Ever fancy trying out retro/vintage reproduction clothing, but don’t know quite what to expect?
Or perhaps you’re already into the style, and want to try out every brand imaginable – if only you had the pennies! If that’s the case, you’re probably also on the lookout for some amazing quality brands you haven’t yet heard of.
Either way, I thought I’d pen down my thoughts into a detailed review of some of the best and most well-loved vintage repro brands currently available (both in the UK and internationally)!
Recently, I published an article called Why Modern Women Are Embracing Retro Fashion, in which I included personal and heartwarming stories and experiences from several lovely ladies.
However, I know not everyone is familiar with the style, or if they are, they’re maybe just not quite sure of how certain styles will look on them or whether they have the confidence to wear it on a daily basis – if that sounds like you, my only advice is to take the plunge and try it; trust me, you’ll feel amazing!
So, if you really rather like the look of retro/vintage repro clothing, but just don’t know quite where to start, this guide will give you a better idea of just some of the amazing brands out there currently producing dresses, skirts and outfit combos to die for!
DISCLAIMER: All the views below are entirely my own. I also haven’t included every single vintage repro brand I have heard of (as I’d be here all day), however, you may also want to check out The House of Foxy, Retrolicious, Dolly and Dotty, Nicky Rockets, Hearts ‘n Roses, Hemet, The Pretty Dress Company, Heartless and Folter.
WRITER’S NOTE: I would have loved to include a photo for each brand, but unfortunately I ran over the allowable number of media allowed on this platform!
First on my list is the all-powerful, the stunning, the wallet-breaking Pinup Girl Clothing (AKA PUG), headed by the gorgeous Laura Byrnes. The clothing PUG produce on a (very) frequent basis is enough to break my heart, and I fully admit to being a PUG addict – if only I could afford it all! (Also, customs is a bitch)
Some of my very favourite pieces are by PUG, but the site also stocks some other brands, such as Folter, Bernie Dexter and Voodoo Vixen (amongst others). The quality of PUG’s own brands is usually amazing, with full skirts and beautifully constructed dresses and separates. Plus, every year their Halloween collection is something to aspire to.
There’s also a large range of sizes and gorgeously diverse styles to suit just about anyone, so I highly recommend checking them out! They might also send you a nice bag as a freebie! (Also, I tend to look at PUG as investment pieces that will last for years to come – that makes me feel better when I look at my bank account)
The only reason I’m marking the quality down a little is the occasional issue with quality control and inconsistent sizing; something that I’m still hearing about from customers. However, the good news is that PUG have listened to us online and now seem to be providing sizing advice and guidance along with the usual size guide –hurrah!
UK brand Collectif have some wonderful styles, including the famously flattering Dolores and Trixie dresses. I’m personally quite a big fan of their quirkier prints (for instance, the latest paper doll cut-out Willow dress is amazing) and there’s usually at least one or two things in their collection that I’m happy to buy – despite the fact their prices seem to be on the increase recently.
Like a few companies on this list, no-one’s perfect, and there is the occasional quality issues – such as pockets not fully being sewn shut, seams needed reinforced etc. – but I’ve never really experienced any issues myself (only heard about them from others!).
The sizing itself is usually very spot-on, if ever-so-slightly generous, and I’m pleased to say I always know what size to order in Collectif. Plus, the sizing advice provided is usually very helpful. Plus, if you’re in the UK, quick delivery via DPD is a plus, and usually not a sticking point despite the £5.50 standard charge.
If you’re lucky, your order might also come with a nice little bag and mirror to go with it!
TIP: You may find certain items will sell out in Collectif after being online for a little while, but in that case, I can usually haul ass to TopVintage or other online boutiques and find the item I need there, instead. These have been a lifesaver in the past!
Next up is a brand which continues to hold a special place in my heart – Hell Bunny! I’d say this is actually the brand that first got me into the pin-up/vintage repro style, as I instantly fell in love with their flattering yet quirky and often quite dark styles – especially for someone coming from the gothier side, I loved it!
Even now, I probably own more Hell Bunny dresses than any other brand. The sizing is always very good, if not a little generous (especially the shirred styles, which you may want to size down in), and I’m usually very confident when ordering myself an ‘S’ – I’ve never really had any quality issues either, apart from one faulty zip!
The range of Hell Bunny styles out there is simply staggering; the brand has been going for so long that even now I’m coming across styles I wasn’t actually aware of before – and their more recent stuff is still gorgeous. The brand’s style seems to range from cute and quirky, to dark and gothic (verging into sister brand Spin Doctor’s territory), and then all the way over to vintage and kitschy.
Some of my favourite Hell Bunny dresses include the Geisha, Mexico dress and a lovely wintery forest animals print dress called the Hermeline – but really, there’s too many to mention here!
Another reason I love Hell Bunny is that most of the time, it’s very affordable – especially if you’re ordering from shops such as Tigermilly or Ripley’s Clothing, both of which also seem to have things reduced. I’m also a huge fan of picking up a good Hell Bunny bargain on eBay! (I’ve never actually ordered from the official shop, so can’t really comment on the service there)
I first started buying boleros and cardigans from Banned, as their range seemed to perfectly complement my Hell Bunny dresses. However, it soon became apparent that they actually made dresses, too! I’d say the quality of Banned is right up there with the likes of Hell Bunny, and the sizing is more or less the same, too, but I find this brand to be particularly affordable, and with a great range to boot!
Whether it’s cardigans, dresses, tops, shoes, swimwear… Banned has it all – some under its ‘Dancing Days’ label. So far, there’s only a wholesale website (so I can’t rate the service), but you can find the brand online in stores such as Tigermilly, Blue Banana and Ripley’s Clothing, or also in some of the more alternative high street stores (not forgetting the likes of Amazon and eBay!).
I don’t personally own many actual dresses by Banned (yet), but I’m often surprised by how lovely their stuff is, and they also have their swimwear range spot on! In fact, I bought my last two swimdresses from them, as it was like they had actually read my mind.
If you’re on a budget, I’d definitely recommend checking them out!
I’ve found myself swaying back and forth about Voodoo Vixen over the past year or so, although some of the styles from their latest collection are simply glorious! I do find their collection a bit hit-and-miss (purely down to personal taste), and thought the decision to release the Katnis again in different colours – instead of releasing completely new styles – a while ago to be deeply disappointing.
However, even more disappointing was their decision to limit their sizing by removing the ‘XS’ option from their site – and considering their sizing is on the generous side anyway (an ‘S’ is meant to be an 8, but it fits me perfectly and I’m usually a UK 10 in most dresses), this has really pushed out smaller Bunnies who love their style and just aren’t able to buy anymore – at least not without visiting a tailor at extra expense.
Sort it out, Voodoo Vixen!
Saying that, the quality of the dresses they do produce tends to be very good, (apart from when I was once sent a mislabelled size ‘M’) and most of their clothing I own seems to be quite hard-wearing, which is a definite plus.
They aren’t the most affordable brand out there either, but I have often gone to Blue Banana to find their items quite a bit cheaper than on the official site – so that’s worth a try!
I personally own some lovely dresses from this brand, such as the Katnis (pictured left), the Judy Jetson (featuring fabulous space ladies!) and a lovely, dark mermaid print number.
Without a doubt one of my very favourite dressmakers on here, Victory Parade by Limb are unique in that you can order any dress style on their website, with absolutely any of the fabrics featured – and they’ll make it for you right there and then! (If it isn’t in stock already, that is)
Despite this, the service is surprisingly swift, and the quality standard is exceptionally high. I am giving VP one of the highest ratings I possibly can in this review, and although they are certainly not in the most affordable category, for the quality and choice you’re getting, I’ll say the price is 100% worth it.
I especially love their gorgeous comic print fabrics, along with their Frida print – they also made me feel very special by stocking the dinosaur print I really wanted for a dress, but couldn’t find anywhere! Now I can wear it proudly.
Victory Parade dresses always make me feel amazing, and I can’t say enough kind words about Fran, whom I’ve been in contact with multiple times about my orders. Also, if you order from them and post a photo of yourself looking gorgeous in your new frock, they’ll send you a 10% discount code to use on your next order! Perfect.
So, if you’re looking for that absolutely amazing one-off dress for a wedding, special occasion or just for every day, then I’d really recommend paying them a visit!
A brand I’m always taken aback by, in terms of quality, is Miss Candyfloss. They are based in Sweden, and produce absolutely glorious dresses and separates that seem like they are truly built to last – in my opinion, everyone should own at least one Miss Candyfloss item.
The sizing is pretty much spot on, but just like buying from any vintage repro brand, I advise taking your measurements before ordering, just to be on the safe side. I look at the website as mainly containing some absolutely gorgeous wardrobe staples, but there’s also some lovely evening wear and lovely fabrics that will get you compliments wherever you go!
My favourite Miss Candyfloss dress so far is the Christine-May, described as a Mad Men style swing dress – think glamourous late ‘50s/early ‘60s office wear. This dress just feels so well-made and beautifully constructed, and it’s also very flattering – I just love it! In fact, sometimes I wish I had an office job to go to… actually, nah. I wouldn’t go that far!
I’ve ordered Miss Candyfloss clothing directly from their website before (which took a few days) and also direct from UK seller Didi’s Boutique, but there are other UK stockists, too.
Next up, another very fabulous brand I’d absolutely love to own more of is Bernie Dexter! Unfortunately another US brand, which costs me the Earth in customs charges (not that I’m factoring that into my scores below), Bernie creates some stunning pieces that take pride of place in my wardrobe.
My favourites are my Winter Wonderland dress, Paris ‘Oranges’ dress, and the Amy Manor (pictured). All of Bernie’s clothing seems to be very well-constructed, and the quality is absolutely top-notch, which makes the price you pay really worth it (in my opinion!).
I’ve actually been in communication with Bernie herself a couple of times about my orders, and found her to be extremely helpful and friendly. I cannot really fault the service, and I was over the moon when my Winter Wonderland dress (possibly my favourite dress in the world!) arrived just in time for Christmas last year!
I don’t see Bernie releasing as many new styles as I’d perhaps like, but the workmanship that goes into them really makes up for that – and besides, if she released too many, I’d probably be bankrupt! But on the up-side, she often has discount codes, so it might be worth signing up to her newsletter! (hint, hint)
Word to the wise: some Bunnies have mentioned that Bernie’s dresses seem to fall a little short if you happen to be on the taller side, so it may be worth asking for length advice before ordering. However, I’m 5’4 and I find the length just perfect for me.
In terms of quality and quirkyness, I cannot recommend Pigtails and Pirates enough! P&P is an Australian brand that specialises in making some absolutely amazing handmade pieces, and happened to have two of the prints I couldn’t really find anywhere else!
I instantly fell in love and had to make an order, and despite being nervous about customs charges, it was absolutely fine. I also exchanged a couple of emails with Laura, who was very lovely and helpful when I was making my order.
As with the other handmade dressmakers I’ve mentioned in this review, the price is a bit higher than the likes of Hell Bunny etc. but the quality you’re getting is so worth it – and my Pigtails and Pirates dresses just feel so special. I actually feel amazing in them (pictured left).
I’d say, especially if you love comic and quirky prints, this is one brand you really need to check out – and fast! I’ve had so many compliments on these dresses, and people always ask me where I got them. I will almost definitely be ordering again – thanks, Laura!
Of all the more personal dressmakers on this list, hidden gem Pixxie Rose (on Facebook) is by far the most affordable – despite the quality of her dresses being right up there with the likes of Pigtails & Pirates and Victory Parade. In fact, a few people have actually said that she is perhaps selling herself short, and I agree.
You can go to Pixxie Rose for custom orders, and she has a wide range of fabrics to choose from – or if you really like something in particular, she’ll even order it in for you! Like VP, service is again particularly swift, and I find her very easy to communicate with.
Myself and a few friends have all placed orders from Pixxie, and we’re all amazed by the service she offers – which is why she is getting one of the highest ratings on this list! My favourite dresses from her include a Doctor Who comic print dress (I know, again with the comic prints!) and a lovely tattoo print dress in a fabric I just love.
Her handy size chart will help you choose the right size for you, and for a little extra, she can even add pockets – making us all very happy bunnies indeed!
Affordability: 4.5 /5
If you’re in the UK and looking for a wide range of affordable pinup and vintage repro styles to fill your wardrobe, Lindy Bop is probably one of the first places I’d suggest. They almost always have sale items, but even their usual stuff is surprisingly affordable, and some of their latest range is very, very cute!
The sheer range of clothing the brand produces is just so diverse and gargantuan, so it’s great if you want a massive choice! However, I’ve grown to see Lindy Bop as sort of like late ‘90s, early ‘00s Nokia, in that they overproduce and don’t necessarily pay as much attention to detail on quality or even the type of styles their customers really want.
For instance, I’ve seen many people recently fall in love with their latest prints, such as the Space Dog, but would absolutely kill for the same print in a much lower neckline. I’ve actually got a few friends who buy their stuff and get it tailored to suit the neckline they prefer (I’m not a fan of high necklines, either).
Perhaps a bit more time and research is required.
Saying that, I do have some lovely dresses from Lindy Bop, and one in particular which I absolutely adore (pictured left) - and if I’m on a low budget and need a specific dress for a specific occasion, it can be a good shout. They are also good for work wear!
There’s also a few sizing and quality control issues, both from my end and from reading about various things on the Retro Bunny group I’m a part of. Customer service could perhaps do with pulling their socks up – especially during the sales! (And if you do order during the sale, get on it fast, otherwise you might be disappointed!)
If you love florals, feminine dresses and separates, and want to feel like a real lady, then I’d recommend London-based Lady V – offering vintage repro clothing in sizes 8 – 28. They have some gorgeous dresses, but for me, I just fail to connect with the brand; perhaps because most of their dresses are very girly and floral, and a bit less quirky (again, personal taste).
However, I do own two Lady V dresses now, and would consider ordering again, despite one of them looking a little bit worse for wear after a few washes (I think more down to the fabric than anything else). They offer fast delivery and a swift service, plus their range is quite affordable if you need a dress for a special occasion.
My favourite Lady V dress is a lovely pink and purpley flamingo number, which I seem to be getting on a lot better with. It’s also gotten me quite a few compliments, and I do love a flamingo or two – plus, it’s definitely one of their quirkier fabrics, which suits me just fine! The fabric also seems less prone to fading/bobbling, which is good.
A lot of Lady V dresses look very comfy, and I know quite a few people who swear by them, so I wouldn’t write them off just because I’ve had one slightly less than satisfactory experience. It’s just that a lot of their styles/fabrics don’t appeal to me personally.
For those looking for British made beauties, British Retro is a brand that may or may not already be on your radar. For some reason, I’d managed to forget about them until I had been almost ready to write this article, despite the fact that they sell some absolutely stunning dresses!
Probably my favourite British Retro dress is this naughty British postcards number (pictured left), however, I do own a few of their dresses and I’ll give you one word of warning; MEASUREMENTS. Check ‘em. No, seriously. I find their clothing tends to come out a little on the smaller side (with 0% stretch), so do yourself and favour and make sure it’s going to fit BEFORE ordering.
However, when I have had to send something back, I found customer services were very lovely, and were happy to process my refund quickly. Happy days!
British Retro’s clothing seems to all be made to a very high standard, and with great quality fabric, so no worries there. And some of their pencil dresses look unbelievable – on the models and in real life! So, as long as you pick the right size, this is a brand that will make you feel incredible.
Known best for its cute, punky, edgy and alternative clothing range, Sourpuss is another one I simply couldn’t miss off this list. You’ll find their website offers a great range of clothing, and various other brands on there, too (including Hell Bunny, Iron Fist and Collectif)!
I have a couple of lovely Sourpuss numbers, and will probably pick up a few more over time – they aren’t really known for producing longer styles though, so it may or may not be your bag. Their octopus designs are a particular favourite of mine, but I also have a really cute oxblood velvet dress that is so comfy and very flattering.
Sizing is pretty good, along with the quality – although I can’t really rate the service, as I’ve only ever ordered their items from other sellers. And if you’re in the US (in other words, not paying customs charges), Sourpuss seems particularly affordable.
Affordability: 4.5 /5
Last but not least on my list is Miss Fortune, selling a gorgeous range of dresses and separates. So far I’ve only ordered from here once, but I was very impressed with the skirt I ended up with, and the service was very swift!
The quality is great, and my Day of the Dead ‘Fiesta’ skirt is one of my favourites currently taking pride of place in my wardrobe. Saying that, it does seem to fit just slightly oddly at the waist – that’s probably just me though, and I’m thinking all it needs is taken in by about an inch or so.
Again, follow the size chart closely, and you should have no problems. I’ll certainly be ordering from here again, as there are just so many lovely fabrics and quirky styles to choose from!
Affordability: 3.5 /5
It’s all very well being the one to buy and try out all of these different styles, but what about the other side of things? I was lucky enough to speak to Marie Betty Davis from UK store Didi’s Boutique, to hear things from her perspective:
“I’ve been selling vintage reproduction clothing for four years now. I originally had an online store called Lucy Love's Vintage and 18 months ago I quit my job of 20 years in NHS to run and rebrand Didi's Boutique in Altrincham, UK.
I sell quite a few ranges including Lindy Bop, Dolly and Dotty, Hell Bunny, Victory Parade, Nicky Rockets and Voodoo Vixen. My favourite two brands are Victory Parade and Nicky Rockets. I think it is because they are both family-run small businesses and we have a great rapport.”
But what about the customers themselves? Marie continued:
“What I love about owning a shop with clothing to suit ladies of shapes, sizes and ages is that I get a kick when ladies come in, not thinking that the ‘50s styles will suit them at all, and seeing their eyes light up when they see the dresses surrounding the catwalk in my shop. They usually leave about an hour later, not only with a shopping bag in hand but also a wonderful new-found confidence.”
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my reviews, and congratulations if you’ve made it all the way to the end of this feature! Remember, anyone can wear these fabulous styles, and with so many brands out there catering to all tastes, styles and ages, you’re bound to find something to make you feel amazing!
Good luck, and I wish you all the best in finding your vintage repro style!