Edinburgh used to be world-renowned as a capital for vintage shopping. Since the beginning of World War I, the idea of vintage shopping or reusing something discarded by the previous owner was a way of living. From clothes to furniture during the First World War, most possessions were repaired, mended, or tailored for other family members. Often, clothing was recycled at home into rags or quilts, and furniture was sold because of families’ lack of income. The government’s conservation campaign used slogans such as “Make economy fashionable lest it become obligatory”, resulting in an approximate 10 per cent reduction in the production of trash.
In the late 20th century, there was an increased demand for high fashion labels and the desire for something new and fresh. As a result, sales from collective stores started to depreciate. Soon after, these enterprises closed down due to maintenance costs that could not be met.
As a tourist studying in Edinburgh, I was thrilled to experience the city’s vintage scene. But after a year of residing here, I noticed that multiple retro stores were starting to close down, and I became emotionally affected by it. So, I decided to capture the harsh reality that these shops have had to face. Here is a selection of five photographs that I shot and edited:
Over the last few years, Vintage and Antique has been trying to run full-time from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. everyday. Two years ago, they had to cut down their opening hours to 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. They are due to close down very soon.
“I am struggling to maintain the store, as sales are not high enough to pay the bills of my store”, the owner of this music-oriented vintage store said. To reduce electricity bills, they are only able to open on certain days.
Multiple cars and pedestrians have been passing by this store, not realising that they just witnessed a man’s dreams come true. “I have always wanted to open a vintage store, and this is just exactly what I dreamt of since I was a young boy”, the owner of this store said.
This last photo is a collective vintage store that contains many amazing collections, from games to music to cameras. Coming into the store transported me into a new dimension. Because of people's lack of interest towards vintage items, it's saddening that an amazing store like this might no longer exist in the near future, wiping away the culture of vintage shopping in Edinburgh.
A city with a rich culture for vintage shopping has been corrupted by a widespread desire for mass production in the modern day. Isn’t it sad to see that from the countless different vintage store options, only a few operating stores remain?
It’s time to make a change.