Queens of Vintage: In Conversation with Gayle aka Soul and Flare

22 May 2022
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Welcome to the second instalment in our QUEENS OF VINTAGE series where we chat to our favouritevintage experts about all things style, sourcing and sustainability. Recently we sat down with Gayle, the owner of@soulandflarewhich mixes upcycling and carefully curated vintage.

Georgia Taylor Stidwell: What started your love of vintage? 

Gayle: Throughout my young adult life I had a different style to my peers who bought on the high street. My first job was working in a vintage clothing shop called Cow Vintage, I worked as their upcycling seamstress. Once I landed that job I started to see all the different kinds of 80s and 90s fashion coming through the door. My love for all things vintage really started then. After that job I moved to another vintage store called Backlash Vintage, this really opened my eyes to a huge range of vintage from the 1920s right through to the 90s and I fell in love with the silhouettes, styles and fabrics. As a seamstress, appreciation of the craftsmanship and my proximity to all things vintage really went hand in hand!  

GTS: What is your favourite item you have made or upcycled and why?

G: We work with a lot of men’s formal shirts, as an item of clothing this is probably my favourite thing to upcycle, purely because of the fabric and because they are one of the hardest selling secondhand items. For us to be able to upcycle and reuse them into women’s fashion is very rewarding.

Gayle wearing her signature Paola blouse made from upcyled men’s shirts

GTS: What prompted you to start Soul And Flare, did it begin on depop and grow from there?

G: My mum has always been a huge inspiration, she taught me to sew at a young age and I loved textiles at school! I opened Soul and Flare on Depop in 2016, I saw a gap in the market at the time for selling boho, 70s women’s clothing. This is what I started my Depop shop on hence the very bohemian name, Soul and Flare. I started to sell boho clothing which was very 70s inspired and I grew my following from there, it has evolved over the years into what it is now! My love of sewing has meant I have always wanted a combined studio which offered alterations, repairs and upcycling as well as the vintage clothing in an aim to reduce throwaway fashion waste. 

GTS: What do you think of the criticism that vintage resale is gentrifying secondhand shopping and still promoting overconsumption?

Some resellers are super passionate about vintage and really want to do good for the planet. We enjoy looking at vintage, giving it a new lease of life, repairing where it needs to be and showing the story of where the item has been repaired or what new item it is going to be made into. 

Then I have also seen another sort of resale which is trend oriented and focusses on particular designers. Just because you are buying second hand does not mean your consumption does not have an impact, it is still possible to overconsume secondhand clothes. 

Reselling has become a culture now, I am very interested to watch this develop in the coming years. I feel so passionate about going against trend led vintage, I want people to buy items from me that they will have in their wardrobes forever and that they will want to wear over and over! I ask all my customers to ‘please wear this item well’ when they buy something. My clothes are not to be worn once, if someone comes into the store and they are uncertain about an item I always talk them out of the purchase because if something is not quite right for them, the item will end up sitting unworn in a wardrobe and that is not what my business is about.

I don’t have a lot of personal clothes myself and I rotate my clothing a lot, I don’t care that I wore the same outfit last week. The top I am wearing today has a cigarette burn in the arm and I am going to mend it and keep wearing it!

GTS: What is your favourite era for vintage clothing?

G: It is the 1970s hands down, no arguments! I love the silhouette, I love the mix of silhouettes, the decade is characterised by either big floaty maxi dresses or the more form fitting crochet tops and flares and of course I love the bohemian aspect. 

Gay outside her store (photography by @inc.everyday)

GTS: What do you envisage for the future of fashion?

G: I feel like we are part of a very positive movement at the moment. We are in an increasingly digital world, everything is more accessible and it is easier to learn about. People are becoming more and more aware of the impact of the fashion industry on our climate. I envisage a positive change for the future, things like Earth day, which we just celebrated are gaining more and more visibility. I think people are aware that change is necessary, even if that is that going out to buy one second hand outfit over one that has been mass produced, this can only be positive. I do think that people are questioning their buying habits more and I can only see this expanding into the future.

Click here to read our last QUEENS OF VINTAGE blog post with The Pansy Garden