One of the busiest women in Vintage: Emily Hughes of ‘Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair’
Photo by Hanson Leatherby. York Hall, Bethnal Green. Oct 2014
This week I got to chat to one of the busiest women in Vintage. Miss Emily Hughes is the brand and events manager for one of the best Vintage fairs to come out of Leeds, Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair. Emily gave me an exclusive peek into her world of the best vintage shopping experience.
TSOTA: So how did it all start? Where did the inspiration come from?
EH: Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair started in 2005 in London. Judy was fed up of seeing overpriced vintage littering the capital so started a fair filled with affordable vintage traders. This is the ethos we still have for the business, we urge traders to discount their stock and keep their prices really affordable so everyone can try their hand at vintage. Judy started the fairs in Leeds back in 2007 and has run various events across the city every since.
TSOTA: How did you initially get involved?
EH: It was a fluke really. I emailed Judy in the Summer after my second year of University, I wanted something else to do (apart from University work and my bar job) and absolutely loved her brand. Funnily enough she was about to start looking for a student designer (I studied Graphic Design at University)…I suppose it was fate really! I worked for Judy on her graphics and occasionally at the fairs for almost 2 years before I started working full-time as the Brand and Event Manager – I’ve been at the helm for a year now and have loved every second.
Emily Hughes. Photo by Hanson Leatherby.
TSOTA: How many places do you visit around the UK in a year? Do you have any favourite venues to visit?
EH: We travel to around 30 cities in the UK now plus festivals throughout the Summer. I have particular soft spots for Leeds (as it’s our hometown) and London. We’ve got an amazing venue in East London – York Hall, that’s the perfect place for our fair – we’ve been there for years now. Fair days are really really long. I often finish at 6pm and then have a few hours drive ahead of me…you’re talking 14 hour days but it’s absolutely worth it!
TSOTA: How does your fair differ from ‘competition fairs’? What do you offer that other fairs don’t?
EH: Judy started her fair in 2005, a good few years before lots of the ‘competition fairs’. As I said before, we are the ‘affordable vintage fair’ and this is something other fairs can’t compete with. We do offer tea parties and vintage hair when the venues suit it but above all we always ensure we have amazing quality traders, reasonable prices, well-promoted events and a happy team…you can’t get much better than that!
Photo by Hanson Leatherby. York Hall, Bethnal Green. Oct 2014
TSOTA: What have been your favourite events this year? Does Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair have any plans for 2015?
EH: This year has been a huge year for the brand. We’ve had an event (or two) every weekend. Back in March I ran an event called ‘Vintage Nation’, a one-day vintage festival up in Edinburgh. It was packed with 100 traders, street food and live acts. It was amazing, the traders, the customers, the atmosphere…it was incredible. I felt such a sense of pride for organising the event from the ground up in 7 weeks. Actually, I get that feeling at each event. When I get really lovely praise from the public or see that someone has found an incredible vintage bargain it makes my day. A lady in Newcastle last week found a 1960s wedding dress for £20 – she looked absolutely mind blowing in it.
In 2015 we’ll be running lots of amazing events for our 10th anniversary year. We’ve got lots of plans up our sleeves at the moment…it’s all very exciting.
TSOTA: Who is your main target audience or do you see a mix of all people of all ages?
EH: Our main target audience is anyone that loves vintage (of course) however our main customers are women between 18-40 (and the odd gent too!) The lovely thing about the fairs is that we do see the younger generation – who love vintage and see it as an amazing way to buy ace clothes – mixing with the older generation, who love the nostalgia. We’ve got lots of regulars up and down the country along with new customers at each fair…it’s nice to open people up to vintage.
Click on thumbnail to enlarge
Photos by Hanson Leatherby. York Hall, Bethnal Green. Oct 2014
TSOTA: On the 29th November you will be descending on the Leeds’ Corn Exchange: a huge and beautiful venue perfect for the fair. How will your Christmas fair differ from previous events and how will you make it special?
EH: I’m already really excited for our November fair! We’re taking over the whole downstairs of the Corn Exchange with some of our best vintage traders. This year we’ll be doing surprise Christmas giveaways on the day for the ‘best dressed’ customers and handing out some festive treats to everyone that joins us. We’re also going to be raising money for ‘Simon on the Streets’ – a homeless charity based in Leeds. Our hometown fair is free entry but we’ll be asking customers for donations for this amazing cause. Christmas is one of my favourite times of year and our festive fair is always an amazing place to find that perfect party outfit, grab some unique Christmas presents or stock up on the tacky Christmas knits!
TSOTA: What is vintage/ vintage style to you?
EH: Vintage allows people to experiment with their style! You don’t have to be totally vintage to come to the events either – plenty of customers mix statement vintage pieces with high street items to create some fantastic looks. Personally I’m a lover of the 1950s. I have wardrobes full of dress, skirts, jumpers and fabrics from the era (it’s hard to keep a small wardrobe in this job). I’ve also got a few amazing bits of vintage furniture. We often get customers who don’t wear vintage but love the homewares and furniture! I think everyone should give vintage a chance, you can often find something totally unique for a snip of the price of a reproduction on the high street…what’s not to love?!
Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair is returning to Leeds’ Corn Exchange on November 29th, 10.30am – 6.00pm. Free entry!