REVIVAL VINTAGE 20TH ANNIVERSARY
This year Revival Vintage marks 20 years in business selling mid-century vintage alongside reproduction clothing for men and women.
Who would have thought when founder Helene Fallows opened her stall in the historic Queensgate market in Huddersfield that it would grow into the progressive company that it is today? Although Revival remains a small independent business with the same values, it now ships to all corners of the globe and helps kit out actors in popular TV shows and films.
Born in the 1960s, Helene grew up in North Yorkshire and was interested in fashion from a young age: "As a youngster I loved dressing up my dolls, including paper ones in the latest fashion trends as well as my pets, given half a chance. At high school when I really should have been concentrating more on lessons I would doodle my own clothing catalogues, mini versions of the Peter England and Kays that my grandma used to have".
Helene was also crazy about ponies and after a lot of pestering was lucky enough to own one. She did well in local gymkhanas, followed by show jumping and cross-country events with her horses. Helene goes on to say, "this is where my drive and competitive spirit originated and has stayed with me through my career".
On leaving Ryedale School, Helene studied fashion design in York. As a student, she loved to put together kooky outfits sourced from charity shops and markets plus hand-sewn creations of dubious standard! On completion of her studies, Helene went straight into self-employment, making bespoke clothing from premises at The Crescent in York. Towards the end of the 1980s, she put her business on hold to work in Belmont Shore LA California for 8 months. Upon her return, she took a 'temporary' job for a chain of restaurants & within 2 years had progressed from waitress to Regional Training Manager for Grand Metropolitan a blue chip food, drink and hotel company. This period gave her extensive experience in the training of others, alongside an invaluable insight into the operation of successful businesses.
Four years later, Helene moved across to Nestle where she worked as a production team leader, later moving into HR & training roles. Despite her flourishing career, she missed working with clothing. In 2003, after moving to West Yorkshire, she decided to take the plunge & go self-employed again by launching Revival. She felt in a much stronger position with all the experience gained in the corporate world.
As already highlighted, the first location for Revival was a walk-on stall in Huddersfield's indoor market. Our customer service manager Sarah joined Helene there. They both enjoyed the experience but soon outgrew the space, and after a couple of years moved to their first town centre shop in the Imperial Arcade. During this period they started to add wigs and other costume items to the stock. Larger premises meant they could grow further & develop an online presence.
It was during this time Helene's husband Mark exchanged his job in computer programming to join the company full time. His career began in the RAF and later Scientific Games in Leeds. His technical acumen alongside Helene's creativity seemed like a match made in heaven - and they still work well together today.
Not long after Mark joined Revival, they opened a second store in a beautiful Victorian arcade, also in Huddersfield town centre, in order to retail the vintage clothing and costume offerings independently.
Due to the growth of Amazon and online shopping in 2018, with a heavy heart, the decision was made to close the brick and mortar stores and drop the costume side of the business altogether to concentrate on vintage, where their passion & interest truly lay. Mark explains, "we anticipated the decline in high street shopping, the direction it was heading and felt we had a better chance of growth by concentrating on a niche that big box stores and supermarkets couldn't get in on. Let's face it -- they sell most other things!"
With both shops closed, Revival moved to a small industrial estate formerly a wood sawmills, by the railway tracks close to the couple's home. Mark explains "leasing two units provides an ideal office base for our five staff, storage for stock, and a showroom to welcome visitors".
The original team of two has now expanded to a team of seven. "When we moved to the Sawmills Sarah re-joined us after a couple of years' break. Bringing on board Caroline, Alice, Rebecca and Heather since then has boosted our marketing capability, enabling us to build our audience and process orders more efficiently".
The first item manufactured under the Revival own label was the basic white spearpoint collar shirt, and by ploughing profit back into the business this has allowed the range to steadily grow. They now offer a wide choice of period accurate mens and womenswear including vintage style accessories with an additional premier label named Socialite.
This year, to celebrate 20 years in business, they are transitioning to a limited company status and introducing more new products: a range of beautiful dresses, plus a new linen suit for women, alongside additional menswear. When choosing the names of garments, they use those that are sentimental, such as the Rufus knitted waistcoat and Edwin highwaist trousers named after Helene & Mark's dads. These are featured alongside inspirational names, such as the Victory suit, or names to make folk smile, like the gentlemen's linen Gadabout suit.
The team explain Revival replicas are copied as closely as possible to the original garments we have collected and saved over the years. We have built relationships with great factories in the UK, the rest of Europe and China. We love the fact that we can spread the charm of historical pieces to all figures, shapes and sizes around the world. We love receiving feedback and photographs to prove it. We even run an award scheme to reward customers for sharing them.
Ever more increasingly, Revival and Socialite brand clothing are featured by film and TV companies. The team are always genuinely thrilled to see their vintage and vintage inspired garments on the big screen.
Helene concludes, "from the outset, we aimed to treat people as we would like to be treated, operating with fairness and kindness towards employees and customers alike. We have been through such a lot in the past twenty years, thefts, fires, floods, a pandemic, Brexit, more recently strikes to name only a few -- but we adjust, we pull together and keep moving forward".
To mark this 20 year milestone, on top of the new reproduction lines mentioned, they will be hosting an exciting Autumn event alongside a local charity plus various competitions and giveaways throughout the year. This was kick started on 26th Jan where one lucky customer was paid back all their order with another two benefiting from a part refund.
Of course we make mistakes and sometimes get things wrong, but we always assess, re-group and try to learn from them. Doing the very best we can still lies at the root of all we do. We hope you will continue to support us. We appreciate each and everyone of you for choosing to buy Revival Vintage, engaging with our social media, or for simply giving us a chance.
Thank you ❤️
Sarah, Rebecca, Caroline, Alice and Heather.
After receiving my first order from revival I am very pleased it will not be the last thank you
Excellent & interesting reading your histories. Congratulations on 20 years. Wishimg you continued success.