A few weeks back an email dropped into my inbox inviting me along to a vintage kilo sale hosted by Bristol Textile Recyclers. I have been buying vintage fabric and clothes for over fifteen years and attended all kinds of events...but never a kilo sale. I was intrigued and happily accepted BTR's invite, we headed up to Bristol for the November Fashion Salvage Kilo Sale.
If you've never heard of Bristol Textile Recyclers, I'll give you a bit of background info. They divert a staggering twenty tonnes of textiles from landfill daily. The majority of textiles thrown out by households end up in landfill, with Defra estimating that 1.5 million tonnes a year of unwanted clothing is eventually land filled. Textile recycling is a great way to save resources and if clothes can be reused rather than dumped in the ground, then it's better for the environment all round.
You can see the huge amounts of textiles BTR deal with as soon as you walk into their warehouse. All around the edges of the kilo sale space are bales of clothes stacked up from floor to ceiling. BTR hand sort all their clothes and have a dedicated team of over seventy staff carrying out this mammouth task.
I didn't know what to expect from a BTR kilo sale and have to admit, was slightly cynical about BTR's ability to sift through all those clothes and pull out genuine vintage items. I needn't have worried, the first crate I looked in turned up two beautiful skirts made by Jaeger and Eastex - and the finds just kept coming. I spotted lots of genuine vintage clothes and plenty of modern retro pieces from high street stores. The BTR team really do know their stuff and they must employ some eagle eyed staff.
My husband was in leather jacket heaven and tried on dozens. I would say there are less clothes for men in the crates, but there were still plenty of finds to be had if you are prepared to look for them. And that's the main thing about a kilo sale, you need to roll up your sleeves and get delving. I was cold when we arrived at the BTR warehouse, after about thirty minutes I had soon warmed up. I've always loved looking for vintage finds and don't mind getting stuck in when faced with a pile of textiles.
I had been unsure as to whether I should bring our seven year old daughter along to the sale. I wondered if it would be boring for her. Again I didn't need to worry, she was in her element. Every time I turned around she had a different hat on, or coat, or scarf. Watching her dig deep into each crate made me realise that a BTR kilo sale is like getting your hands on the biggest dressing up box you could imagine. All around me were groups of friends arm-deep in clothes, pulling out hats, tops and coats and having a great time trying them on. You never know what you're going to find and that's part of the attraction of a BTR kilo sale.
It costs just £1 to get in and they provide free tea and coffee in the staff room (which doubles as a changing room). The best thing to do is grab as many clothes as you can fit into the plastic sack BTR give you and then head off to the changing room. You can sift through your finds at a more leisurely pace in there, have a cuppa and try on anything you feel like purchasing. Again, the staff room was full of groups of people enjoying themselves, trying on quirky clothes and swapping their finds with other people if they didn't want them.
So, what did we find at the kilo sale? Here are some photos of our best finds.
A beautiful velvet Jaeger skirt featuring a stunning floral pattern, photos don't do it justice.
Another velvet skirt featuring a pattern of falling leaves, this time by Eastex.
This pretty skirt isn't vintage, but it has a definite retro vibe to it...
As I mentioned above, our daughter came away from the kilo sale with the most finds. Her dressing up box is currently over flowing...
She found this beautiful pale green faux fur stole and has worn it over the Disney princess dress she also bagged at the sale.
Also spotted by my daughter:
Fab vintage Junior Miss dress from St Michael
Gorgeous scarlet red velvet dress
Pale teal party dress with sequin detail
A cobalt blue ice skating dress
Beautiful handmade Arran knit cardigan
A selection of hats (not pictured) including a vintage Kangol number
I am over the moon with everything we managed to salvage. It feels great to think these clothes will have a new life with in our wardrobes and not end up in landfill. I would highly recommend going along to a BTR Fashion Salvage Kilo Sale, we will definitely be back. The next one is due to take place on Saturday 10th December 2016. The best way to keep up to date with BTR events is to head to their Facebook page.
Disclaimer: Bristol Textile Recyclers offered me entry and 5kg of textiles for free in return for a review of their kilo sales. All opinions and photos are my own and I will definitely be back as a paying customer in the future!