The Fashion of Fabric – Selvedge Bath Spring Fair
Last weekend I attended Selvedge‘s Spring Fair in Bath. For those of you who don’t know what Selvedge is a magazine that embodies the true passion of textiles and fashion through artisanship.
“[We are] a magazine that acknowledges the significance of textiles as a part of everyone’s story. We are surrounded by cloth from the cradle to the grave and by exploring our universal emotional connection to fibre we share the stories and values that mean the most to us.” – Selvedge Magazine About Us
Now, obviously, this is everything that I think, feel and love about fashion, fabric and journalism, so of course I jumped at the chance to go to one of their live events! Even better it was in my city, literally just done the road. How exciting.
The event itself was quite small. Being used to big comic cons it was a bit of a culture shock, but the quality of the stalls and the products and pieces on show was overwhelming, that I think if there had been more I wouldn’t have made it out of there with my bank card in tact. It was a treasure trove of delights. I found everything from African inspired fabric, to Japanese haori, to vintage 1920s silk and back again. Honestly I could have walked away decked out looking like a Scandinavian goat herd.
Honestly, I wasn’t entirely sure what was going to on show, or what people would be selling. The wide range was actually perfect and gave an eclectic feel to the fair, though the love for craft binded all of the exhibitors together overall so it never felt disjointed or confusing as you explored.
Unsurprisingly, the place was packed; more surprising – and to my great pleasure – was the sheer range of different people attending. I will be honest and say that I thought it was probably going to be a lot of nice, middle aged women (not there is anything wrong with that at all, those are the women who show the rest us the way), but I was happily proved wrong. I mean, there were lots of nice, middle aged women, being supremely excellent, but there were also lots of families getting involved and people – of all genders – in their teens and 20s pawing their way through the fabrics on sale.
This range of people meant that an eclectic group of outfits and styles were working their way round the show. As someone who likes to explore and innovate their own style it was inspiring to see so many ideas and styles that I had never seen let alone thought of trying out myself. Beautiful screen printed silk shirts, with images of blue prints and hand painted colours, a collection of handsewn Himalayan shepherds coats and effortlessly simple linen summer dresses, are just of a few of the things that tempted me, and will definitely be looking to adding to my overly full wardrobe. Plus I’ve always wanted to try silk screen printed.
As someone who promotes and enjoys the handmade way of life, it was really gratifying to see my own and younger generations turning their hands to it. It’s all too easy to buy off the high street and never give a second thought to alternative and artisan fashions. Encountering other people who have the a love affair with hand making as me is rare, and for once I was in room with 100s of them, and they were all different and brilliant in their own ways. And now I’m waxing lyrical, but the show was definitely geared towards getting people involved.
As you walked into the venue there were loads of tables laid out with fabric, scissors and, what I can only describe as, posh pipe cleaners, for people to make their own pom pom flowers! The tables were a microcosm of the rest of the show, it seemed like everyone was having a go. I think it’s great to have interactive parts of events like this, otherwise walking around tables can get a bit stagnant, especially if you’re under 12, which a lot of the pom pom creators were.
Being held in the Assembly Rooms, with their rather wonderful Tea Room and Fashion Museum was a stroke of genius, combating the smaller nature of the show. You take a stroll around the wares, then sip down a pot of tea and pretend to be eating a piece of yummy, jammy sponge cake delicately, before heading back to pick up the pieces you wanted to get those, now sticky, fingers on. And if you really wanted to you could even get a joint ticket with the Fashion Museum, which is always worth a punt in my humble opinion.
Overall the event was lovely. The atmosphere was welcoming, the show beautiful, the people innovative, interesting and incredibly talented. I would definitely try and get to another one, though I think it would be more fun to go with other people, though that may just have been because I was, possibly still ridding my system of absinthe from the night before. For all those lovers of fabric, fashion and fascination I would 100% go to one of these events if you can, if not try and grab yourselves a copy of Selvedge so it’s not just me crying over the beauty of it.
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Written by Holly Rose Swinyard