Vintage at Goodwood by Natasha Thompson.
I must admit, I’ve had my reservations from the start. Right from the moment when they wheeled out that universally irritating celebrity known as Lily Allen. Young, rich, famous and by all accounts a pain in the butt. Best known amongst the vintage community for out-bidding everyone else on all the best clothes at auction. Admittedly the closest I have ever got to Lily Allen was when she nonchalantly flicked cigarette ash on me as I passed her huge chauffeur driven four wheel drive on my bike one day last summer. But I think this tells me enough.
Vintage at Goodwood is a new festival. A new festival afloat in the sea of other festivals now populating British weekends throughout the summer months. Not a weekend goes by without at least two or three wonderful festivals that I know about to chose from, and many others that I don’t. Trying to find a niche market that hasn’t already spent as much as they can afford on summer festival frivolities is surely not an easy thing to do. Not surprisingly Vintage at Goodwood hasn’t sold out in it’s first year.
Lily Allen in a vintage dress by Cat Sims.
So, they’ve done a notably huge amount of advertising – plastering everything from Bobbin Bicycles to bus billboards with the distinctive Vintage at Goodwood posters, which proclaim a festival that places as much emphasis on art, fashion, film and design as it does on music. All well and good, it’s a trend pioneered by the likes of Latitude and Secret Garden Party, but I’ve yet to fathom exactly how the mix works this time round. The only emphasis I can see has been on ‘curating’ a very large shopping area: even John Lewis gets a presence on their old-fashioned High Street.
A Vintage at Goodwood poster near Brick Lane.
And who, exactly, is the “glamping” crowd they want to attract? “Vintage” as a lifestyle choice is something wholeheartedly embraced by people on a budget who like to champion an individualistic, upcycling, DIY aesthetic. Many of my readers for instance. Why, I’ve been wearing Chazza clothes since I could walk into a shop. Beyond Retro is my local store. Okay, since from about 1999 I’ve mainly favoured clothes from the 1980s over anything earlier, but today even this most silly of decades gets the Vintage treatment at Vintage at Goodwood.
But the Goodwood Estate also hosts Goodwood Revival – a glamourous motoring and aviation event aimed at people with a little bit more money than your average Vintage Enthusiast of the kind I speak of. It’s been written about in posh supermarket Waitrose’s own magazine, and fawned over by the right wing press. “They are used to catering to Goodwood Revival, who are basically mostly very wealthy, vintage car/plane owners… and where people ONLY seem to care how much money/how many stately homes you have.” This is clearly a festival with pretensions to be more than the mere stamping ground of a bunch of fashionable east end types. And yet many of these very people are the ones making the festival happen. Thrifty vintage enthusiasts fill the vintage shopping area with their stalls. They’re volunteering their time to be stewards of boudoirs. Vintage bloggers have written glowing posts about how much they look forward to the festival, thereby ensuring there is huge amounts of hype online to compliment the more traditional advertising. But are these very same people being looked after by the corporate wheels of Goodwood, Freud Comm and co?
Illustration by June Chanpoomidle.
At Amelia’s Magazine we’ve always tried to support as many small festivals as possible, especially the new ones, the ones focused on green issues and the ones that will appeal to our readership. You’d think, given this quote in the Telegraph (soz) today, that I would be the ideal kind of press to invite along to Vintage at Goodwood. “Vintage fashion is a win-win. It’s about upcycling, recycling, thriftiness and great design. I felt this was the right time to celebrate it and show people how good vintage links music, fashion and film.” Does this sound anything like the kind of stuff we promote on this blog, day in day out? Only this week we’ve published interviews with Think, Act, Vote and Bobbin Bicycles, both of whom have a presence at Vintage at Goodwood that gets a mention in our blogs.
Unhappy at the way that the press team for Vintage at Goodwood dismissed me without so much as a by your leave, and uneasy about the complaints I noted on the Vintage at Goodwood Facebook site regarding a lack of transparency over ticket pricing a few weeks ago, I decided to dig around for a bit more information. Someone, somewhere clearly has money. Freud Comm are the huge corporate PR agency responsible for the massive amounts of press you see. They also look after Nike, Asda, KFC, Sky, the Olympics and drinks giant Diageo, who has close ties to the festival. Cheap they cannot be to hire.
I am small fry to Freud, as are all those other eager bloggers. Freud doesn’t even have a twitter feed. Or a blog. They are beyond such things. But they also don’t understand the power of such things. Or maybe they would not be so dismissive of those with such close ties to the market they are trying to reach.
Glamping by Jessica Sharville.
As soon as I started to ask around I discovered a lot of unhappiness… and I was only scratching the surface. Bloggers that have gushed about Vintage at Goodwood for months had applied for press passes only to be turned down this, the week before – forced to purchase their own tickets to experience the festival they so much wanted to write about. Even seasoned journalists writing for big websites have been turned down. Now I’m no marketing genius, but it seems to me that if you have a new festival, and you haven’t sold out, it makes no sense at all to turn down any enthusiastic journos. After all, it costs the organisers nothing to let people in for free, and our eagerness should be appreciated because it doesn’t come without costs to us when we don’t have huge expense accounts to fall back on (travel and food soon mount up). Presuming that Vintage at Goodwood would like to continue next year, surely it’s a wise idea to maximise your chances of positive press from day one? For this very reason I will always send a press copy of Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration to any blogger that asks, no matter how well read their website is, or not. I appreciate that you want to spend time writing about my project. (ask away)
But there’s more…. getting Vintage at Goodwood off the ground has not been without its casualties along the way. And here you’ll have to bear with me if I adopt an air of secrecy – many of these people are still going to Vintage at Goodwood anyway – but tell me this, does this sound like a happy bunny? “It is a real shame as I have not met one person who is genuinely excited to go. Most are curious about how bad it will be and want to see it fail due to the poor behaviour from the organisers.”
Vintage illustration by Nathalie Laurence.
As Vintage at Goodwood have decided to focus on the shopping aspect of the event the costs of stalls have spiralled, well out of the reach of many young Vintage Stockists. A key curator has dropped out. One Vintage Enthusiast who shall remain nameless told me that “It’s all a big money making sham.” Many things will cost more (on top of the ticket price) during the festival. Another told me “I may as well rent a shop in Brighton for a month for the price they were asking for a pitch the size of a stamp.” I find all of this desperately sad. As a way of life Vintage is not about this. I understand the need for a new festival to break even, but at the expense of all those who help out along the way? It’s just not right.
Another quote: “I have heard nothing but bad things which is so sad as I have high hopes for the event.” I really wish I was able to get along to Vintage at Goodwood to make a judgement on it myself. As a concept it sounds great. Many many good friends will be attending, including Tatty Devine, Supermarket Sarah, Bobbin Bicycles, Think, Act, Vote… the list goes on. I would have loved to have covered the green lectures and meet the people who attend in all their fabulous finery. Vintage as a lifestyle is something I wholeheartedly support. As are festivals. Can you imagine a better bunch to photograph, illustrate and talk about for Amelia’s Magazine?
Wayne Hemmingway (he’s behind Vintage at Goodwood) by Gareth Hopkins.
Sadly it is not to be. I can’t afford to pay for a ticket, especially given the time it takes me to write a festival up, which usually approaches a week and bearing in mind that no one pays me to write. It’s also very tiring (as anyone working the festival circuit will tell you), which is why I’ve stayed at home in London for the past few weekends – although I had set aside time to visit Vintage at Goodwood and see if it lived up to the hype. Instead I hope to hear from others who are going, fingers crossed. And do tell me your thoughts too, especially after the event. I hope you have a truly wonderful time if you are going, either as a punter or a contributor. Everyone. But organisers, remember this. Look after your team. They are what will make Vintage at Goodwood what it is, not the rich people glamping it up in luxury teepees and yurts. Don’t forget what Vintage as a lifestyle truly means…
* I did make it to VAG in the end… My review of Vintage at Goodwood is now online and you can read it here.*
Bobbin Bicycles, cat sims, Gareth Hopkins, Jessica Sharville, John Lewis, June Chanpoomidole, lily allen, Natasha Thompson, Nathalie Laurence, recycling, Supermarket Sarah, Tatty Devine, Think Act Vote, Upcycling, Vintage at Goodwood
- An interview with Bobbin Bicycles.
- Vintage at Goodwood Review, by vintage enthusiast and fashion blogger Maria Domican
- Vintage at Goodwood: Festival Review
- Festival Preview: Field Day
- Get ready for winter cycling with the new Bobbin Bicycle workshop