Photo: Courtesy of Peter Sutherland.
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Fashion History Museum brings excess inventory to semi-annual event

For those who love vintage fashion, having the ability to purchase pieces from the Fashion History Museum may sound like a dream. At this November’s Ottawa Vintage Clothing Show, that dream is about to become a reality.

The semi-annual event will be taking place on Nov. 8 at the Shaw Centre from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The show will feature a variety of different vintage vendors from Hamilton’s Vintage Soul Geek to Ottawa’s REBEL/RECLUSE Vintage Clothing, owned by University of Ottawa alumnus Marley McRae.

“It’s nearly 20,000 square feet at the Shaw Centre, and it’s kind of wall-to-wall booths, and wall-to-wall clothing, and jewellery, and handbags,” said Peter Sutherland, the show coordinator. “It’s a lot of fun to be there.”

The show is the biggest of it’s kind in Canada, attracting thousands of shoppers who are on the hunt for unique retro finds.

The fall edition of the show will give attendees the rare opportunity to sift through some of the Fashion History Museum’s excess inventory to find that special piece.

The inventory coming from the museum will include everything from 1950s cocktail dresses to Victorian and Edwardian gowns. Although the pieces aren’t necessarily what one would wear on the daily, they are great for costumes and vintage fashion collectors. If you’re feeling daring you could even use some DIY skills to give the pieces a modern update yourself.

The museum had the difficult decision to make as to whether they wanted to bring their collection to the Toronto or Ottawa show, but ultimately decided on the Nation’s Capital. Although the Toronto show is growing, Ottawa still hosts the biggest vintage fashion show in Canada.

Peter’s daughter Carleigh Sutherland, U of O alumna and the social media manager of the show, believes that the popularity of the show is not just due to the wide array of vintage clothing and accessories available to attendees, but also because of the energy at the event. They call it “adrenaline-fuelled shopping.”

“With vintage, it’s one of a kind. If you don’t get it, it’s gone,” said Peter.

“It’s a fun event to go to. I really like seeing people dress up. People go all out,” said Carleigh. “It’s just a really vibrant place to be.”

For students on a budget, there will be many wallet-friendly vendors at the show to make sure that you don’t break the bank. “Primetime is one of my favourites,” said Carleigh. “I really go there because a lot of their dresses are really fun, and their prices are so fair.”

One of Carleigh’s favourite parts of wearing vintage pieces is how they can make a unique outfit without having to go full-retro. Whether it’s a pair of 1940s Babydoll shoes or a colourful scarf, a small vintage piece can make a routine outfit that much more exciting.

And although the thought of spending $8 on a ticket to attend a shopping-related event may seem a bit steep, Peter believes that it is completely worth it. “If you can show me a more fun show for $8, I’d be surprised.”


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