stepping into the set of a Wes Anderson film, with its nostalgic yet somehow timeless yet still very 70s atmosphere.

I popped into self-proclaimed “design store and speciality coffee bar” Fig + Sparrow for a drink and a sit down. The cafe (which also boasts an apartment, rentable on Airbnb) has a light and airy interior – tall ceilings, white walls and lots of pine. After enjoying a delightful peppermint tea, I had a browse of the products on offer which were mostly cool knick-knacks for the home.

I also got the chance to have a brief look in book and magazine shop Magma. I’ve always loved magazines and this design-focused shop didn’t disappoint with their unprecedented range. They basically stocked all the cool design publications that I already followed on Instagram. Supplementing the literature was an array of cool gifts and fun things. Pretty MAGnificent.

I’m sorry, there was no need for that.

Ok, that’s about the extent of my Northern Quarter wanderings, really.

As you can probably tell from the reference that I crudely shoe-horned into the title of this post, I’ve been watching a lot of Game of Thrones recently, so I thought I’d sign off in classic Westerosi style.

Yours sincerely,

Edi Adegbola of House Adegbola, First of His Name, King of the Andals and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm.