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Birmingham charity shop launches clothing hospital to operate on cherished clothes

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Birmingham charity shop launches clothing hospital to operate on cherished clothes


Published by Sarah Thomas for Reach the People Charity in Housing and also in Communities

Shop volunteer Charles Tsua measures up a customer for at Forgotten Vintage in Birmingham. Shop volunteer Charles Tsua measures up a customer for at Forgotten Vintage in Birmingham.

Birmingham’s first retro and vintage charity shop is calling on people across the city to recapture the ‘make do and mend’ attitude of the 1940s with the launch of a clothing hospital to repair items for shoppers.

Forgotten Vintage, in Great Western Arcade, Colmore Row, was recently opened by city charities Trident Reach the People Charity, which provides houisng and support to vulnerable people across the region, and homeless charity Sifa Fireside to raise money for tackling homelessness in Birmingham.

Shop manager Carl Franklin said the new Clothing Hospital and Tailoring Service will run from a room in the basement of the store and will carry out a range of repairs from replacing buttons to relining coats to discourage people from resigning fashions from bygone days to the scrap heap.

The Clothing Hospital also includes the launch of a professional tailoring service to create custom outfits such as vintage waistcoats and dresses from scratch in the style of yesteryear and the shop will be running masterclasses in sewing and knitting over the coming months to teach people the basics.

Carl said: “Vintage fashion is really popular but can come with a hefty price tag and with the way things are with the economy, people just don’t have that kind of spare money. Also, we get lots of people coming into the shop asking for really specific items. Even if we do have what they’re looking for, there’s the chance that it’s not in their size so this is a way of making vintage fashion affordable.”

Shop volunteers Charles Tsua and Palvika Rathod will be designing and creating outfits for shoppers and also carrying out repairs that come into the Clothing Hospital.

Palvika (28), from Bearwood, started studying science before deciding to focus on her love of vintage fashion and is self-taught. Some of the dresses already on sale in the shop have been made by her from vintage material so are one-off pieces.

She said: “A lot of what I make is from recycled fabrics and the Clothing Hospital will be a great way of us taking things people would either throw away or want to donate to the charity that might need repairs as it will stop people getting rid of perfectly good clothes. We’ll carry out surgery to the clothes or use them to create new things such as turning an old dress into a bag.”

Charles (28), from Kingstanding, is a self-taught tailor and added: “I have been making waistcoats, trousers and some accessories for a while and have received a lot of praise for the quality of my work. It is quite rare to be able to get a good quality item of vintage clothing made without paying high city tailor prices. By offering this service through the charity shop, we are making this fashion more accessible so hope it will be a real success.”

Richard Leighton, in-house social entrepreneur at Trident Reach the People Charity, said: “It is great to see the charity shop really encouraging people to get items repaired and offering the skills to do this so that people are encouraged not to throw things away that could be given a new lease of life.”

Simon Hackett, SIFA Fireside Development Manager, added: “We are continuing to accept donated clothes. If anyone has anything to donate please bring them direct to the shop.”

Forgotten Vintage is also appealing for people to donate vintage materials, such as old curtains, that could be transformed into clothing and accessories. Items can be dropped into the shop in Great Western Arcade, Colmore Row, or arrangements can be made with shop manager Carl Franklin on 07564 603 936 or at


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