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The Virtues of Vintage

Designer Wayne Hemingway has become the force behind Scotland’s Vintage Glasgow festival
Wayne and Geraldine Hemingway are the design world’s most illustrious power couple

An innovative designer with a passion for all things vintage, Wayne Hemingway has become the force behind Scotland’s Vintage Glasgow festival.

“Me and the missus started off selling second hand clothes at Camden Market and we are big collectors of all things. I think it’s vitally important that really good ideas, whether it’s timeless music like Northern Soul or timeless cars like the Mini, are kept alive – good design is good design and stands the test of time. That’s what vintage is all about, celebrating moments in time and style. It’s the same way that certain films, say It’s a Wonderful Life, will always mean something to each generation. Human beings don’t change that much.”

Human beings may not change, but Vintage Glasgow has certainly grown since it’s 2013 debut.

“We’ve got a history of understanding Glasgow,” the designer modestly explains. “When we opened Red or Dead we had a shop up there and used to host some amazing parties - people know how to party. We were approached to see if we’d be interested in the Festival up there and we knew straight away it’d be a good place to do it.” 

With the festival encompassing all things vintage – “there’s all sorts that people can join in with, whether it’s sewing, hair and beauty, a fantastic vintage marketplace with sellers from all over Europe” – the public are encouraged to get involved. Indeed, Wayne’s love of music will see him personally hit the decks in a father-son duo. 

“You’ve got this myriad of different kinds of music to listen to – we’ve ‘40s swing bands, and The Soul Casino is playing the history of soul music from Northern Soul to British Funk and boogie and disco.”

A man with a clear love of mid-century Britain, does a particular decade resonate?

“The decade when I was a teenager was the ‘70s and that was fantastic. It started off with Glam Rock, Roxy, Bowie, great soul music, lots of Northern Soul going on. Funk, disco, then punk came along then New Romantic, one after another.

“The fashion in the ‘60s, the mod three button suit, the narrow trousers, that’s probably the most manly fashion style and the one I ascribe to the most. But then you look at the ‘50s and clothing was fantastic for women especially, the music was exciting and rebellious. For my wife the favourite decade in terms of fashion is the ‘40s, she has an amazing collection of clothing. 1920’s fashion is probably the sexiest ever for women and we’ve massive numbers of ladies at Vintage Glasgow who dress up for our Charleston Brunch.”

With the festival providing space for vintage-centric entrepreneurs to trade from vintage cars, Wayne pays homage to his own humble beginnings.

“It’s great to see people get their ideas out in front of thousands of people. We try and keep prices very low at our events, we also try to use small bands and DJs. They’re pretty well known but again these people sometimes struggle to earn a living so part of Vintage Glasgow is giving people a chance to earn too. We also make a lot of the events free so that it becomes inclusive rather than exclusive. It’s important to us that you can come without a penny to your pocket and have a good time.”

With his adherence to upcycling, refurbishment and sustainability integral to his creative process, did Wayne see fast fashion as at conflict with his self-started fashion label, Red or Dead?

“We were very early on the front of being ethical. We were making our denim out of hemp which was a sustainable fabric, we were manufacturing it in a prison in Yorkshire for ethical reasons.

We were hopefully doing the right thing and it was always hard but we were at the vanguard of doing the right thing.”

Besides, Wayne’s own attire demonstrates that a worthy product will always stand the test of time. His favourite garment?

“I’ve got 40 odd, or maybe more, of the same shirt, all in different colours with slightly different materials.”