Founder of vintage fashion boutique the Merchant Archive, Sophie Merchant offers her advice on shopping for a retro wardrobe 

How did Merchant Archive come to be?

A series of chance meetings led to Sienna and Savannah Miller coming to look at a collection of vintage clothes I had at collected over the years. Encouraged by their interest and friends I took half of a shop in Queen’s Park. The rest is history. I owe them a thank you. 

You used to be a dental hygienist, were you dressed to the nines and dreaming of fashion in those days?

I’ve always been fascinated by the fashion industry. I had wanted to study fashion from 13 years old, but when you grow up on a farm in Somerset its really not the done thing. I rebelled, moved to Ibiza and when I finally returned dental nursing and subsequently hygiene was where I found myself. I was lucky enough to work in a wonderful practice on Harley street with an incredible team, but I think if you dream and think about something for long enough its eventually happens . I always say Merchant Archive just rose up like a phoenix, but it has actually been years of dedication and hard work.

Is there any piece of clothing from your childhood you wish you had now?

My Aunt wore a wonderful large rimmed floppy hat to her wedding. It was the 70s and she looked so bohemian and rebellious. I’d like that hat.

Did you design clothes when you were younger?

When I was 10 and my brother Tom, was 9, he was given a scrambler motor bike. We both we spent days making jumps out of straw bales and old doors. When I asked if I could have a motor bike I was bought a sewing machine! I spent a lot of time sewing  and riding motor bikes.

Who would you most like to dress in Merchant Archive clothing?

Oh god, I just love anyone who gets the concept and even those who don’t, but want to have a go.  It’s for any girl who likes quality needs everyday wear or something for an event but is bored of the norm. I always say I want to put the ‘oooh’ back in to shopping. I want people to say ‘oh my god I LOVE it I’ve got to have it.’

Sophie’s tips for shopping vintage:

1  Always try it on, the movement in a true vintage piece will blow your mind.


2  Go to a store where you trust the buying.


3  Ask the staff what might work for you, we pride ourselves on great customer service, let staff bring options to the changing room for you to try.


4  It can always be tailored to fit you.


5  Look for detail, a piece can seem quite plain but there will be a panel or weight that makes it look remarkable on the body. 

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