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Finally, There's a Vintage Seller Bringing More Size Inclusivity to Second-Hand

The Second-Hand Shopper is a new franchise that sees Who What Wear's Shopping Editor, Joy Montgomery, join forces with some of the industry's coolest vintage brands to show you that second-hand does not have to mean second best. This series will give you exclusive access to sellout second-hand drops, which will be hand-selected by our editor and styled to show how you can wear it for the season ahead. Prepare to get clicking, because these pieces won't stick around for long.

For my April instalment of The Second-Hand Shopper, I wanted to do something a little different and join forces with Finds By Foxes, a platform that specialises in mid and plus-size vintage pieces. Except, this is the issue isn't it? Size diversity shouldn't really be a point of difference, but far too often it is regarded as a concession, particularly in the UK, where the industry is somewhat behind the times. Sadly, feeling excluded from the world of fashion has just become the norm for those who are a size 14 or above (it's worth noting that the average size in the UK is a 16), and vintage simply another frontier which has become mired, whether intentionally or not, by the restrictions of a supposed 'body ideal'. 

The Secondhand Shopper: Finds by Foxes

Photo:

@findsbyfoxes

Of course, I'm not saying that I haven't been part of the problem. It took me three instalments of my Second-Hand Shopper series to realise that I was offering up edits that only came in my size (a UK 8–10), and in turn, I wasn't acknowledging the limitations that this might impose on those reading my articles. If vintage is to become truly accessible, which I believe it should, it has to cater to every shape, size and style. 

I feel unbelievably lucky to have found Katty Patterson, the brains (and face) behind Finds By Foxes, a platform that offers premium vintage clothing edits and style inspiration, all tailored to UK sizes 12 and above. Katty, who is a size 16, expertly styles all her second-hand finds on herself and her collections are packed full of both versatile basics and personality-packed pieces. It was such a joy to create this edit with her, and while I personally chose the items listed below, it was all from a rail that she had meticulously curated and sourced over the last few months. It is also her styling that truly brings the pieces to life.

I sat down with Katty (digitally) to discuss everything from size diversity and vintage shopping tips to the impact of the pandemic on small businesses. Scroll down to read our interview and shop my Find By Foxes vintage edit, which goes live today.

The Secondhand Shopper: Finds by Foxes

Photo:

Courtesy of Katty Patterson

What's your earliest memory of buying vintage clothing?

I was quite late to the thrifting game compared to some. I didn't grow up in second-hand stores and had no real knowledge of the fashion sphere. Then at 18, I spent a year in California and it was like a sensory explosion. The thrift and vintage scene was huge and I felt an instant creative connection with this laidback, eclectic fashion dynamic. I remember buying a hand-knitted, baby blue pixie hood/scarf combo from a vintage store in Huntington Beach the same day I picked up a second-hand pink, tutu skirt and I am 150% sure I wore them together.

The Secondhand Shopper: Katty Patterson

Photo:

Courtesy of Katty Patterson

What inspired you to set up a vintage business with an emphasis on mid and plus sizes?

I've been shopping vintage for half my life now and selling it in some form for over a decade. Back in 2008, I had an eBay store and always shot the pieces on myself. I always felt it gave life to clothes and brought a wearability to pieces that might seem otherwise outdated or intimidating. Back then I was a size 12 and didn't have too much trouble satisfying my vintage desires. But over the next 10 years, my body started to change.

I've had three kids in the last six years and much of my former vintage collection no longer fit me. I took a break and honestly felt a bit disheartened and that, perhaps, the vintage scene was no longer for me. It seemed like most of the options out there for a UK 16 and over were just not my style. I relaunched my brand in 2019 selling kids vintage and homewares only.

Occasionally, I'd list something I'd found that I could actually model, and each time I always had the same feedback, thanking me for bringing an amazing option for curvy bodies. I realised then that I wasn't alone and with my sourcing and styling experience—there was a chance I could pull together some magic. So I started again, honed my focus and have grown the brand and rebuilt my own vintage wardrobe as a result.

The Secondhand Shopper: Finds by Foxes

Photo:

Courtesy of Katty Patterson

Why is there is a lack of size diversity in the vintage market as a whole?

I think there's a general perception that what we would classify as "modern mid-plus size" people didn't exist before now, whereas that's absolutely not the case. The reality is though that for whatever reason it really can be harder to find quality mid-plus pieces. Natural fibres versus polyester. Tailored versus shapeless. Statement versus every day. Pieces in larger sizes were often custom or homemade, and I read recently that often they've been handed down through families and worn beyond repair. This is my job and even I find it nearly impossible to source certain pieces. I wish it wasn't the case as there's nothing I love more than Space Age cocktail dresses and palazzo co-ords.

I do, however, think it's possible to bring collections that rival high street brands. This is my own personal goal, but I do think you would need to be focused on this particular niche to do it regularly and at scale. I know I still have work to do and this year I have started sourcing on a rolling 12-month basis so I can curate a more diverse range of sizes within each drop. I am also grateful for the recently established Ahead of the Curve market that brings together hundreds of pieces in a wide variety of styles, ranging from UK 16–30+.

What are your top tips for shopping vintage as a mid or plus-size person?

Know your measurements inside out. We all know our height at the drop of a hat, but for some reason, we don't know the circumference of our hips. Focus especially on any area that you regularly struggle with, be it thighs or uppers arms, and always ask if they aren't provided. And if you're shopping in person? Bring a tape measure! It will save you much time and heartache.

The Secondhand Shopper: Katty Patterson

Photo:

Courtesy of Katty Patterson

What impact has the pandemic had on your business, both good and bad?

It's a hard one to answer in one sense, as the brand in its current form only launched at the end of 2019. In the last year, I've connected and built wonderful relationships with customers and sellers alike. The one thing I've been hyper-aware of in the last year, however, is the fact that there are going to be many people who aren't, perhaps, in the position to make purchases and I want to be a source of more than just clothes.

I wanted my styling experience to be of use to others irrespective of whether they can or want to shop with me. So I've made a conscious effort to regularly record styling Reels and IGTVs on Instagram that shows how to restyle and repurpose vintage pieces in fresh ways using what you already have in your wardrobe. It's this, I think, that's helped build a community of people who know I'm human and I'm always here to help. I hope that continues in the post-pandemic days that are to come.

Where do you hope to see the second-hand clothing industry in five years' time?

I'd like to think that repairing/repurposing/re-selling/swapping your own wardrobe will be the norm. I imagine there will be a great deal more second-hand and vintage brands in direct competition with former high-street giants. And I'd like to see vintage options featured within magazine fashion edits as standard.

Shop My Find By Foxes Vintage Edit

This is definitely my favourite item from the collection. The wiggle embroidery and collar-like effect of the white triangles make this feel like a truly contemporary piece.

Katty estimates this is a size 16–20 in today's standard sizing. Click for measurements and more details.

A broderie-anglaise dress is a summer wardrobe classic, and I love the simple silhouette of this midi style which looks fab cinched with a waist belt.

Katty estimates this is a size 14 in today's standard sizing. Click for measurements and more details.

Jackets are a great entry-point to vintage fashion, and in my experience, you really can't go wrong with a blazer. This beige beauty will work with everything from denim to dresses and feel fresh season after season.

Katty estimates this is a size 12–16 (depending on desired fit) in today's standard sizing. Click for measurements and more details.

Anyone who has hunted high and low for a vintage Laura Ashley needs to see this stunning floral midi. It might be from a lesser-known brand, but it still packs a punch with its pretty puffed sleeves and dropped waistline. 

Katty estimates this is a size 16 in today's standard sizing. Click for measurements and more details.

A short-sleeve shirt has become one of my go-tos when the warm weather hits. This striped cheesecloth blouse immediately caught my attention with its very 2021 shade of pale yellow.

Katty estimates this is a size 16–18 in today's standard sizing. Click for measurements and more details.

Love the shacket trend but find some of the offerings a little too boxy? This draped, lightweight jacket is the one for you. Coming in an unusual shade of rust red and cinched with a waist-tie belt, this will be a dream on cooler summer evenings. 

Katty estimates this is a size 14–16 in today's standard sizing. Click for measurements and more details.

I wish this was in my size, to be honest. I don't usually go for skirts, but there's something about making it into a co-ord that suddenly makes it feel so much more appealing. Wear together for a cool spring pairing or style each item separately for serious versatility. 

Katty estimates this is a size 12–14 in today's standard sizing. Click for measurements and more details.

Hello sailor. This nautical-themed short-sleeved jacket is simply too cool for words. With candy-striped piping and gold buttons, all it needs is a Breton tee and jeans for Audrey Hepburn chic.

Katty estimates this is a size 12–16 in today's standard sizing. Click for measurements and more details.

I recently bought a 1970s embroidered blouse and I received so many compliments about it. This red floral look is begging to be tucked into high-waisted jeans and styled with oversized vintage sunnies.

Katty estimates this is a size 16 in today's standard sizing. Click for measurements and more details.

If you have a wedding coming up this year, may I direct you to the Roma? This sleeveless shift dress comes in an amazing shade of pale yellow and features intricate floral embroidery that runs down the full length of the dress.

Katty estimates this is a size 16–18 in today's standard sizing. Click for measurements and more details.

I wanted to make sure I included a few basics in this edit, alongside the "wow" pieces, and this navy silk blouse is just that. Wear alone or layered over a tank top, this blouse will be a serious wardrobe workhorse. I also love the tiny nautical motifs on the front. 

Katty estimates this is a size 12 in today's standard sizing. Click for measurements and more details.

This is one seriously clever co-ord. Made of lightweight plisse fabric, the first layer is a simple, elevated sundress and then there's a blouse that can be layered over the top to create a more covered-up look. The blouse also looks amazing worn with jeans, FYI (see image below).

Katty estimates this is a size 12 in today's standard sizing. Click for measurements and more details.

The top looks pretty amazing by itself too.

Another staple to add to the lineup: this time it's an oversized silk shirt in a pale yellow shade. Wear with denim shorts and sandals in summer, then swap in tailored trousers and boots in winter. 

Katty estimates this is a size 12–18 in today's standard sizing. Click for measurements and more details.

I'm a sucker for a bit of Wild West styling, and this skirt co-ord feels suitably escapist. The three-button fastening on the skirt allows for size adaptability, and as Katty wisely notes, you could even unpick and move along to create the perfect fit. 

Katty estimates this is a size 16–22 in today's standard sizing. Click for measurements and more details.

This quilted jacket is reversible, so you essentially get two looks in one. On one side is a white, intricately quilt-stitched design, while on the other is a brown, ditzy floral print. Either way, it's a real stunner. 

Katty estimates this is a size 12 in today's standard sizing. Click for measurements and more details.

Yep, I'm still invested in the collar trend, and this gold blouse can be worn alone or under a dress for plenty of BCE (Big Collar Energy, obvs) appeal.

Katty estimates this is a size 16–18 in today's standard sizing. Click for measurements and more details.

With subtle floral embroidery and classic crew neckline, this lightweight cardi would look amazing worn as a top with layered jewellery for in-between-temperature spring days. 

Katty estimates this is a size 22–24 in today's standard sizing. Click for measurements and more details.

Another two-in-one jacket for you—aren't you lucky? While the botanical floral side is pretty amazing, I particularly love the brown-toned abstract print, which feels almost Japanese in style. This would look fab belted with wide-leg trousers.

Katty estimates this is a size 16–18 in today's standard sizing. Click for measurements and more details.

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