Collectif was established in the year 2000, from humble beginnings as a stall in London’s famous Camden Market, to one of the most exciting vintage inspired global fashion destinations. With a vision to combine fun and inclusive style with authentic collections from the 1940’s, 50’s and beyond, Collectif takes you on a journey across the decades. They invite you to experience the beauty of a bygone era, with a fun and relevant twist.
Collectif has three stores in London and one in Brighton, as well as an online store and 500+ wholesale customers. Collectif Brighton opened in June 2014 and quickly became a go to destination for locals, vintage fanatics and holiday makers alike. Their diverse team creates a safe and welcoming space for everyone to try something new or to take a trip down memory lane and revisit some classic shapes.
What is your favourite thing about vintage and retro fashion?
Frankie Turner, Brand Manager (FT)
The chance to revisit nostalgic shapes and design references and give them a current twist. There are so many iconic references that you can take inspiration from, whether it’s Dior’s New Look (late 40’s – 50’s), to the Swinging 60’s. It’s amazing fun to use these references and then create your own looks. For us at Collectif, there are no hard and fast rules, we love to take vintage shapes and make them accessible. The majority of the collection is created and fitted to dress size 6-22, so you can find the shape and style that suits you. Having fun with prints and patterns is all part of the process, but you can also choose classics in a solid colour and accessorise with vintage inspired bags and shoes.
I want to start dressing in vintage clothes. Where do I start?!
(FT) Think about the shape that you want to create: for example, do you want to emphasise your waist with a swing skirt, or do you want to show more leg with a 60’s mini dress? It’s all about your own style and feeling confident, it’s great to experiment but you also want to feel comfortable. You don’t have to get every detail right, or wear / create an exact replica of a vintage style, it’s about having fun and playing with silhouettes.
Collectif is a great place to browse and get inspired, as you can find a full size run in retro shapes, and there are plenty of accessories like belts and bags that you can add to give a more vintage feel to your outfit. Shopping true vintage is always a thrill, especially when you find that perfect piece, but it can be harder to find your exact size, and the fits are very different to current body shapes. Pinterest is also a great place to find visual references and build your own mood boards by era or by style.
What are some design features which make clothes or an outfit look vintage?
(FT) A full circle skirt will always give you an instant 50’s silhouette. By adding a petticoat you can exaggerate the shape even more, and this can really accentuate your waist. High waisted denim, skirts and trousers also give that 50’s shape. To complete the look, cardigans that sit at the high waist will ensure you keep that vintage silhouette. For a more fitted look, a pencil skirt is perfect, but make sure it’s below the knee and you pair it with a fitted blouse or top. For trousers look for pleats and a full, flowing leg, or a high waisted capri pant.
What is your favourite vintage style or trend?
(FT) The great thing about vintage is that you don’t have to follow trends. At Collectif we take inspiration from the 40’s through to the 70’s and incorporate current colour and print references. Prints can range from novelty to true vintage and we like to mix it up so our customers can wear rainbow stripes one day and a 50’s inspired tropical print the next! Personally I love a structured shirt dress with a full circle skirt, like our best-selling Caterina… it’s a classic vintage shape but can be worn with pumps and a day bag for a more casual style.
Do you have a go-to accessory?
(FT) To add a vintage look the best accessory is a petticoat, this creates volume and can elevate your 50’s style immediately. A square scarf also gives any outfit an instant vintage update, you can wear it in your hair, around your neck or tied to a bag. Let’s not forget a classic red lip and a cat eye, these simple additions can transform a simple outfit into something more retro.
(GB) I’m guessing it’s your first time going to Goodwood? If so, I’d say keep it classic and keep it comfortable in a land girl get up. Team our Kayden dungarees with your favourite button up blouse, tie your hair up in a headscarf, jump in your wellies and you’re good to go. Then when you’re there you can scope out all the fashions and eras in comfort, and get some good ideas for your next vintage inspired look.
I have always been scared of loud prints and bold colours! How can I get more comfortable with standing out and getting creative with clothes and fashion?
(GB) I’m exactly the same as you. I’ve always admired people who wear bold patterns and bright colours, but I haven’t taken that leap myself, and that’s fine… that might not be our thing. I’d say look at the classic shapes of the 50’s that we sell, we have classic pencil dresses in gorgeous olive greens and swing dresses in deep navy’s. I can tell you’d look and feel fantastic in one of our Caterinas. Also, don’t be scared to try a petticoat with them. People think by adding a petticoat it will make you look bigger but actually it can make your waist look itty bitty, plus you know it’s going to feel fantastic spinning around on the spot in a petticoat!
Where can I find out more about vintage fashion?
(GB) Firstly, I think I’d get a well deserved slap on the wrist if I didn’t say you should pop in and spend some time with us, we’ll get you clued up. But I’d also say get over to Instagram and check out people like @nikkiredcliffe and her gorgeous friend @biddystanford, @ladyeccentrikb also has style to die for! I’d also say simply go over to Pinterest and type in “1950’s clothing store” you get some great images of not just the clothing, but the gorgeous interiors and the camp window displays. And if you want some pastel heaven, search for “1950’s beauty salon”!