There’s nothing we love more than chatting to the stall owners over at Portobello Market. So for this week’s blog post, we decided to interview vintage seller Sarah Horrillo; the lovely Sarah is a regular trader at Portobello and you can catch her selling one of a kind vintage clothing and accessories every Friday. After trading at London’s most iconic market location and a number of vintage fashion fairs for more than 2 years, Sarah has now developed a dedicated client base and an expert eye for vintage – and we’ve been dying to pick her brains about it all!
And after speaking to the elegant, eloquent and very talented Sarah, we now know that there really is no formula to vintage. You either have that flair or you don’t, and you either have an eye for it – or again – you don’t. And Sarah confirms our exact thoughts with her ever so confident style attitude. She’s a true vintage ambassador and I think the key word here is “style”, not “fashion”.
(Above: unique pieces from Sarah’s stall)
So if you want to know all the inner secrets of a modern-day vintage style (not fashion) expert, read on and see what vintage stall owner Sarah has to share with us…
1. Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m 55 and live in London with my husband. I’m a mother first and foremost, once a psychotherapist, a mosaic artist, a waitress and a bit of a wild child ! Always had an artistic or creative eye; or so I’ve been told, but was never as truly at home as I am now selling vintage treasures.
2. How did you get into vintage?
I got into vintage by accident really; after a traumatic loss I couldn’t return to being a psychotherapist. Needing to raise a little money I took a load of stuff from my attic and did a couple of Sunday stalls at Portobello Market by the Westway. A trader asked if I had a shop and when I said no she suggested I try a Friday and thought I’d do well. She said I had a good eye for “stock” (AKA my old clothes!). So I began to buy to sell and moved pitches until I found my place and a regular stall! Two and a half years later, I now realise it’s what I should have always done. And love it .
(Above: Sarah sorting through stock and with one of her regular customers)
3. Do you have a favourite era?
I suppose if pushed it would be the 40s & 70s (inspired by the 40s) but it’s hard to chose as there’s beauty and incredible style and design in all eras.
4. What do love about Portobello Market?
I love the other traders, the community and eclectic mix and being a part of it! It’s like no other retail environment; there’s a passion and joy and delight in our stock and the treasures we find. And that same delight is apparent in some of our enthusiast buyers and vintage loving clientele. It feels like you are sharing something as well as selling!
The mix of vintage on Fridays is fantastic from £1 flea finds to £1000 treasures, plus for fabulous pieces on the row of stalls known as ‘Bond Street ‘, and everything in-between. There’s nowhere else much like it left in London because most markets have been ‘smartened up’ and have lost their soul and individuality, become generic, selling mass produced rubbish found in markets worldwide.
We get regular buyers from all over, for Film & TV, designers from all over the world & fashion students (shopping for inspiration) as well as vintage lovers, locals and some tourists who have heard of Portobello; people who want and have individual style rather than the same old same old everyone’s wearing .
5. What’s your advice for finding the best vintage clothes and/or accessories?
Buy what you like not what you think is ‘on trend’ then you’ll look far more stylish, individual, comfortable & confident. Also be brave, if you love it wear it . . buy for yourself, not for your wardrobe. Also there’s no shame in mixing vintage with new. There are no rules, except not to cut up a beautiful vintage piece (unless altering a little to fit or damaged already to give it a new life ) but that’s just me!
I used to buy what I thought would sell and that didn’t work so well for me; I now only buy what I like, regardless of era, style or label and I now sell with more confidence and find my stall has its own style and coherence (and I do much better from it). It’s important to love what you sell and love what you wear.
(Above: Sarah’s stall at Portobello)
6. What are your key vintage trends for accessories this A/W?
I buy and sell what I love mostly. I am aware of ‘trends’ and seasonal fashions, but I don’t really follow them. I love prints in particular and little details in design and cut, so that’s what I’m attracted to when buying. I do sell seasonal stock but not particularly ‘on trend’ or at least not intentionally!