Growing up close to Portobello market, Miranda Porter and her sister Charlie (of TAT London) spent their weekends looking for bargains on the racks. This May she launched LINES, a destination for vintage fashion for modern life, letting us all in on her eagle-eyed finds:
What was the idea behind LINES:
I love vintage clothes, but found that vintage fashion was often thought of as ‘niche’, ‘cute’ or worst of all – ‘quirky’. The designs of the 30s, 40s and 50s are unparalleled in their craft; it’s not quirky – it’s still very relevant. So, I started LINES – vintage fashion for modern life; beautiful bits and pieces that you can add to your wardrobe, mix with today’s clothes and look just excellent.
Where do you source your beautiful pieces?
Everywhere. I learnt from my mother that no stone should be left unturned when you’re on the hunt, so even the least likely looking vintage/ bric-a-brac/ antique shop will get a quick once over. This along with a growing group of excellent vendors from all over the world: wedding kimonos coming from Japan, embroidered silk coming from Italy and Spain. There are a lot of stones to turn.
And tips for making vintage clothes feel wearable, fresh and up-to-date?
For me, it’s all about the accessories; mixing and matching vintage pieces with today’s comfort to give a layered, fun look that doesn’t mean you can’t move or sit down. So, a good collection of denim jackets, white plimsolls, big earrings and good belts will see you on your way nicely.
What’s the focus for LINES?
I’ll always have a soft spot for dresses, but the focus is the decade. So, I’m looking for pieces from the 20s- 80s which are in great condition and that I could imagine my mates wearing. If I can picture one of them in it, no matter what ‘it’ is, I’m getting it.
How can people shop? (try on..?)
There isn’t currently a ‘try-on’ option, but there is a one-week returns policy. I want people to be happy with what they have bought -as these are vintage, often handmade pieces, they’ll be occasions where they just won’t work.
Do you take commissions, would you help someone find the perfect vintage wedding dress for example?
Yes, that’s part of the plan, but I think you have to know a lot about the person, the wedding, and the look and feel of what they’re hunting to be of real service, so that will take a little more time. So far, I’ve sold three people their wedding dresses, which was wholly thrilling, and I’m sitting on a few pieces that I’m sure will make other prospective brides very happy.
What’s the most precious item in your wardrobe and why?
That would be my own wedding dress, but it doesn’t hang in my wardrobe, instead on the wall in my LINES room, aka a very small second bedroom. Made by Beyond Bridal it’s the most wonderful dress, and frankly, I’m unlikely to buy anything like that again, so I’m treating it like art and hanging it pride of place. I hate the idea that we invest so much time, energy and money in these dresses, and then they get dry-cleaned and hidden away.
Do all your clothes tend to be tiny sizes? Is there a way to wear vintage if we’re not petite?
Frustratingly, it’s more of a sign of times rather than anything else. Food production has changed so much over the last 100 years that people were just a lot smaller in the 20s, 30s and 40s, so it does mean that most pieces from those eras tend to be on the small side. However, my number one goal is to find fabulous pieces AND have a collection that covers a range of sizes. They’re out there, just takes a little more time to find.
Otherwise, if you’ve seen a piece you need to have, but it’s not your size, research seamstresses in your area and see if the piece can be ‘let out’. Dresses especially, as they’re often handmade, can have swathes of material in the lining and down the seams to allow for changes throughout the owner’s life. Again, something our current fashion industry could learn from.
You’re from a family of creatives, what was it like growing up in the Porter household?
A lovely mix of tip-toeing around offices – both my parents were and still are writers – deadlines being a very real thing, and extended family dinners, talking about anything from interior design and film to writing and politics.
The key thing I think you learn from growing up around creative people, both at home and then later at work, is the importance of a work ethic; I certainly learnt that in my house.
The Stroud Green end of Finsbury Park; it’s got great pubs, food and close to many different groups of mates. Within 40 minutes of pretty much everywhere in London and 12 minutes from Old Street – perfection.
What’s in the pipeline?
LINES is still in the very early stages, so I’m focusing on getting the shop ready for A/W. While there were pink satins and peach silks when I started LINES in May, there will be vibrant hues and velvets for winter.
Alongside that, my sister, Charlie P, has her second pop-up for her brilliant brand interiors brand Tat, in the first two weeks of September, next to Pentreath and Hall, so I’ll be helping her on that.
Could you share a piece or two from LINES and tell us how you’d style them?
Of course! This is 1950s sequined embroidered top has been one of my favourites finds so far, chiefly because the detailing is immaculate. Handmade and embroidered in Turin. The iridescent sequins are fantastic, and the beading around the feathers is so sweet. You wouldn’t want to cloud this with too much else, so a low bun, thin gold hoops, light denim jacket and silk skirt would be just a delight.
Next up is this brilliant black deco heavy silk jacket with floral sequins and beading around scalloped edges from the 1920s. I love this because it’s so strong, so confident. You can imagine a woman putting this on 100 years ago and feeling more herself; ready for the night to come. And I think that’s how you would feel with it now, over a white t-shirt, straight black trousers and stilettos. It’s a killer!