The Vintage Festival is in full swing! From Vintage clothing, jewelry and household items stalls, DJs and bands

paying homage to the 1920’s all the way through to the 1980’s, Merchant City in Glasgow has been packed and is, in full honesty, buzzing with great atmosphere. Seriously, it’s addictive.

So we’re here to give you a little insight into how the Vintage Festival began, with Wayne Hemingway’s help and what to expect when you’re there too!

In 2007, Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway, along with the Hemingway Design team (which is made up of second generation Hemingways now as well as other designers of great talent and creativity) developed a concept for a festival. Wayne Hemingway explains:

‘We had the idea that there was lots of mini vintage fairs taking place but there wasn’t something that brought, you know, music, fashion, art, design, film and food together. And there’s a great design in all of that and doing it decade by decade. So we wanted to refer to what size of the market might be interested in something that did that. We looked at all the different communities; communities that were into swing dancing; communities that were in to Rock n Roll; communities that were interested in going to Soul events and we realised that it was enormous. That kind of research was done with the University [of Wolverhampton] to make sure we weren’t jumping into something that just didn’t have the legs to become big.

So the idea of the Vintage Festival was born and researched on for a further three years in order for the British creativity of the 20th century to be celebrated and brought to the public in a, let’s face it, better and bigger way.

Now, Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway had already created their own label in 1981, Red Or Dead, and were extremely successful before the Vintage Festival came about. Beginning in the Camden Market, it grew and eventually won awards, such as the British Fashion Council’s Streetstyle Designer of the year, not once, not twice but three years in a row (from 1996-1998).


Image from HemingwayDesign, Red or Dead

In 1999, Red Or Dead was sold and they began their new venture: HemingwayDesign, which is a design agency that builds brands, design products as well as being interior designers as well as specialising in being urban designers too – especially for old estates which have the potential to be turned into affordable yet striking homes.

And that’s how the Vintage Festival was born, from all this experience, talent and knowledge gained, the idea struck them. And they went with it:

‘We had been researching it for three years and you never really know if anything is going to be a success until you do it. But, yeah, people loved it. People continue to like it and it works.’

It won Best New Festival category that year and continued to grow, even being asked to curate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012:

It was an honour to be asked to curate something as big as that and, yeah, that came out of the blue a little bit. It was like a Vintage Festival but apart from having different angles to it; lot’s of tongue in cheek stuff and a bit of mickey taking.
There’s not much point in doing things if we don’t have fun. If you’re doing things and the team are all happy and you’re making people happy then you are doing the right thing.’


Miss Mary & The Mr Rights

The Vintage Festival is something that people do really love. It’s already had It’s Let It Rock event yesterday in the new club Wild Cabaret (seriously folks – strong cocktails there, yum!).

This was successfully curated by DJ Tojo, who is extremely knowledgeable about 50’s music, and saw bands like Miss Mary and The Mr Rights and The FretTones and vinyl collectors DJ Tojo himself, Keb Darge and Snowboy as dance tutors from Rock Till U Drop Jive Club (Ray and Nicky) taught folk how to jive!

Last night also saw the Soul Casino, taking place in the Old Fruitmarket of Merchant Square and was sold out last year of the festival in Glasgow, recreating the sounds and style of the classic 70s soul club and 80s disco scenes with DJs Eddie Piller, Mark Linton, Snowboy and Wayne & Jack Hemingway.


‘There is a genuine love for vintage and people who want to show their love for things…most of this stuff is timeless, like a brilliantly designed car or a brilliant film, these are things that stand the test of time and there are people who want to show them off.

There are so many angles to the festival. In terms of the dance events, tonight sees the Torch Club – very popular, as it was sold out last year too, and no wonder! – bringing an evening of glamour from the 1930’s and 40’s to life with period cocktails, a chance to learn how to dance by expert tuition of dance teachers and historians – the Fly Right Dance Co–  and musical entertainment curated by Snowboy.

‘We’ve brought a band over from Czech Republic too called The Bratislava Hot Serenaders, they’re unbelievable. They really do take you back – you feel like you’re in the 1940’s, so I’d just recommend to everybody to come and see that at the Torch Club.

Along with the dance and music events, there are the vintage stalls throughout the streets surrounding Merchant Square, selling vintage fashion, accessories, home items and creative goodies and free entertainment is available of course. Since the festival is also going on at the same time as the Commonwealth Games, it has also had an affect:

‘In Merchant Square we’ve got a whole line of DJs as well as a few from Commonwealth Games countries and so, cool music out of those countries like Reggea, Ska, Nigerian Funk will be playing. You can get your hair and makeup all done while that’s going on.’

So if you haven’t been already, at least jump up and see it before it’s done, you never know, you might be transported to the past quicker than you thought and enjoy every single minute of it!

Judith Lodwick


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