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Stockings and Frills - Lingerie inspired from the Pin Up Girl era of the 40's and 50's

 



 


 

 

 

Stockings and Frills - Lingerie inspired
 from the Pin Up Girl era of the 40's and 50's

www.stockingsandfrills.co.uk

 

 


Stockings and Frills was founded relatively recently by Gary Spires with a view to providing ladies with an outlet for 40s and 50s retro pinup lingerie with an authentic twist. These are modern made but based on the original designs and manufactured on the vintage machinery.

Here Digger talk to Gary about his fascination for retro and his passion for this burgeoning business.
 

 

 


 

Digger: Morning Gary.

Gary: Good morning Gary:

Digger: Can you tell us the background to Stockings and Frills and why you formed this enterprise?...

Gary: Ö Sorry, my phone cut off there! We have had problems with our Ďphone and havenít got the new handset yet.

Digger: Have you seen these Retro brick phones that theyíre selling at the moment? It houses your iPhone or whatever modern phone you have inside the Ďshellí of an eighties brick phone. Just for fun and pose value.

Gary: (Laughs) Well, we need to get a replacement for our hands free here. Iíve seen the old round dial phones that you can get.

Digger: Iíve got an original from the thirties Ė itís beautiful and they have a lovely feel to them and are very solid but I canít use it for everyday as itís too heavy to use for long calls!

Gary: I remember those from being a kid. Good to see those about again.

Digger: So, can you tell us your background?

Gary: I have been looking around at various options after I was made redundant and I always wanted to sell from a shop. I suppose from the days of watching Open All Hours and the British being a nation of shopkeepers. So it was something that interested me although some of my interests were never a viable option for doing a shop. So, like any male, I suppose, I had an interest in ladies lingerie and that was an area that I did look into. I just quite like the arty side of it when you see tasteful glamour and pinup art at the trade shows. Itís really quite nice.

Digger: I love the Vargas pinups and artwork like that. I have some fifties plates with pinups on them and theyíre amazing.

Gary: Yes, the problem being  that youíre always fighting that fine line between art and pornography and the definition can be blurred.

Digger: Itís very subjective, isnít it? What appeals to somebody might be totally over the top to somebody else. You have to use your best judgement in business so as not to cause offence.

Gary: Exactly, tasteful lingerie images always appealed to me and this year when we were on holiday in Ibiza and I met a guy out there Ė he is one of the directors of Stockings and Romance. We got chatting and it just seemed the perfect opportunity. Here was a guy from a company who designed their own underwear and the retro theme came along through that. There was never any initial intention that I would get into modern or retro or any particular genre. It just came along and options like that donít come along very often.

Digger: Have you got any retro passions?

Gary: Yes and no. The more Iíve been involved in this business and getting it off the ground then the more research Iíve done and the more you find out about retro. I suppose if I think of the eras which I would have chosen to go back to, using my kid brain and getting into a time machine and asking where Iíd go back to - two eras that I would like to go back to are the forties and the sixties. The forties, not because of pinups or anything like that but because it was an era when young lads were caught in the war and although I wouldnít like to live through that war and be a soldier I would like to be able to pop back.

Digger: Like Nicholas Lyndhurst in Goodnight Sweetheart?

Gary: Exactly. It would be nice to experience a week or so and see what it felt like. It was a proper mechanical age and before computers where menís jobs were menís jobs.

Digger: Although, ironically, women took over most of those menís jobs in the war and did them rather well.

Gary: Thatís right. And my wifeís Nan was talking to us about this the other day and her experiences. The other era that appeals is the sixties as well Ė thereís just something about it.

Digger: Youíre too young to even remember the sixties arenít you?

Gary: Yes, I was born in Ďí71. Again, itís an era when you came from a repressed forties  and coming out of the war and rationing and austerity into where life started to get a bit better in the fifties. But it wasnít until the sixties where life really started to change completely.

Digger: I talked to Petula Clark and she remarked that she remembers everything in the forties and fifties in black and white and then everything in the sixties onwards in colour. That surprised me that a star who lived through those years sees them that way Ė almost the way we see black and white films being the norm until colour took over in the sixties.

Gary: Yes, we do. Itís just that Iíve grown up always heavily into music and popular culture and feel blessed but even in my time Iíve lived through some big revolutions in music. Iím really into dance music and you had the early eighties electro and then hip-hop coming through. Then the acid house explosion and all that kind of stuff and I was probably a bit too young but I remember the punk and disco era. Too young to be going out and doing it.

Digger: You missed Glam Rock.

Gary: I am a bit too young for it and obviously Iím aware of it and itís the earlier ages that fascinate me and they never used to.

Digger: Itís a thing that people tend to do as they get older as well, starting to look back a bit more.

Gary: Yes, I think so and itís an appreciation of where youíre getting to in life as you get older and how you got here. The progress of technology, music and clothing and all of that.

Digger: What are the main products and services that Stockings and Frills are supplying?

Gary: Predominantly at the moment on the lingerie side itís the Stocking and Romance collection that is my mainstay and Iím looking at new products and ranges. Because Iíve got such a good relationship with Stockings and Romance and Andy there Ė the product is good quality and itís taking time to search out and build relationships with other suppliers. Itís a modern twist on an old classic Ė I suppose thatís the best way to describe it. Girdles, corselets, suspender belts, original stockings, still authentic from the forties era and still made on the original machines.

Digger: Oh, I see, modern manufacture on the original machinery?

Gary: Yes, still made to the exacting standards on the original machines they used and thereís not many about. So obviously thereís a lot of imitations about at the moment but Iím quite pleased to say that what weíre selling is proper stuff and as it was back in the day. So thatís the main range of underwear and then thereís the new range of bullet bras coming out which have been kept to standard and again are in the forties style.

Digger: What sort of response are you getting from clients?

 

 

 

Gary: Very good. We get some repeat business and thatís good to hear, knowing that customers are coming back, but itís been quite a steep learning curve getting a shop open and getting it up and running properly. We had a few teething problems, which didnít help, but as far as the site is concerned itís fully operational now so itís just a mad race to get it advertised and up there. And things like Twitter and Facebook, even though Iím into computers, they werenít an area that I was ever too keen on getting involved in on a personal level. But on a business level youíve got to use it so that was also a steep learning curve.

Digger: Good experience as well, because then you can do it for other businesses as well as part of your consultancy.

Gary: Exactly, and again thatís something that Iím looking into. But as far as the main Stockings and Frills site is concerned, Iíve got some shows coming up where Iím going to be trying to find some new products and trying to move more into clothing in the style of the site.

Digger: Are you focusing on the ladies and not going for the gents as well?

Gary: At the moment Iím going to concentrate on the female side. My main selling point is obviously  the underwear and what Iím trying to do is find items which complement the underwear. So what we have now is a range of shoes from a supplier in America which are very pinup-esque in their design. Thatís been a really good addition to the site. So what Iím trying to add now is some swimwear. I found some good manufacturers of pinup-style swimwear. The key to the site is keeping that retro theme. Itís a really good niche market.  Itís probably been a Godsend finding Andy at Stockings and Romance and the retro theme because the problem with modern underwear is that youíre up against some really big boys.

 

 

   

 

 

Digger: No, you need a niche. Retro is a big market.

Gary: Thereís a lot of sites out there selling underwear but a lot of the stuff out there has a look and feel of a high street sex shop and thatís not what I want to offer. Iím sure they make good money out of it but retro is a good niche market and itís a good product.

Digger: One of my clients the other day said thereís vintage, thereís retro and then thereís rubbish.

Gary: Yes. 

Digger: I think a lot of people wouldnít dream of spending real money on something genuine or original or authentic and so they will be happy to go for cheaper imitations or modern pretenders. It doesnít matter to them and theyíre happy with that. Other people have to have the originals at all costs and theyíll pay for it and there are other people who are in between.

Gary: The thing with garments is that they may look to the younger generation like something their granny would wear but the garments we sell are just as sexy as standard lingerie, theyíre just slightly different.

Digger: The forties and fifties clothing was incredibly smart and incredibly sexy. A lot more sexy than the recent times where itís all too obvious.

Gary: From initial looking at products and where I wanted to go into I have to freely admit that I didnít know too much about that era. But itís something that really pleasantly surprised me the more I got into it. One programme that used to fascinate me was Bewitched and I had a thing for the lady in that.

Digger: Elizabeth Montgomery.

Gary: Youíre up on all this, arenít you?! It was one of those programmes I loved and I thought she was absolutely gorgeous.

Digger: She was lovely. My friend Tom Murray photographed her professionally and they were great friends.

Gary: The sixties TV Ė a very sexy lady without being sluttish or anything like that. She was a very classy sexy lady.

Digger: Iíve got a signed photo of her so Iíll send you a copy of it.

Gary: Fantastic. The only thing that let down the sixties era was when they went into the super skinny thing Ė you know, in the forties and fifties women actually had curves.

Digger: Thatís important I think. Girls looking like boys makes no sense to me.

Gary: No, a woman should look like a woman. That was the only thing Ė the Lulu and Twiggy and Cilla look which was very skinny.

Digger: But we also had Marianne Faithfull and Helen Mirren flying the flag for the more shapely woman.

Gary: Yes, again very sexy ladies.

Digger: What are your best sellers and who are your customers?

Gary: Itís been such a spread, to be honest with you, of young and old, men and women. I honestly thought it would attract an older woman and I got it completely wrong. The youngest on there is early twenties and the oldest seventy seven. But again, on the back end of the shop they choose to fill in their details, age and gender and so on and you get a feel for who your clients are. Not everyone has chosen to enter but most have and the spread has been very wide.

Digger: Thatís encouraging.

Gary: It is. The trend is slightly more towards women than men.

Digger: Itís good to know that your client-base isnít just elderly people as you might end up losing them in time.

Gary: No, and also we get clients from America and Australia, France and all around the UK.

Digger: You being Internet-based then thatís gratifying.

 

 

 

 

Gary: Yes, itís something that Iím starting to investigate Ė targeting specific audiences and geotagging. Itís an online shop and I can ship worldwide but thatís another thing to add on the list of what to learn about.

Digger: Have you got your name, address and phone number on the site?

Gary: Yes, I have.

Digger: Good answer.

Gary: I wanted it to be as open as possible and one thing I canít stand when you go onto a site is when they have things like Yahoo email addresses and no contact details or phone number. No definitive way to contact them. It makes it a little bit faceless.

Digger: I also think it makes it a little bit suspect.

Gary: It does. It leads me on to where do you go with payment options? People trust Google and Paypal, but Iíve been looking at merchant account options to give people more choice and more security. I want to increase options and make it more attractive and easier for people to do a transaction.

Digger: Yes, you need to get people at the time they want to buy and make it as easy as possible for them. They are very impatient and want to do it in as few clicks as possible and without filling in lots of forms.

Gary: Itís hard, but the siteís in its infancy and Iím getting steadily rising visitor numbers each day. I can see the variations on how theyíre getting into the site. I chatted with Andy for some time from Stocking and Romance for tips on how to cater for searches and how to market the site and we were chatting about what forums to go on. The items that we sell, even though theyíre not fetish, there is a fine line between what people wear the garments for. From Ďnormalí people who like to wear this stuff to the voyeuristic people who like to go out and do stuff and even to the point of men buying lingerie for themselves.

Digger: Whatever floats your boat, as they say.

Gary: A lot of the products we sell are available in large sizes and if thatís what you like then thereís absolutely no problem at all with that. And thatís the thing, how far left of the line and how far right of the line do you go in advertising the stuff? Thatís been quite an eye opener.

Digger: Itís down to where you want to position yourself and where you feel comfortable. Itís your business and in the end you donít want to upset any of your customers.

Gary: Iím very open-minded to be honest.

Digger: You donít want anybody to go into your site and be shocked.

Gary: No, thatís the thing. The marketing and keywords Iíve kept above the counter. Itís not a site that I want to be pornographic and I want to be tasteful and include swimwear and clothing. You can still advertise on lots of forums to get your site out there.

Digger: And what about the future?

Gary: Weíve got a trade show that weíre going to in February where weíre trying to bring on board some new products and Iíve got a couple of suppliers that Iím in discussions with. At the moment itís dresses and skirts with a retro forties, fifties look and slowly moving toward that sixties era as well. The underwear did change in the sixties. And then weíll introduce the swimwear in the next few months. 

Digger: Skinny Dip and La Luna do some great retro swimwear.

Gary: Iíll look out for them. The shoes are quite niche Ė not high street shoes and not everyday but more glam and for going out. Those fun nights in the bedroom. But theyíve all got that nice pinup feel to them.

Digger: It sounds like youíre on an adventures here and enjoying what youíre doing?

Gary: Do you know what? Itís been hard work but really enjoyable as well because itís opened my eyes to a whole new interest. The thing is that my wife works full time, so I have been able to concentrate on this as a full-time job. And sheís given me the chance to sit down and spend a good bit of time researching and looking at things and learning about that era. Itís a good find and Iím so happy that Iíve stumbled into it. I love to do research and, in fact, itís part of my nature to be inquisitive about things.

Digger: The good thing about my website for you is that that there will be dozens of good contacts on there who might be able to help you in one way or another. Good sources of stuff or people who can sell on or put you in touch with clients.

Gary: Iíve been looking around the music sections. Thatís a big favourite of mine.

Digger: When we interviewed Dame Vera Lynn we were able to include about thirty websites and businesses who have a forties focus, like forties shows, re-enactors, tributes, forties clothing and forties glamour photography.

Gary: Dame Vera is a national institution and if you say her name to anyone theyíll know who she is.

Digger: And what she represents.

Gary: Yes, you canít get much bigger than that. As big as Winston Churchill and she probably does carry that sort of standing.

Digger: She had a huge impact on morale in the war.

Gary: She certainly did and Iíll be reading that one in a minute.

Digger: Sheís a lovely grand lady. So, it looks as though you are all set for success Gary.

Gary: I have bypassed a couple of opportunities or not been able to follow them up in the past. It got to the point in my own mind and for my own self assurance Iíve got to give this a go. And it has to be now or itís never going to happen. If, in three years or five years, I look back and say for whatever reason it didnít work out then at least I tried.

Digger: I imagine that even if it doesnít work, and I think it will, it will lead to something else and youíll meet somebody at one of these shows or in the course of what youíre doing. Something will happen that will spark an idea or a relationship and youíll be doing something else retro or something else that takes advantage of the experience youíve had here.

Gary: Even in the eight months or so itís taken to get this off the ground, and finding your site. Sometimes I donít have enough time to go through everything Ė your site for example is like a Wikipedia of information. Thereís a hell of a lot there and thereís forums Iíve been joining and have become active on and Iím meeting people there. And you throw ideas around and listen to other peopleís ideas. Itís been absolutely fantastic  - thereís a whole community out there and thereís been some brilliant advice and thatís opening up opportunities. You wonder where youíre going to find products to sell and then something clicks into place. Youíre exactly right, itís going to be a progression. Maybe some other business ideas or developments of this business.

Digger: I wish you all possible success Gary.

Gary: Thanks David.

 

 

 


 

Stockings and Frills - Lingerie inspired
 from the Pin Up Girl era of the 40's and 50's

 

Lingerie, Stockings, Bullet Bras, Corselettes & Cinchers, Girdles, Gloves, Nylon Stockings, Retro Panties, Suspender Belts

Stockings and Frills is an online lingerie store specialising in retro underwear inspired from the 40's & 50's Pin Up Girl look. All our garments have been designed and manufactured by 'Stockings & Romance', most are made here in the UK, and all have been manufactured to the highest standards.

Stockings and Frills are proud to offer this unique range of Retro Lingerie, all items are exclusive in design, and have been made with the Pin Up Girl in mind.

Call us on 0843 289 4420.
(Available between 08.30am & 5.30pm Monday to Friday).

 

www.stockingsandfrills.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 


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