Vintage style in Tunbridge Wells

Paula Fry swapped the life of a City trader to open up a vintage boutique and dress agency in Tunbridge Wells, and has never looked back

Vintage style in Tunbridge Wells

Paula Fry was made redundant from her role as a currency trader at Goldman Sachs, it prompted a career change that has helped revolutionise shopping in Tunbridge Wells.

The 40-something mum who lives in Southborough with husband David and their two children originally hails from Wigan and retains her northern directness and sense of humour.

It works a treat with customers at the designer dress agency and vintage boutique Love Is that she set up 18 months ago with her friend Helen Brown, also an ex-trader. They were soon joined by local girl Lynne Meek, who walked in one day and just fell in the love with Love Is. It’s hard not to.

Part of a quirky four-storey town house that dates back in parts to the 16th century, it’s now a treasure trove of dresses, jewellery, handbags, shoes – a good 70 per cent of which are the ‘pre-loved’ clothes and accessories women literally bring in every day.

Items (only seven at a time, mind) are kept for six-eight weeks and you get back 50 per cent of the selling price. It’s recycling in a ‘win-win’ way! And with more than 400 members now, that’s potentially 400 people’s different tastes in the shop at once.

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As well as dresses, vintage jewellery and handbags from the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s, you’ll maybe even spot the odd ra-ra skirt, plus some brand new pieces.

“Our vintage clothes are selected to be worn now, not for fancy dress. We’ll get 13-year-olds buying a 1980’s jumper and 80-year-olds who want something to wear for their granddaughter’s wedding but don’t want to look frumpy,” says Paula.

“The most beautiful thing we sold last year was a hat a lady had worn when her husband proposed to her. They came in together. We sold it within two days, along with the story.

“Some clients don’t shop anywhere else now. We’ve had women leaving here almost in tears, they are so euphoric. It’s nice to be unique.”

Love Is Boutique

Romary House

26 Church Road

Tunbridge Wells TN1 1JP

01892 549665