Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Photo Essay: W. Armstrong Vintage Shop, Edinburgh

W Armstrong & Son Vintage Edinburgh

Let's make one thing clear: I love a good mannequin, even just their heads. 
This shop had me at hello. 
And no, I didn't put that magic wand there.

This was at the first branch of W. Armstrong & Son that I came across, close to the Fringe Festival's Udderbelly at Bristo Square. The manager of the shop was beyond accommodating, letting me take photos and basically have free reign of the place, before drawing a map to show me where other vintage stores were located around the city. She then gave me a discount on my purchases, which were already competitively priced! I couldn't have asked for better service.

W Armstrong & Son Vintage Edinburgh - Shirts
 The £10 paisley shirt I should have bought...

W Armstrong & Son Vintage Edinburgh - Menswear
 Some of the amazing menswear section - look at those coats. I think I've spotted a Barbour or two, but I'm drawn to the blue woolen hooded duffel on the far right. Very Submarine.

W Armstrong & Son Vintage Edinburgh - Tartan
 Staying true to its Scottish roots, here are some Celtic brooches against tartan.

W Armstrong & Son Vintage Edinburgh - Comics
 In which I get so excited at finding the changing rooms have old comic pages on the walls...

W Armstrong & Son Vintage Edinburgh Sarcophagus
 This is the larger branch of W. Armstrong, complete with sarcophagus. 

The second branch was bigger but leaned towards fancy dress or theatrical outfits. There were some fantastic pieces here and I enjoyed browsing, though there was less chance of finding something for everyday wear. Prices were very reasonable and there was even a Sale section. I would have liked to spend more time looking at the wedding dresses, having sorted and catalogued over 100 in two days during a stint of volunteering at my local charity shop a few years ago (yep, that's my claim to fame).

W Armstrong & Son Vintage Grassmarket
 I've tracked down some more mannequin heads and these ones are dressed for summer.
All these little quirks make it seem much more personal.

W Armstrong & Son Vintage Shop
Mannequins wearing cravats... I think I've died and gone to heaven.
The staff clearly know their visual merchandising without being too commercially obvious.

[All images my own].

There's also now a concession in the Edinburgh branch of Miss Selfridge, as the manager was telling me. I think this is an excellent way of getting local vintage into the spotlight when it can be hard to compete with the bustling trade of Princes Street. Good on W. Armstrong & Son for spotting a gap in the market. 

Branch #1:14 Teviot Place, EH1 2QZ.
Branch #2: 83 The Grassmarket, EH1 2HJ.
Branch #3 (which I didn't visit): 64-66 Clerk Street, EH8 9JB.
Or you can buy vintage online from their website.

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