Regulars at The White Hart pub in Crystal Palace are used to rubbing shoulders with shoppers in search of vintage clothing.
Vintagehart, a small but perfectly formed second-hand emporium, has been nestled within one of the area’s best-loved hostelries for the past eight years.
Founded by friends Annette Prosser and Dawn Wilson, the shop sells bright, bold vintage garments from almost any era up to the 1980s. Visitors can also browse collections of retro chic childrenswear, homewares, haberdashery and hand-crafted millinery.
Annette, who met Dawn when their children were at nursery together, formerly worked in magazine publishing. Dawn worked for English Heritage and the civil service, though she studied Fine Arts at Birmingham. Once the pair had their Church Road business underway, Dawn learned millinery at night school and her unique hats are now a permanent fixture in store.
Vintagehart isn’t about recreating the war years with repro dresses and pin curls. As Dawn explains: “It’s more about the mix and match. It’s about wearing the vintage with your own wardrobe and making it your own.”
“We don’t sell reproduction clothing,” adds Annette. “Everything is original. A few years ago, we started making our own, such as childrenswear for under-fives, but with vintage textiles. That’s our YoungatHart range.”
Both women live locally and Dawn’s studio is in nearby Gipsy Hill. The pair played their part in the vintage boom in the area. “There have always been vintage clothes in Haynes Lane Market,” says Annette. “But I think we were the first to bring it up on to the Crystal Palace Triangle. A few more opened up and it grew from there.”
How did such a treasure trove find its home inside a pub? Annette explains: “We didn’t want to have a stall. We wanted to have a shop to display everything beautifully. We were looking around and shops are expensive to run. There was someone who used to sell jewellery here so we approached the pub and said we’d like to turn it into a shop.
“We’ve got a great relationship with the brewery. All businesses are trying to find something a bit different. They’re proud of the shop and we’re proud of the pub.”
A firm favourite in the community, business continues to grow. “It’s evolved a lot since we started,” says Annette. “In the beginning we were only open weekends and it was purely womenswear. Then Dawn’s beautiful millinery came in, then childrenswear, now homewares. We’re doing haberdashery now to add to the list of things that people wearing second-hand clothing might need. They often do their own alterations.”
Speaking of the gems in store, Annette explains how they’re unearthed: “We don’t ship anything in. It comes to us. People ring us up – their aunty has moved and they want someone to go through their wardrobe. Or people who’ve worn and collected vintage come and sell things to us. Much of it is British. We’ve sold Hardy Amies, Biba, Galliano and we like them but it’s not what we’re after. We’re in it for affordable, quality, unusual pieces.”
But it isn’t just vintage at the heart of this business. It’s the extraordinary passion of its founders and customers. “People come in all the time and say ‘I bought something from you four years ago and everyone still comments on it.’
“When people buy things from here, they love them, look after them and keep wearing them, which is what we’re about. It’s not fashionable, it’s just a beautiful thing that’s part of their style. It’s clothing they really love.”
Vintagehart are active on social media:
For more information about Dawn’s hats visit:
by Catherine Davies