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THE STORY

 

THE SHORT VERSION 

Soul and Flare is a curation of feminine vintage & re/styled clothing. Mixing eras from the 50s-90s, each item is lovingly revived or re/styled with the vision that it will last another 50 years.

In 2016 Soul and Flare established itself on the Depop marketplace. Shortly after, creator of the brand, Gay pursued her dream of having an IRL sewing studio which is now situated on Sneinton Market Avenues, Nottingham. Gay has worked in the vintage industry for almost a decade and has spent more than two decades honing her sewing skills.  She now curates collections of vintage and re/styled clothing with a romantic & feminine feel.  Each piece is hand selected with the intentions of making another woman feel empowered -from purchasing, to receiving, to wearing- knowing that they have helped towards reducing throw away fashion waste.
 

THE FULL STORY

I remember from a young age being in awe of my mum sewing on her machine; she would do everything from altering second hand items for me and my sister, fixing curtains, to occasionally making clothes for herself (and still loves being behind the sewing machine now.)  My mother (who was working class at the time) used to drag me and my sister around charity shops and car boot sales, not with the conscious intention of being sustainable but because she enjoyed hunting for bargains, and because buying new for twin daughters just wasn’t affordable.  I never realised at the time how these nostalgic moments would shape my future. After school I studied fashion & textiles on and off for 5 years. By 2008 I had a BTEC national diploma in Fashion & Textiles and a 2:1 degree in Fashion for Industry.  In hindsight, the inspiration from my mother, and nostalgic moments from my childhood have much more of part to play in where me and my business are at today that my education in fashion did.

When I was at college, I took every opportunity to practice my sewing skills.  I would make clothes for myself and my friends -men and women- for going clubbing such as deep plunge vests and loose-fitting tees in funky fabrics.   I soon outgrew the cupboard space where my machines were set up and it became challenging cutting everything out on my bedroom floor so eventually I moved into a log cabin workshop in the garden that we called it The Outhouse. This is where I set up my first business, an independent jersey wear brand called MadebyGayle which I did alongside basic alterations and repairs. Even though I was manufacturing new items, I would buy deadstock and end of roll fabrics from big chain companies from a local shop in a neighbouring village.  Again, at the time I never really understood how sustainable I was acting.

In 2011 I decided to get a part time job at COW vintage in Nottingham as a re-work seamstress where I transformed existing clothing into something new.  This is where the seed was planted, and I started to appreciate vintage clothing more. The love for the job and the company unfortunately faded so with a hop, skip and a jump (and a few jobs in between) I finally found myself at Baklash, one of the most established and best independent vintage shops of its time in Nottingham. I initially started as their seamstress, but my passion for the job and the vintage clothes I was surrounded by soon moved me to start working full time.  I worked closely with the owner Eve, who taught me everything she knew about vintage clothes.  I learnt to identify the era of garments by their silhouettes and the history of clothing. We would go on sourcing days for stock to a rag yard here in the UK; this is where I witnessed the sheer amount of clothing and textiles we waste as a country. It wasn’t a pretty job -we would physically have to sift through every piece of clothing- we would be so dirty at the end of each day. Despite this we would find so many treasures, grabbing musty 1970s dresses, the crumpled-up Versace shirts, Burberry macs with missing buttons and the slightly stained suede Pennylane coats. After some much-needed TLC, each item would be displayed in the shop and sold to someone who would love it for another lifetime. Me and Eve always had very different tastes.  I loved anything 70s, 80s, boho or hippy style, she had more classic tastes: leathers,1920s, denim & Harris Tweeds. She always encouraged me to set up on my own so when I opened the Depop shop in 2016, Eve helped me source the garments.  I already had the brand name ready -Soul and Flare- from a short-lived side hustle with an ex-boyfriend, that like our relationship, didn’t last… the one thing I kept from the relationship was the brand name!

Unfortunately the decline in footfall in the area meant Baklash had to close its doors in 2017, but fortunately I was in a position to go it alone and took the leap to become fully independent and run Soul & Flare on Depop. I moved into a shared studio space on the top floor of a building waiting to be renovated. Here I had a photography area, and finally after many years of sitting in storage, a space for my machines. This is when Soul & Flare really started to establish itself.  I had my alterations and repairs and selling vintage on Depop running alongside each other and I was now fully committed to the brand.  From then the business has grown to what it is today: an IRL sewing studio on Sneinton Market Avenues, Nottingham, where I save each piece of clothing from going to waste by repairing it and finding it a new home.