Founders Natalie Hartley, a glossy magazine fashion stylist, and Lydia McNeill, a former personal shopper and retailer, discovered a shared love of vintage fashion when they met on the school run. McNeill had built up an archive of used clothing over decades, and Hartley often mixed in vintage pieces in her shoots for the likes of Elle and the Sunday Times. They set up in business together in 2020. Their mission is: “To make people feel inspired by secondhand clothes,” says Hartley. “For a certain age group there was still a stigma around secondhand. Not so much the younger market because Depop is huge for them, but for those who wanted to look good and had money to spend, they felt perhaps others would look down on them if they said their outfit was secondhand. We wanted to change that.”
They started out on Instagram, where Hartley, a fashion influencer with more than 16,000 followers, modelled leather jackets, silk shirts and bright mohair knits. Pieces range from £40 to £350 for a leather jacket. “It’s not the clothing the fashion industry tells you to wear,” says McNeill. “We find really weird, kooky stuff and we show you how to wear it. If you put a belt with it, tweak it, cut it, you can make something look cool. There are so many good used clothes out there and we want people to be more adventurous with what they find.”
The website launched in June this year and this month they opened a long-term pop-up on Ladbroke Grove in west London. Menswear is in the offing, as is a range of upcycled pieces. Their promise is that garments will always arrive in great condition, clean and carefully packed. As Hartley says: “With us, what you see in the image is what you get.”
If you want a bold and glamorous one-off vintage look for a special occasion, make sure Darling & Vintage is on your radar. Started by another former Topshop employee, Cassie O’Neill, its website and Instagram feed are a source of colourful, statement pieces from the 1960s, 70s and 80s – from psychedelic-print house coats to candy-pink goddess gowns, wide-legged jumpsuits and flirty floral sundresses.