Susan Hayward, 16 Post Office Avenue, a touch of vintage style in Southport

Behind the famous Lord Street in Southport is the home to a hidden gem for lovers of all things vintage, as Amanda Griffiths discovers.

A rare 1940s evening gown by Christian Dior and items by Givenchy, Louis Feraud, Suzy Perette and Susan Small are among the treasures to be found in a vintage shop off the beaten track in Southport.

The shop, spread over three levels focuses on all things vintage, from homeware to ladies’ and gents’ clothing – they even have Elton John’s boots.

‘I bought them off a guy who got them at one of Elton’s charity auctions,’ says Andy Carroll, who runs the men’s section of the shop. ‘They’ve hardly been worn.’

The shop’s name combines the name of the founder with the address – it’s Susan Hayward 16 Post Office. With a love of all things vintage, Susan decided to open her own business in October 2010, a move taken in spite of tough economic times.

‘If you’re going to open a business you might as well open when times are hard,’ she says. ‘If you can survive that then you can survive anything.

‘The main criteria for anything in the shop is its authenticity, quality and the fact it’s in the best condition it could possibly be for something that could be over 70 years old.’

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Susan aims to have something for all age groups and budgets. ‘I have young girls who come in with their pocket money so there are simpler dresses for around �24,’ she says. ‘Our highest prices are between �300 and �500 for something like a Balenciaga coat we have.’

Why has vintage become so popular? ‘I think most women want to claim back their individuality, not buying things from the high street that everyone else is wearing.

‘It’s also the nostalgia. People always look to the past for comfort. But it’s also the way the clothes look and how they were cut as well as the quality of the fabric. They were made to make a woman look beautiful.’

The shop sells pieces from as far back as the 1920s and 1930s but many of the fabrics from those eras have become quite fragile over time and so aren’t wearable today. The majority of items are from the 1940s and 1950s, and we stop around the 1970s and 1980s. We’re not a charity shop.’

Andy says: ‘It’s all about wear-ability. ‘We’re not a museum, the point is to find clothes that complement a woman’s figure and make her feel amazing.

‘We travel far and wide for our stock. It’s about having an eye and knowing how to root things out. It’s not something just anyone can do – there’s no one way of sourcing. It’s not like you can go to a wholesalers.

‘I do get some funny looks when I’m rummaging through women’s dresses but I don’t care. The best thing for me is because I love design I can appreciate a well cut dress as much as a suit.

‘And speaking for menswear, you can buy a 1950s Harris Tweed suit here which will last a lot longer, and at a fraction of the price as one bought for �150-200 on the high street.’

Andy and Susan are holding a vintage fashion show at The Temperance Institute in London Street, Southport in aid of charity on Sunday 7th October.

Visit the Susan Hayward, 16 Post Office Avenue facebook page

Get the look

Vintage shops across the north include:

My Vintage, Darwen – hand-picked clothing for men and women from around the world

Decades, Blackburn – original antique/vintage clothing and accessories

Rose & Lee, Bury – specialising in shabby chic, vintage and antique furniture, homewares and luxury gifts

Preserved, Liverpool – started by two girls with a passion for vintage evolving from a market stall to boutique

Rags to Bitches, Manchester – award-winning boutique featuring items from the 1930s to 1980s, including some unusual, individual pieces.

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