Moments down an enchanting street in East London sits a grandiose Holy Trinity Church, known as the Heritage & Arts Centre Bow. If you were lucky enough to walk past on Saturday 21st October, you would’ve seen a crowd of fashion-forward students and designers queuing for Second Life Market’s fourth London takeover of the year.
Rows upon rows of sellers excitedly rush around the building, putting up rails, hanging up clothes, and arranging their stock for the fifth time that morning. The buzz in the room is electrifying, and the anticipation is contagious as ticket-holders at the door break out into discussion on the potential goodies in the hall. May I introduce Second Life Market: home to vintage fashion, handmade jewellery, tooth-gems, and a flash tattooist. I can’t think of a better way to spend my Saturday.
Established in Australia in 2019 by Stella and Meg, the Second Life Movement aims to provide a space where communities of people can find pre-loved pieces that are ‘of higher quality and for an affordable price’. They refute the circular fashion system that our modern society promotes, instead creating an event where ‘you can try something on, know where it came from, chat with the seller, and leave confidently knowing you made the right purchase’.
The event itself began at 10:30 a.m. for early birds and VIPs, while regular entry was 11 a.m. Tickets were set at £7 for early entry, £5 for regular entry, and free for anyone arriving after 3pm; the final hour of the sale. It’s safe to say the market is definitely on the expensive side. If you know you’re going to spend a bit of money here, then the £5 regular entry may be worth it, especially since there were 43 stalls in the market for this October event. Otherwise, arriving for the final hour might be the smarter option.
Beyond the dozens of vintage and pre-loved clothing sellers, a few stalls were more unique in what they had to offer:
Pictured is Tsunari, courtesy of @bdgarms
Specialising in handmade corsets, bdgarms is a small business run by fashion student Bonnie right here in London. Created in Lincoln in 2020, Bonnie recently came out of a short hiatus to get back to designing custom corsets that are her modern take on the traditional style. And with 12k followers on Depop, I’m not surprised this stall was such a hit! Her signature bold graphics and colourful fabrics were expertly placed beside the all-day DJ, resulting in a fluid amalgamation of vibrant colours, catchy tunes, and way more dancing than I’ve experienced at a fashion market before. Bdgarms was really the place to be. Take a peek yourself; search @bdgarms on Instagram.
Photo courtesy of @fangtastikk
Tucked away at the end of the magnificent church was possibly my favourite stall. Fangtastikk presented an array of tooth gems, from raindrops to hearts, and from sapphire to apricot. Another result of lockdown, owner Isabella created the business from home, stating that her reason for getting into tooth gems was that “I want one, so why don’t I do them instead?” The stall was a hit with buyers, and Isabella’s passion for the craft radiated with every person that visited her pitch. The tooth gems started at £30, and with Isabella wanting to do pop-ups in universities and during other events, there’s a chance you’ll catch her to get one of your own. No fear, however, Fangtastikk is also available by appointment. Go over to @fangtastikk on Instagram to arrange your own session with Isabella.
Middle and right images courtesy of @tattsbynaoki
Not to be overlooked, side-by-side with Fangtastikk, sat TattsbyNaoki. Specialising in ‘thin, wonky tattoos’, owner Maria has been tattooing for four years. She provided a spread of fun flash tattoos that customers could choose from, priced at £40 per tattoo. One lucky winner of the Second Life Markets competition won a free tattoo from Maria, choosing a teeny, stylish crown. The pairing of Fangtastikk and TattsbyNaoki couldn’t have worked better. Many didn’t stop at tooth gems and found themselves marvelling over the pretty designs Maria had put together, myself included. Gaggles of buyers gravitated towards her cheerful energy, and TattsbyNaoki became an absolute hit by the end of the day. Search @tattsbynaoki on Instagram to find out more.
The list of fabulous stalls could really go on forever; every pitch was note-worthy in its own respect. Second Life Markets did a brilliant job at curating a mix of vintage and handmade sellers to fill out most of the church, with every single stall wowing the never-ending customers. Outside the front of the church, being no exception, Aria Artisan Pizza and Black Anchor Coffee provided all within with everything needed to shop till they dropped.
As you will already have grasped, this Second Life Market had an endless amount of things to offer. Buyers were able to walk through a portal to all their fashion dreams, grabbing a pizza and latte on the way. Sellers were equally able to interact with potential customers in a warm and dynamic environment, even being interviewed by a small crew within the venue throughout the day.
Overall, the sellers here were welcoming and likeable, and the staff surpassed cheerful; the atmosphere being one of pure eagerness and enthusiasm. There was a much higher array of top-notch vintage clothing than you would find at a kilo sale or thrift store, with every stall having countless iconic pieces. However, this did mean that you wouldn’t get a kilo sale or thrift store price. Everything sat around £40 on average, with some tops or smaller items being slightly cheaper and many jackets and shoes surpassing £60. For this reason, if you want a steal of a deal, this market may not be for you. But if you want to skip the searching through bins at a kilo sale or getting up at the strike of dawn for a car boot, then you should pop along for this one.
The event is perfect for an activity with your friends and a great chance to meet some seriously cool people. These Australian founders are taking over the preloved fashion scene, and if you want to be in with the chance of watching it happen, follow Second Life Markets on Instagram or check out their website to catch their next London event.
Edited by Faye Elder, London and Beyond Editor