The London Antique and Vintage Textile Fair offered visitors a treasure trove of goods while also showcasing some of the young talent that The Textile Society’s bursaries support.
It took place at Chelsea Old Town Hall on October 9, one of two fairs the society holds every year (the other one is in Manchester), and 40 dealers exhibited.
Traditional textiles flew off the stands. Lucy Farmer and Peter Cox from World Basket, Somerset, specialise in vintage and antique textiles from central Asia, and found that there was a particular hunger for Afghan Chapans, as well as Persian and Uzbek pieces, which sold for between £200-400 each.
Aishvarya Gadhvi, who offered vintage and hand-woven rugs from Western India for a special fair price of £100-200, enjoyed lively interest.
Tanya Burne from Running Stitches had similar success with her Bengali Nakshi Kantha quilts. By the end of the day she had sold all but one of the eight that she brought. Each went for £160 and she said “everyone that comes here has a real passion for proper antique textiles and there are very discerning customers”.
Footfall was good at this staging with nearly 500 people attending, an increase of nearly 25% since the same event last year.
Dealer Hannah Whyman from Gloucestershire described the buyers as “private collectors rather than dealers so really people are buying for themselves”. One of her big sales was some French embroidered chateau length curtains that went to an interior designer for £650.
Also from Gloucestershire was dealer Polly Lyster who specialises in antique linens and hemps that she dyes with an antique dye pallet to reproduce the original. They continue to attend the Textile Society fairs because of “the quality of the fair and a very well-informed clientele who know what they’re looking for”.
One of these buyers was Olivia Davenport, who discovered the event on Instagram. Davenport used to work with silks but now just enjoys textiles. She bought five cushions from Dyeworks for £480.
Among the international exhibitors was Claude Leguen from Maison Bleu Lin. She said that she usually comes over to the UK for the Kempton Racecourse fairs, but some of her clientele will come to see her only in this location. Quite a few of them had stopped at her stand by the time she spoke to ATG. One of them is Stelios Hawa, the buyer for designer vintage at Liberty. He had returned to enquire further about a red curtain from a manor house in Brittany and after some bargaining, purchased it for £350.
Rose Carr from Angelica’s Vintage, which sells mainly costume textiles, likes having the opportunity to create a curated stand. She also said that “there are not many specialist textile fairs around anymore where you can find niche, top-quality pieces and it’s important to keep these events going”. Proceeds from the fair go in part to funding student bursaries.
Six recipients stood at the fair displaying their work. Among them was Tomoyo Tsurumi, who said “the Textile Society was really helpful for me to reach out to a different group of people”. Also showing was Chloe Grieve. She said that the money from the society has allowed her to explore her interest in using textiles to make healthcare spaces less clinical and sterile through adding colour.
Both the Manchester and London fairs will be back next year. More information will follow on the Textile Society website.