Here Digger talks to Caroline
Horrocks at recently-formed Pinup Polly. Caroline loves vintage and,
having established a family, Caroline decided to create an
online boutique that brings together some of the lesser-known
vintage brands from around the world.
Many of these 40s and 50s
designs are exclusive to Pinup Polly...
Digger: Hello Caroline. How are
Caroline: Iím okay thanks.
Digger: Can you please tell us
Caroline: I donít have a lot of background really. Iím thirty
now and met my husband when I was twenty-one and we decided to
put his career first. So we moved around three or four times. As my husband
was earning, we thought weíd have children while we were
younger and then Iíll do it the other way around and have a
Digger: I wish Iíd gone around
the world when I was very young.
Caroline: Yes, thatís one thing I do kind of regret because my
brother travelled several times round Ė heís slightly older
than me. One dayÖ (Laughs) When they're grown up Iíll still be
young and fit enough.
Digger: Yes, you will be. Fifty
is the new forty and forty the new thirty so youíll be
alright. So, it's a new business Caroline. Where did you get the name and whatís
it all about?
Caroline: We started about three months ago, though I did
originally start all the prep in May and the name just came out
of nowhere at the pub.
Digger: Was it a two oíclock in
the morning in the pub brainstorm light-bulb moment?!
Caroline: No, I always knew I wanted my own business. My
father had his own business, my brother's got his own
business and I wanted to do something. And they say you should
do something youíre interested in. I was already selling a
little bit of vintage fashion on eBay.
Digger: Did you do okay on
Caroline: Yes, but it's a lot of effort for a little reward
when you're sourcing stuff and then selling it on eBay.
Digger: Do you wear vintage on
a day-to-day basis Caroline?
Caroline: Yes I do. I have a fifties dress on now...
Digger: Did you see the
programme on BBC 4 - it was about David Bailey and Jean
Shrimpton in New York? Thatís worth seeing, if only for the
vintage look and clothes that Shrimpton wears. It was called
Weíll Take Manhattan and was about them going there for a
Vogue photo shoot in the days just before The Beatles broke
British music and popular culture became the centre of the
Caroline: Cool. Iíll have to take a look at that.
Digger: Please... go on
Caroline: ... So I was searching for the name and for some stock and said
to my husband ďI know what Iíll call it, Iíll call it Pinup
Polly.Ē And actually I really liked that having said it on a
whim. I found out no-one else had the name. I found that,
as I was approaching people, it was a name that everyone
Digger: Are people expecting it
to be a bit risquť as a result of the name?
Caroline: I think my original worry was that people would
think I was a pinup model with that name but at least it
sticks in the memory. I was at the bank and said who I was and
they said ďOh yes, I remember the name. We were talking about
the name in the office.Ē So thatís a good sign.
Digger: Itís alliteration when
the words start with the same letter. Very useful foe the
Caroline: It is. Pinup Polly.
Digger: A good way to remember
things. Weíre very simple animals, aren'tí we? (Both laugh)
Caroline: Yes, weíre all trademarked up and everything now.
Digger: So tell us more about
the vintage-inspired clothes and accessories you offer.
Caroline: The problem with vintage fashion is that thereís
less and less of it and itís very expensive now and it doesnít
last very long. I bought a lot of my own dresses and the zips
go, you get holes in them and you canít really wash them
properly Ė everything has to be dry cleaned.
Digger: Somebody mentioned to
me the other day that ladies used to get a lot of wear out of
them so some are quite threadbare to start with.
Caroline: Yes, they probably would only have had five or six
outfits which they would have accessorised. So with my own
dress sense I was looking towards reproduction fifties fashion. I came across loads of companies and thatís where it
started really because there are loads of great companies out
there worldwide. There are a few very well-known companies
that you can buy on other sites in the UK but I guess I was
trying to find our USP Ė more smaller brands, a lot of them
run by women with small companies and getting those into one
shop. And theyíre all made with limited quantities and I think
the cut and the fabrics are great. Thatís how it started.
Digger: You mentioned the USPs
there. Thatís how youíre trying to stand out, by bringing
together the smaller brands, not all the obvious names and
trying to source from the UK if you can?
Caroline: Yes. A lot of them are in the States or Australia,
Sweden. They are quite worldwide because obviously in America
itís such a big thing out there Ė Rockabilly fashion, so a lot
are from the USA. But thereís a lot from Europe too. In Berlin
thereís a big Rockabilly scene as well. As itís becoming more
and more fashionable more are popping up.
Digger: The retro thingís quite
big in Germany as well, although their interest in stuff is
mainly between the wars. Why are vintage and retro
such a big thing generally do you think?
Caroline: We put an advert in the vintage section in Vogue a
couple of months back and they have just put an ad in for us
again for free and thereís a big fifties special in there next
month. I think itís because itís classic isnít it? Itís
created to flatter the female figure and looks great and
thatís why I think it keeps coming back again and again.
Digger: Are there any issues
with the modern female figure and trying to squeeze it into
Caroline: The waist sizes back then were tiny and thatís why
reproduction vintage has an advantage. And also the heights Ė
I have an old chart used for models from the fifties and the
highest it stops at is five foot six, which surprises me.
Digger: And youíre probably
taller than that.
Caroline: Yes, Iím five foot seven and I would say a modern UK
ten or twelve would be a sixteen in vintage terms.
Caroline: That just goes to show Ė I guess rationing in this
country was maybe why the waist was slightly smaller. Not a
lot of good nutrition in the forties, I suppose.
Digger: Iím a fatty and have
been one since I was about twenty. I was only slim in my teens
when I discovered girls but now I am the same as 40% of the
other people who are overweight Ė I used to be unusual but now
everybodyís got bigger.
Caroline: Yes, itís the diet basically.
Digger: I do exercise and cut
down but canít seem to shift more than a few pounds.
Caroline: I hate exercise Ė my husband got up and went for a
fifteen mile run this morning. Heís doing 45 miles in March.
Digger: Heís got all those
pasties to work off. (Both laugh)
Caroline: I was thinking when I was dropping my little boy off
to school this morning. He must have different genes because I
was absolutely freezing and didnít want to get out the car Ė
there must be something different with him because you would
never get me running up a massive hill in the cold.
Digger: These runners claim they warm up
with exercise but I wouldnít do. Thank God weíre all different
anyway. So what about your retro and vintage passions
personally apart from the clothes Caroline?
Caroline: I like the Christian Dior new look Ė the big white
skirts and the petticoats rather than the wiggle dresses. Iím
much more of a full-skirted girl and I like all the lingerie
as well because it all nips you in Ė the corsets and things.
You donít have to worry too much about what you eat.
Digger: I was talking to a lady
the other day who told me that corsets for men are a big thing
Caroline: Ah! They used to be. You could get them for your
Digger: This was for people who
are using them for waist training.
Caroline: Oh yes, I see. I know Next launched some Shapewear tops and
Digger: I just wonder where all
the bulges end up going.
Caroline: My mum always says that ĖďThe trouble is it just
spills out somewhere else.Ē Itís got to go somewhere!
Digger: Just like when you
squeeze a squeezy ball? What do the forties and fifties mean
to you Caroline?
Caroline: I think the femininity and the idealism Ė weíre
talking about fifties Americana. My Nan passed away last year
Ė she was in her nineties but she said ďWe didnít have all
this in Britain in the fifties. We couldnít afford it and
didnít have any money, but there was that escapism watching all
the films and a big night out with all the glamorous stars
with us wanting to emulate them.Ē I think definitely thereís
an idealism and also it was slightly conservative as well with
the fashions for the older generation which we donít have
today. And it was the youth as well, the teenagers.
Caroline: (Laughs) Yes, yoof. It was the first time you didnít
dress like your parents. My mum was a child/teenager in
the fifties and she said there was a rebellion against what
your mum and dad wore.
Digger: Thatís true Ė you used
to see young people dressed in a version of what their parents
were wearing and they looked forty or fifty when they were
only in their teens or twenties. Suddenly that all changed.
Caroline: Yes. When my children were born I was looking at
some of the vintage fifties clothes and was shocked by the
trousers for the little boys and so on. I guess itís because I
have an hourglass shape, which is why I love the fifties,
because my mumís only five feet tall and her youth was in the
sixties and she is tiny. She had a 22Ē waist, she looked
like Twiggy and she could get away with wearing things like
that but I donít get away with things like that at all. But also I
think the sixties is such a striking look, isnít it? It makes
you stand out.
Digger: I like the decades
through from the twenties right through to the sixties Ė I
think theyíve all got a discernible look and even with the
austerity of the forties, they still did a lot with it.
Caroline: Yes, the forties look is beautiful with all the hats
and everything. Some of the hats Iíve seen I think ďOoh, Iíd
like to wear thatĒ and then I think maybe Iíd stand out too
Digger: Until the late sixties
we were aspiring towards America Ė we just didnít have all the
stuff. We saw their kids driving cars, colour TVs in all rooms
and we couldnít believe what we saw in the films and TV from
the USA. Weíve caught up now but it was definitely
aspirational then. Who are your typical customers?
Caroline: My typical customer is actually north of the
country. Iíve been quite surprised, but they really like
Digger: How could you have
known that? Strange isnít it?
Caroline: It is strange. When I did some market research I did
think of Chester and Newcastle where women do like to dress
Digger: Liverpool and Yorkshire
are both big for vintage as well.
Caroline: Yes, we had some customers from Merseyside and that
was surprising. But when I thought about it I wasnít too
surprised because my brother went to university in Newcastle
and Iíve seen how they like to get dressed up.
Digger: No jokes about the
north being fifty years behind here! That north/south divide thing
doesnít seem relevant anymore. What are the best and most
enjoyable aspects of what you are doing?
Caroline: I think working for myself Ė having small children
thatís good. And itís nice meeting people at vintage fairs. Maybe next year weíll do some of the bigger festivals. I think
Goodwoodís a good one.
Digger: Itís in
Northamptonshire this year, just down the road from me.
Twinwood is a good one to go to too. They are very into the
look and image there and they all love to dress up in forties
and fifties and to dance. So what of the future Caroline?
Caroline: Just to grow the business and in an ideal world Iíd
love to have a shop but I donít think itís really worth it at
The high street costs are just so expensive, especially in
Exeter. Itís not like Bath or Bristol, where youíve got all the
nice little lanes with shops in. I think the cheapest shop in
Exeter is about £30,000 a year which is off the beaten track
so I donít know. Just growing it and getting a lot more brands
in and travelling around the country more and getting out
there, I think.
Digger: Thatís important.
Premises are a nice to have but such an overhead for a
start-up. The Internet does give you a low-cost option.
Caroline: For a shop you have the rates and the rent and then
you need all the stock Ė a lot more to kit the shop out and to
sell. Iím quite happy at the moment just having it online and
seeing what happens.
Digger: Itís a good way to do
it and youíve not just got the UK market, youíll start to
attract people from overseas as well.
Sounds like you have things pretty well mapped out Caroline.
The best of British to you.
Caroline: Thanks David.
Dresses, Lingerie, Jewellery
Pin Up Polly
Limited is a bijou British company that stocks
chic, glamorous pin up, vintage inspired and
vintage reproduction dresses, lingerie and
Our stock has been carefully chosen from small
international and UK based companies and
independent designers whose talent and passion are
evident in their unique products. Some of these
are exclusive to Pin Up Polly.
Pin Up Polly brings the glamour of vintage styling
to the modern woman with classic, timeless pieces
that echo the fashions of the 1940ís and 1950ís
and will enhance your wardrobe.
Possibly you are looking for a unique knock-out
dress for a special occasion, a fabulous hat and
handbag for a wedding, or maybe a day at the
races. Or if, like us, you love to recreate that
retro 1950ís ďMad MenĒ look on a daily basis then
Pin Up Polly is the boutique for you.
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