'Looking for '70s or '80s clothing? Here is a north London gem'

Sarah Khan, owner of SK Vintage, Fortess Road, Kentish Town

Sarah Khan with a vintage jumper for sale in her shop SK Vintage in Kentish Town - Credit: Russell Bentley

The joys of being a resting actor... what, I hear you cry, are the joys?

Well, when out of work we have to keep body and soul alive. A quick dip in the 10 degree temperature of the lido and a catch up with the regulars. Driving back to my new abode in Archway, passing down Fortess Road with its array of independent coffee shops I discover a shop window unlike another. In fact I promptly turned the car around hastily to inspect the window closer. A gorgeous American Letterman jacket from 1971 drew me into this new world where I met Sarah Khan, the owner of this vintage emporium.

During my visit an American customer from New York was raving about the aesthetic of the shop and the rails of wonderful women’s vintage collections from the 1970s to the present, and I can see why. Pastel colours, gingham, reds and flowing Biba-esque dresses. The décor in the shop was also sublime and inspirational, prints of Kate Moss, hanging beige baskets. A little piece of Portobello in Kentish Town.

Last month I spoke about toys that are reused for families and children to enjoy, with a narrative and history of their own and Sarah’s vintage boutique, SK Vintag, tells a not dissimilar story. She is the perfect ambassador for her collection in a fabulous French work jacket, navy blue boiler suit completed with a pair of Nike high tops with a yellow swoosh. It’s definitely a family affair here as she shares clothes with her fashionable daughter who helps her compile her shops Instagram account, while her son models the collection.

Russell Bentley made a documentary about the characters and history behind the launderette in Englan

Russell Bentley made a discovery on Fortess Road - Credit: Archant

Sarah has been at the shop for seven years and prior to that had a stall at Camden passage for 11 years. Sick of being outside, this shop became available and being a local resident it felt a good time to shut up shop outside so to speak and began her new venture.

With the recent struggles of the high street, retail shops' consumers want clothing with a history, and a back story of their own.

Perhaps more importantly, stresses Sarah, it’s the quality of her clothing and fabrics that aren’t found outside a designer emporium, and even then you mightn’t find something unique that someone else doesn’t have.

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Here you most certainly do. It’s a real talking point when someone is wearing an item of interest, be it a dress, sweater, even a T-shirt, and when Sarah brought out some vintage rock band T-shirts from the mid 1980s to show me, my interest was piqued further.

Sarah gets her stock from private dealers and often that indicates the style and looks of the individuals who wore them. Some of her collection is from northern France, and prior to Covid  she was visiting the country up to four times a year. But during a holiday in the south of France, Sarah would visit the markets of Provence, ensuring that even on family time she’s never quite away from her love of clothing.

The 1970s and the 1930s are Sarah’s main influence and the 1970s are her best-selling pieces. She holds up a 1970s Wallis striped blazer that sits proudly in the window as an example of her ode to this period. What sets Sarah’s shop apart is her inclusivity. Whether it’s a £15 or £25 scarf to a highly collectible Thea Porter dress by the sought after British designer there is something here for every fashionista with a budget big or small.

You definitely can’t put a price tag on style, creativity and imagination but SK Vintage possesses these traits in abundance. If you want a little bit of Portobello in Kentish town I implore you to come down.

Find SK Vintage on Instagram @sk_vintage

Russell Bentley is a Belsize Park actor and writer whose documentary on England’s Lane's Launderette was released in 2019.