Secondhand style is on the rise. Susie Nelson, owner of vintage emporium Modes and More on Moreton Street, explains why.

Words by Sophia Charalambous.

 

 

The UK’s interest in secondhand fashion is on the increase.

In fact, industry reports suggest the sector could even overtake the fast-fashion market by 2029.

Finding quality vintage can often be a challenge. But this is not the case in Victoria.

Modes and More, founded by Susie Nelson, offers a stunning curated selection of designer, couture and rare vintage clothing and accessories.

Opening the door of the Moreton Street store is Susie, the poster girl for vintage fashion.

She is statuesque, with a power bob and sartorially composed to perfection.

Modes and More is an Aladdin’s cave of vintage.

Some pieces date back to the Victorian era.

The range includes both designer labels and what Susie tells me is referred to as “the great unknowns”, pieces that pre-date the 1960s when there was little big branding.

 

SUSIE’S TOP TIPS FOR BUYING VINTAGE:

 

Know your measurements

Take a tape measure too. Ignore size labels – an old size 14 is approximately a size 10 today.

If buying online –

Beware of anything called
“vintage style” or “vintagesque”. Ask for additional
images of any damage or stains etc.

Be flexible

Be prepared to make alterations.

Banker turned businesswoman

Susie, a former banker, initially started selling vintage as a side project, but quickly moved full-time into a space at Grays Antique Centre in Mayfair.

When the building was flooded she relocated to Moreton Street.

With sustainability the buzzword of 2019 and an increasing awareness about fashion being one of the most polluting industries on the planet, Susie has noticed a rise in conscious consumers.

“Buying vintage, not only do you get something more interesting, but generally the fabrics are better, the colours are nicer and it’s actually sustainable, it’s got a history and there’s a certain romance to it,” she says.

 

“Trade fairs now have a sustainable section and talks. It’s rather like ethical investment I suppose when that first kicked off. We hope people will follow it but you don’t know.

“Rather like green issues, people are aware of the damage that is happening – and because of the internet people [now] realise the state of factories in Bangladesh.

“Consumers are more aware of the damage that’s happening and the conditions that the workers live under.”

Social media influence

Social media is another avenue, Susie believes, which should be used to promote the message of vintage, “having the ‘green carpet’ instead of the ‘red carpet’,” she says.

“I think green investment is still not as far ahead as it should be.”

As we look around the store, I spot a fashion intern taking photographs of certain items for what looks to be an upcoming magazine shoot.

The shop recently featured in Harper’s Bazaar.

Famous names, theatre and film

Celebrities such as Beth Ditto and Kendall Jenner have been photographed in its attire in the last year.

Susie tells me this sort of thing happens quite regularly, alongside requests from design teams and film and theatre work.

Modes and More recently provided the frocks for Sky drama series Patrick Melrose.

Susie, who lives in Pimlico near to the shop, says she is for a more central spot.

“People say, ‘Oh there’s an empty site on South Molton Street, would you like to go back to the West End?’

“But it’s the rents and the rates and landlords seem happier to have empty shops, and because of the changes in retail, we do so much online now.

“While it would be lovely to have a huge shop in the middle of Bond Street you’ve just got to be realistic,” she says.

In between answering incessant calls on the store’s landline, Susie shows me layers of Lanvin, Chanel, Dior, Hardy Amies, YSL, Caroline Charles, Bruce Oldfield and CC41.

Each piece is as impressive as the last.

“It [fashion] does all go round in circles,” she says.

 

Modes and More is at 48 Moreton Street.

 

Find similar fashion stories in the Lifestyle section of our website.

You may like to read Dressed for Success about the fashion duo behind Ralph & Russo who have dressed the Duchess of Sussex.

Or read Green Eileen about how King’s Road fashion store Eileen Fisher has always put the environment first. 

Or read Issy’s Salon about the eco-friendly hair salon in Belgravia, styling without parabens and using biodegradable plastic. 

This article was originally published in Victoria magazine.