Vintage at Goodwood – our verdict

I have just returned from Vintage at Goodwood. I think lets get the good things out of the way before I dive in.

Best bit was seeing so many friends. There was a real ‘whose-who’ of the vintage community including Natasha Bailie (albeit briefly), the girls from Lipstick and Curls, Kali from Lush and lovely, the incredible Hazel from Rag and Bow, my partner in crime Fleur de Guerre and the excellent Chap lot, Claire Pursglove, Leila from Nina The Hairdressers, Lena from the London Guide to Vintage. Best of all was the warm reception I got at the BBC Homes and Antiques stall, and meeting Angela, their Editor.

Unfortunately it kind of stops there, as I feared it might. A little background readers to the VS presence. Last year we had the mighty pleasure of spending 6 weeks sourcing clothes and organising models (Fleur de Guerre looked amazing) and staff for the ‘preview’at Goodwood Revival. We then decamped to Sussex and ran the Emporium and helped with the shows which was great fun. What wasn’t was the attitude of the organisers we met on-site (up to that point we had been working with an amazing lady who really knew her stuff, and who very sadly left the project).  Being extremely rude and patronising and then telling us to  ‘swallow it’ was never pleasant, nor was the attitude of some key curators who were overheard back stage shouting ‘why does no one listen to me, I am a famous designer!’ Love, walking around, picking things up and saying they are shit is not conducive to intelligent conversation.  After the event we kept a dignified silence (though if we had been on Twitter at the time maybe not) and we didn’t want to blog about our experience last year before hand as we knew so many people involved this year.  Amelia Gregory, however wrote a smashing preview which lifted the lid and afirmed so many niggles (do read all the comments). I kind of figured that if they were like that at a small event, heaven knows what a large scale one would be? So, you may wonder what on earth we were doing there then? Well, despite vowing never to again, we eventually agreed to help a friend in the fashion side on the basis that we wouldn’t have to communicate directly with the main team…and I guess we were curious to see what it was like. So early Saturday we rocked up and organised the pop-up bathing beauties fashion show (more on that when the pics are ready).

I’m not going to spend a whole evening listing all the bad (and there was lots, very few loos, staff that didn’t give a dam, sponsored to the max, utterly souless, too much fancy dress, no rain shelter), so here are my closing views. I am really really pleased that people enjoyed themselves having paid so much, and I really hope my vendor friends made a buck or two, but it is definitely not a festival for vintage folk. We struggled to find anything to do that wasn’t extra and had no interest in the Body Shop or Primark. The best bit was the Chap Olympiad but you can buy yourself a whole day of that next year for £15. If you are super passionate about vintage of any era  the odds are that your life is immersed on a daily basis in the kind of aesthetics and culture that Wayne and Co were trying to capitalise on, and as such you don’t need to pay for someone a fat wad for their idea of ‘vintage cool’. I will leave you with this extract from the (12th August – apols if you hit the firewall). I hope next year some of that sponsorship money goes towards paying all the enthusiasts and vintage experts who turned up and worked for free for the ‘love’. There is nothing wrong with a large or financially successful vintage event, but please bring the real values of vintage culture with you, such as cooperation, decency and a passion for quality over the mercenary.

The festival is a 50-50 joint venture with Lord March. Mr Hemingway will not be drawn on exact figures but says the event will cost a “seven-figure sum”. He has also pulled in £700,000 ($1.1m, €850,000) in sponsorship and is aiming for £2m next year. “Next year, I think we’ll have a bidding war among sponsors. We’ll be able to cherry-pick them. We’ll lose money in the first year. But Glastonbury took 11 years and Bestival took six. We’ll break even in year two. I don’t want a business that takes six years to wash its face.”

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Comments ( 14 )

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On a vintage tip… | Festival Style commented on Aug 18 10 at 10:19 am

Wow. It’s been so interesting reading all the blogs on the festival – I was going to go and didn’t. I can’t believe the comments about making money back.

Obviously the vintage scene is just another market to be exploited. And that’s very sad. So many festivals at least start with the right ethos, and this seems to have started with the worst.

Sarah commented on Aug 16 10 at 8:08 pm

He may not want a business that takes six years to wash it’s face, but he seems to be trying to achieve it by asking everyone else to wipe his arse for free.

polly commented on Aug 16 10 at 8:19 pm

Polly, superb comment that succinctly captured everything in one sentence!

Tara commented on Aug 17 10 at 3:50 pm

I agree with you whole heartedly. I had a good time but mainly because I thought the atmosphere in parts was really good (Chap Olympics in the pouring rain) but for the most part it was all a bit too commercial for my liking and I did feel a bit letdown. I think it tried to be all things to all men and the sponsorship and money making were horrible (£12 for a programme?! Why not just make a paper version for £3?!) Not sure I’d go again, would depend on a lot of factors.

Amy commented on Aug 16 10 at 8:54 pm

Oh deary me. It doesn’t surprise me in the slightest which is why I didn’t break a leg to go.

Setting up and establishing a new form of ‘festival’ can only mean one thing…commercialism and where Mr Hemmingway is… etc. The long lead time of pre promotion and constant updates on FB etc killed it for me months ago. In the words I was taught as a PR, “Don’t believe the hype.”

Real vintage exploits are best left to passionate enthusiasts.

Katie Chutzpah commented on Aug 17 10 at 9:12 am

I totally agree. It’s such a shame because I was so looking forward to it. Me and my sister both found it so commercial and like you said, after paying £50 or so for a ticket, you expect to get something back, but it seemed that all activities and everything else cost extra.

We went for the day and really wanted to have a go at one of the workshops or have our hair done, but after arriving early at 11 we discovered both had been booked for the whole day by people visiting the day before. Quite disappointing all round and I don’t think I would go again.

Heather commented on Aug 17 10 at 10:54 am

Why is anyone surprised that the organisers wanted to make money? They didn’t do it out of the goodness of their hearts. And how could anyone involved in any of the ‘vintage’ scenes in the UK expect this to be a true depiction of our lifestyle(s)?

I think the people from the vintage scenes are looking at this the wrong way – it wasn’t meant to be a celebration of vintage lifestyles. From the start it seemed to me that VaG was about British youth culture, and a celebration of the various tribes that had sprung up since the 1950s. You only have to look at the lineup of musicians and DJs to see that – jazz, swing, R&B, R&R, rockabilly, soul, funk, reggae, punk and straight up rock from The Faces, catering for everyone from Teds, Mods, Rockers, Skinheads, Soulboys and Rockabillies through to the current tribes of Chaps and 40s revivalists. This was about the fun we had as teenagers, and was an opportunity to see some legendary musicians and dance to records played by some of the worlds greatest DJs. I’ve been doing this vintage thing, wearing 40s and 50s menswear, since the late 1970s, and I can’t remember ever spending three days having this much fun, or enjoying this variety of music, in all that time.

I didn’t think it was overpriced – for my £135 I got to see Ann Sexton, Joe Bataan, The Buzzcocks, The Faces, The Caezars, Leroy Hutson, Jessie & The Orbits, Wanda Jackson, and Kid Creole & The Coconuts; and I relived my teens and early 20s dancing to records played by Jay Strongman, Ian Dewhirst and Chris Hill.

Yes, it’s a real shame that the organisers appear to have been so arrogant, and I can understand the ill-feeling felt by some of the people involved, but on the other hand the few stall holders I spoke to on Sunday evening were very happy with the way the weekend had gone and were looking forward to next year.

If it happens again next year, and if the music is of the same quality as it was this year, I’ll certainly go again. And again, I won’t expect it to be anything other than a great weekend in a big field.

Salv commented on Aug 17 10 at 11:39 am

Salv – really pleased you enjoyed it, would be a shame if you didn’t. You hit the nail on the head in your comment though with ‘They didn’t do it out of the goodness of their hearts’. They certainly didn’t, yet did you know about 90% of the people who worked there didn’t get paid? of course the big name acts had to, but why did everyone else have to out of the goodness of their hearts? I can assure you that doesnt normaly happen.

admin commented on Aug 17 10 at 11:58 am

Here is a letter I am sending to the marketing people…..

Vintage at Goodwood —- GLAMPING

Definition of Glamping : a luxury form of camping which includes expensive equipment, high-class facilities, luxury food and drink, etc

I thought you would like some feedback with regard to our experience of the Vintage Festival held over the weekend.
We took four children and rented a 6 man Indian reservation Tipi for £1,200.
We were looking forward to the “luxurious tipi’s nestled in festoon lit trees and around campfires.”
Indeed, the imagination was further sparkled knowing we would have a “VIP camping assistant, roomy and comfortable accommodation with fully inflated airbeds, posh loos and showers and a bacon butty and cuppa delivered each morning”……….bring it on!!
“ We have pitched several luxurious tipis and a sprinkling of little yurts in this Indian Reservation style camp, sitting between the festoon-lit trees and round our (very safe) campfires. It goes with out saying that we also have proper showers and loos at your disposal in order to ensure that only glam campers emerge from the glam camping “
Nothing could have been further from the truth……suffice to say it was a disaster, the GLAMPING was GLAMBOLIC.
A total and utter waste of money…. 1200 pounds worth of waste!
The reality…..
We arrived early Thursday afternoon and had to park some 8oo+ yards away from the tipi’s. Thus, the whole paraphernalia associated with camping had to be carted down to the awaiting tipi. With 4 kids of 12 and under, it wasn’t a pleasant experience.
It wasn’t as if the field was level, so we had to traipse up and down car to tipi a number of times….not a good start.
We were located at the bottom of the sloping field, separated from the main campers by wire fencing, as you may find on a building site.
In fact, the idyllic website picture of the “reservation” was rather like one of those pictures you see of hamburgers and sandwiches etc, and when you receive the order, the reality is far from it.
The luxurious tipi has 3 under inflated air mattresses in it….(which, even after requesting further air from our “VIP assistant”, remained ignored).
Anyhow, we got on with it and “moved in”.
The tipi let in lots of draughts as the canvas didn’t meet the ground sheet and the door flap constantly blew open through the night. As a result, each night we were cold and, as we were on a slope, constantly sliding off our beds.
The tipi let in the rain through the roof opening soaking our beds. We did receive attention for this and polite attention may I say…..they advised that this was to be expected and one needs to know which way the rain is falling to be able to set the “roof water catcher” correctly! We were then given tarpaulin to protect our things from any more rain.
There were no campfires of any type in existence.
In the morning, the queue for the showers was around 8-10 people long.
The showers did have hot and cold running water. Sometimes they ran hot….sometimes they ran cold…and sometimes they didn’t run at all! The drainage wasn’t effective, thus, you showered with feet in the dirty water of the foot tray, from you and others. They were poorly maintained.
The toilets were too few and far from posh. More toilets did appear on Sunday morning. If I were to rate the posh loos and showers per a standard campsite, I would rate a 1star….we bought into 5 or even 6 star facilities and were let down badly.
There were no changing rooms for those wanting to “vintage up” for the occasion……agreed, this wasn’t promised, though the real campers (on the other side of the fence) had quite a number of specific ”dressing room” cubicles with mirrors, hairdryer points and shelves. In our posh loos there were a total of two mirrors above the sinks in which all the women were trying to wash, do their make-up, and hair, though it was not possible to wash your hair as there were no facilities to dry it.
The promised bacon butties and tea didn’t arrive on Friday morning at all…even after ordering ours at the reception area, they were seemingly given to others. The situation improved on Saturday morning when a catering truck was sent down….the Saturday queue was around a 25 minute wait.
Transport to the “Festival entrance” was non existent. Thus, we had to walk further than any others to get to the main entrance.
There was a reception area within the “Glamping” area. I needed to charge my phone as we needed to keep in contact with the kids during the day, amongst other things. I asked reception if I could charge it with them. The reply was…if you are in the tipi’s they are not our responsibility and we are not your reception, and therefore, no we cannot charge it…you need to ask at the Tangerine tent, a different company who erected the tipi’s.
Off I went in search of the Tangerine tent & power.
My request at the Tangerine tent was met by “we don’t charge phones”…which then moved on to…”Well, we could charge it, but we would have to charge you!”
“How much”, I enquired……”How long do you want it charged for”, came the reply…..”Five minutes?” I replied…..
”How about £2?”, was the response….!!!!
The conversation moved on as you may imagine, and another of the Tangerine workers then concluded, his boss wouldn’t allow it as phones could be stolen….and that “many promises had been made by Goodwood that couldn’t be kept and we are just here to put up tents”………thanks for that then!
The two tipi’s next to us were occupied by teenagers and whilst we have all been there, it wasn’t a pleasant place to be at 2.30am or so, at a cost of £1,200!
We left on Sunday, rather than the planned Monday, as the Glamping was so disappointing.
On a positive note, we managed to get assistance, from a girl on a buggy, to move all our gear back to the car. Many others were not as fortunate!
So, what is our conclusion….?
We bought into a glamorous camping experience at a glamorous price, and received little in return.
We would have been much better off paying camping fees and erecting our tents in the standard area…cost for the weekend…£30 or so.
I can only conclude that we have been severely ripped off.
We bought into something that wasn’t delivered, big time.
If it had been a shop, I would have returned the goods and received back my money…faulty goods, not fit for purpose.
We are all massively disappointed with the experience and would appreciate your comments. I am happy to discuss the matter on a face to face basis with anyone in a position of serious responsibility, as we have paid for something we didn’t receive.
I think I saw more complaining people over the weekend in that Glamping area than I have ever seen before in such a confined space, so I am sure you are well aware of the serious deficiencies.
On a final note, once in the Festival area, we enjoyed it and thought for the first one, it was done pretty well.

Nigel Barker commented on Aug 17 10 at 1:10 pm

I can really sympathize with the campers experiences, however, as a day tripper with my family in tow, I had a fantastic time!
I loved the mix of old and new and was quite happy to pay the eight pounds for my vintage poster and twenty for a t-shirt for my son…cheap compared to his Superdry collection!
I loved the roller disco…as did my nine year old and the crazy man with a fake moustache. Great bands, amazing clothing and I will be back next year!

Pam commented on Aug 17 10 at 6:00 pm

Pam, I am really glad you enjoyed it. I hope everyone who paid for a ticket did. This insider blog is meant to highlight the effort of everyone who worked hard to provide that authentic vintage experience who did it for free whilst WH admitted to the FT what his main aim was, whilst paying practically no-one who made it special.

admin commented on Aug 17 10 at 6:35 pm

I just wanted to clear something up with the “glamper” who said that we ordinary campers had plaves to dry hair etc.
We arrived on Friday afternoon to be stuck at the top of the hill in what equated to a cattle market, with no real room to pitch anything, despite being promised much more glamourous conditions that ordinary festival camping. We were immediately faced with over a quarter of a mile walk to the ” posh” showers, or use the four showers at the top of the field designated to the hundreds of people at our end of the field. A sever lack of toilets that immediately blocked and locked facilities, did nothing but add to the sinking feeling that came over us as the sunset on Friday.
We hoped for a better start to the day on Saturday, so wandered the huge distance to the posher showers, only to face an hour long wait for a stone cold shower, such as the dribble of water was, in a non draining filthy shower. Hair drying facilities in the shower blocks were non existent, despite me e mailing the day before to check this and being assured there were power points in the blocks. As for the dressing rooms…..a handful of garden shed some with power some without, some with mirrors and some without, that we didn’t get anywhere near as the massive queue meant abandoning any plans to glam up, as we coolant been get clean and dry our hair, let alone glam up! Then the massive walk back up a very steep hill to get dressed in something warm and practical, because at the top of the hill there was no shelter from the biting wind and the muddy sloppy path back down the hill, ensured that the glam shoes were swapped for wellies as the only possible practical footwear.
All in all more than disappointing. We spent half the morning queuing for basic necessities only to be disappointed again!
I realise that public camping was cheap, but it was grim and something we won’t repeat. We only camped because we were promised something upmarket and what we for was typical festival fare. Appalling.
I agree that the tipi’s looked like they had been fenced off in a ‘ special way’ , mo care in the community that glamping! If I’d paid that amount of money I’d want a personal discussion with Mr Hemingway et al and my money back too. Good luck with that.

Gaynor commented on Aug 17 10 at 9:08 pm

What a shame so many people left with a bad taste, such an amazing event with so many wonderful people contributing for the love of the things they do. The moral between some of these people did seem low, I hope that it will be better for everyone as it goes forward or it may go backwards!

Lucinda Hollingsworth commented on May 31 11 at 12:56 pm

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