Are our local charity shops becoming too greedy?

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A recent article I read claimed that charity shops were beginning to become almost as expensive as high street stores, which obviously sell brand new items rather than previously loved clothing. Call it what you want previously loved or other people’s cast offs I have always believed that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure and I am proud to say that some of my greatest finds have been purchased in charity shops.

Some people say that modern day charity shops have abandoned their traditional clientele in a bid to become more appealing to modern society and modern tastes. This new approach however does seem to be working with charity shops now outnumbering shoe shops on the high street and charity shop chains such as Oxfam reporting sales of £90 million in 2011, which is an all-time record.

After reading the article I took to Facebook to see what others thought and a few did agree particularly those living in Belfast where charity shops have become more like exclusive boutiques. As always though Fermanagh is that little bit behind and things haven’t changed much here in terms of charity shops. Although they are trying to reach out to new clientele I have to say that the majority of customer’s in Fermanagh charity shops are older people just looking for a bargain.

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The shopping experience in a Belfast or any city based charity shop is completely different to the experience I feel in Enniskillen. I almost feel intimidated sometimes by other shoppers as though they are questioning my motives and why I am invading their territory. For this reason I feel that nothing much has changed in our local charity shops whereas in Belfast and other cities prices have gone up because quite frankly they can afford to charge more due to the calibre of customer. Nowadays a charity shop in Belfast will charge more than the likes of Primark even though the items are second hand.

For now I don’t believe our local charity shops are at all greedy in fact they are quite the opposite, they could probably charge more for many of the items they sell. I don’t think our local charity shops will change any time soon or at least until they modernise, appeal to more fashionable customers and get in a few more exclusive items but then for me the whole fun is in searching until you find that one special item.


Fermanagh then and now

Who remembers these bad boys?

Who remembers these bad boys?

I feel very lucky to be able to look back and see how far Fermanagh has come in terms of style and the range of outlets we now have. I don’t mean to sound like one of those people that says ‘in my day’ but all joking aside in the not so distant past Fermanagh had very little to offer the fashion conscious. If you wanted a specific trend you either had to go to Belfast to get it or make it yourself.

I am lucky enough to have lived my latter teens in the noughties and all the latest styles were readily available to me; however we certainly didn’t have the same choices then as we do now. In my primary school years, a time when I used to record the top 40 off the radio, there was no such thing as a DVD, the only Chinese available was in Enniskillen and you were nobody if you didn’t have a Tamagotchi. I remember when Erneside was half the size it is now and the only clothing shops we had to choose from were Exhibit, Tammy Girl and at a later stage New Look. Dunnes Stores used to be somewhere you dreaded going to as your mother forced you into sensible jumpers and trousers, not like now where you can get quality trend led fashion.

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There were no famous high-street names like Monsoon, River Island or Topshop but somehow we managed to survive. In my early teens I don’t remember anyone complaining about our lack of stores but at the same time that was the 90s where you were either a Goth, a grunger or lived in sports gear. I chose the latter and me and my friends would rarely be seen without our adidas poppers.

Nowadays we have so much choice that it’s not necessary to travel up to Belfast as we have most of the main high street brands and plenty of individual trendy stores like Walker Clothing in Irvinestown and Calle 33 in Lisnaskea to give us a bit more uniqueness.

Our local hairdressers and beauticians offer exactly the same treatments and techniques as the big city salons and in fact at half the price. I get angry when people class Fermanagh as backward and although we have a bit of catching up to do we can give any city a run for its money in terms of style. There are plenty of individuals in Fermanagh rocking their own unique sense of style and I find it refreshing to see individuals up the town standing out from the crowd rather than crowds of people in Belfast all trying to be something different.

Free to be you and me

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As a child I always loved Dr Seuss books but back then I always thought of them as funny little stories about strange characters in strange outfits in a weird and wonderful world however in adult life I can see the great life lessons they teach not only kids but also adults.

Since February I have taken a stand to try to be more positive and learn lessons from the law of attraction in that you reap what you sow, you get back what you give out and taking a more positive view on life will make you happier in the long run.

I have taken the same stance in what I wear because in my view if you put thought and effort into your appearance then that will give out positive vibes about you and who you are. It can be difficult to live a positive life and be who you want to be when you are surrounded by negative people. I sometimes find Fermanagh people and in fact people in Northern Ireland in general to be quite negative, contrary to what statistics say about us being happy people. Maybe that’s just our culture or the way we have been raised or maybe we are all happy being negative.
We should all be able to get up in the morning and put on whatever we like and whatever makes us feel good without the doubt in our minds about what people will think. It is those thoughts and fears of how others view us that hold us back from expressing ourselves in the way we really want to or hold us back from who we really want to be. I am not saying let’s all go out dressed in ball gowns every day but not to follow others, not to wear what we think others want us to wear not to impress anyone but ourselves.

So people of Fermanagh in your life and how you dress and express yourselves please take a little advice from the great Dr Seuss! “Today you are you, that is truer than true, there is no one alive that is youer than you. Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

Allis Vintage Trend Report – Global inspiration


Spring is on its way and Allis Vintage are ready and waiting for it! We can’t wait to kiss goodbye to long dark evenings and the chill in the air.


One of spring summer 2014’s upcoming trends is Tribal, safari, ethnic or whatever you want to call it. On the world’s catwalk’s designer were thinking globally in terms of their prints. They weren’t just influenced by the obvious African inspired prints but also Asia, the Americas and also even Europe.

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Allis Vintage have their own unique take on this trend with one of a kind and a few handmade items from the past brought to life today with a modern twist. Get your own unique version of today’s trends from a past life at Allis Vintage.

Do it the Allis Vintage way


Allis Vintage are all about not only bringing you one of a kind unique and fabulous items of clothing to make your wardrobe that little bit different to everyone else’s but we also strive to keep up to date with whats going on in the world of fashion.

As much as we believe that people should not be ruled by trends but instead ruled by their heart’s desire we do believe that is important to present our vintage items in an appealing fashion forward way. We understand that many people are put off by vintage clothing purely because it’s pre-loved and ‘old fashioned’. Allis Vintage however strive to promote Vintage as a good choice for fashion forward fans of all things unique.


Owner Sharon Irvine (me!) selects each item of clothing with a particular woman in mind. She is effortless, chic and timeless and is always one step ahead in the style stakes. I don’t have any specific age group in mind when I select my range but I do believe the right person will find the right item that suits them. To quote Sex and the City I believe that Vintage is like Couture if it doesn’t fit perfectly its a disaster! I hope you enjoy my collection.

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Spring summer 2014 the Allis Vintage way!


So we’ve seen how they did it on the fashion capital’s catwalks and how this has translated to the high street but how will you choose to wear this season’s styles?

Although I always keep track of what is going on on the catwalks, like designers I prefer to set the trends myself. I prefer to do my own thing and although I do follow the occasional trend just to get in on the action I prefer to select my line of vintage clothing myself on what I think people will love.


I always select timeless pieces that will never go out of style, items that will help you stand out from the crowd, special one of a kind pieces that will make you feel as special as they are. Every item that I select give me a tingle of excitement and when I style them on my mannequin and photograph them for sale (although my photography skills are quite poor) I give each item of clothing a vintage name to match it’s hidden personality.

Giving each piece of clothing a name not only helps me to differentiate each one and helps me to remember them but also makes them that little bit more special to me, almost like naming children. The best bit for me is actually seeing my clothes on people. When I buy in a new item I always imagine what it will look like on a person what they would wear with it and what they will wear it to.


For Spring Summer 2014 I have selected some new (old) items from 1960s, 70s and 80s which are fun, bright, a little bit whimsical and a lot of quirky. As always I will be getting more stock in through out the season but I hope you love what I have selected for now! All items are for sale so get in touch!


Miley’s new look

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Love her or hate her there is no denying that Miley Cyrus has made a name for herself in 2013 and it looks like there is no stopping her. She has been in the spotlight from a very young age having a famous father and with a God Mother like Dolly Parton there was no way she would be a wall flower.

I recently read an interview with Miley Cyrus where she made the very valid point that from a young age she was told how to dress how to act and songs were chosen for her. She felt almost like a pretty puppet who record companies and producers manipulated to fit whatever they felt would be popular with the public. She was never that doe eyed, blonde girly girl and her inner tom boy was crying to get out. Hanna Montana was a fictional character and not at all like the real Miley.

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It can be difficult to try and find who you really are when you have had all the decisions in your life made for you including the little things like what you wear each day.  It is not surprising that Miley decided to take things into her own hands and like so many other child stars she wanted to get as far away from her sweet innocent image as possible with a new provocative image.

Although I don’t agree with everything she does and cannot stand it when she sticks her tongue out for photos I don’t understand why the public are so up in arms about her behaviour. So she stripped off for one of her videos; but so have many other pop stars such as Britney Spears, Katie Perry and Rihanna to name but a few. I don’t remember a backlash of disgust when Katie Perry wore nothing but a pink wig and some carefully placed cotton wool in her California Girls video.

As a recording artist I can see Miley going far as there is no denying that she has the nerve and ambition to get to where she wants to be. As the saying goes all press is good press and in recent press the word is that Miley has bagged herself a new job as the face of Marc Jacobs. Having seen some of the Spring Summer 2014 campaign images I can tell you she looks amazing. Her look is transformed into a slightly more feminine version of herself with her usual bleach blonde quiff tussled and darkened and her brash makeup made more neutral and natural and the clothes aren’t bad either! Who knows what 2014 will hold for Miley and now with a top fashion designer at her beckon call perhaps she will rethink her wardrobe!Pic 4


Does size matter?

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When I worked in the retail industry part of my job was to merchandise the store, which included dressing the window mannequins and therefore helping to entice customers into the store. When I was dressing the mannequins I often thought about how unrealistic they looked, not just because they were made of plastic with no faces but because they seemed so much smaller than the average sized woman. The most popular sizes we sold were 12s, 14s and 16s and we always kept an extra range of these sizes in the stock room.

Catwalk designers always use size four or size six models to display their designs in what they feel is the best way despite alienating  potential customers.  Designers like their clothes to look as flat as possible and if they could send their clothes down the runway on hangers they would. You have to remember however that despite needing sales to keep their business functioning designers are artists who care deeply about how their clothes are displayed and how they look on people and the truth is the majority of catwalk designers feel their clothes look better on smaller models and in fact many don’t even cater for ‘plus size’.

The high street tends to be much more welcoming in terms of who they cater for however they still choose to display their latest looks on smaller than average models. This may however be all set to change as High Street giants Debenhams launch their new size 16 mannequins in their Oxford Street Store and this is set to become a permanent fixture as they roll out this initiative across the UK. The move has been backed by Equalities Minister Jo Swinson who believes that the fashion industry puts out a negative image that there is only one way to be beautiful, yet nine out of ten people say that they would prefer to see a broader range of body shapes in the media and advertising.

Mark Fast Catwalk - London Fashion Week

Debenhams hope that by starting the trend other high street stores will catch on and also begin to display their clothing in order to target a more realistic audience and perhaps this may also catch on with the designers. Mark Fast in fact has used plus size models in several of his catwalk shows and this was met with mixed emotions. He was praised by the media and women’s movements however was criticised by the fashion media and by his peers (other fashion designers).


Although I feel a range of different sized models is a good thing at the end of the day people will always need clothes and will always buy fashion. Sometimes I feel if it’s not broken why fix it. Most people are open minded enough to know that if you try something on its going to look completely different from one size to the next therefore I don’t believe that changing mannequin sizes will have much impact on sales or even peoples self-esteem.