An Interview with Malcolm from The Assembly Rooms

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Malcolm, the man who owns the largest vintage clothes collection in Lancaster, is the kind of rare person who you meet once or twice in a lifetime. A man who clearly lives life to it’s very full, and yet self-admittedly never takes it too seriously. Born in 1939, Malcolm has lived all over the world, starting off at Liverpool Institute studying at Art School to later become a pattern cutter. He went to school with the likes of Paul McCartney and George Harrison and later became good friends with Ringo Starr. He has met designers such as Ossie Clark, and can boast involvement in fashion shows in Germany and Holland.

He lived in these countries, and also visited San Francisco in the 60s and 70s. Bringing back jeans and Elvis records on his return to England, his group of friends were known as ‘Liverpool Yanks.’ He was the cool teddy-boy, one of the rare youth-group members who wore denim, pink shirts, and rode a Vespa as a means of transport rather than a mere fashion statement. “When I was a teenager growing up in the 50s and 60s, everything was fresh, new and exciting.” “In my scooter riding youth I was a 50s Teddy Boy, wearing coloured shirts and suede shoes, you could look really unique because everything was so new, not like your Dad who only wore a white or blue shirt. I had the pleasure of experiencing everything first hand.”

This fresh vitality is still present in Malcolm’s demeanour – he spent over 2 hours with us sourcing different clothes and styles, whilst providing us with information and nostalgia from different fashion eras. When asking him about his favourite era, he responded: “To me, there’s a difference between men and women and that was shown in my favourite fashion era, the 50s…I love the femininity of the full skirted dresses which had real movement to them when you went dancing.”

“When you’re young you feel like you will live forever, you have years of life ahead of you.” “If you think about it, today is already going to be history by tomorrow; sometimes we don’t always grab every opportunity.” “Remember, it’s only 32,000 miles around the globe, so you’re never more than 16,000 miles from home, you can always go back if you don’t like it!” Malcolm emphasised that life is long, rather than short, and as long as we search for them, we will find ample opportunities to make lives for ourselves. His outlook is one of total positivity, and he recommends travel as a way of finding happiness.

The Assembly Rooms shop is stacked floor to ceiling with costumes – the walls cannot be seen amongst the masses of materials and colours.  “This room is just the tip of the iceberg!” Malcolm has stock and contacts all over the country (in fact, all over the world) and if there is something specific you are looking for, it’s more than likely that he will be able to source something for you. “I’ve got so many things in here in bags, under rails, hung up under other things that you’re best just to ask if you’re looking for something specific!” In terms of affordability, we couldn’t believe how cheaply things were priced, a genuine 1930’s mink fur coat for only £30-40?! “I just want to get rid of it really” said Malcolm. “I think young people are so interesting and I know that students are often lacking in money, I’ll always try to help them out with swaps, exchanges or part exchanges.”

“I think that since we are all unique people anyway, why not dress uniquely? Vintage fashion is a great way to do this since no one will ever be wearing the same as you.” This view is something to bear in mind when considering the purchases we make; to wear vintage clothing is to make a statement of individuality. Vintage pieces are timeless, classic and unique. If you want an improved wardrobe at a fantastic price, then visit Malcolm. He will also tell you exactly the source of your purchase – where it came from and the story that comes with it. His collection is a timeless treasury of the wonderful and weird, and you will not enter without leaving with a huge amount of inspiration.

 

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