“The aim of Swanky Pins Retro Lingerie is to inspire both women and our male wearers of all ages, shapes, and sizes feel the best you possibly can by bringing a little glamour & elegance to whats beneath your everyday clothing. We want to create an easy and enjoyable shopping experience throughout our website to enable our customers to feel confident about shopping with us, be able to contact us with any queries, and feel good about themselves when wearing our products.”
“If we get it wrong – be sure we will make it right” Debbie
Firstly, I would like to thank you for visiting the Swanky Pins Website and hope you like it. Launched in the first part of 2016, it is a lot more customer friendly than our original Swanky Pins Fashion Hosiery site which was launched in 2012, with a more advanced search facility, colour filtering, wishlist, languages and customer reward points for purchases, referrals and reviews.
My passion is the 1950’s. I grew up listening to my father’s old Bill Haley and Buddy Holly records but turned to the punk scene when it first began as it was new, exciting and the dress code infuriated my parents (which as a teenager seemed ‘cool’) – to the extent they used to drive me to the station just so the neighbours didn’t see me and my friends going out. All our clothes came from ‘Let it Rock’ / Sex in the Kings Road and were pretty weird to the unitiated I guess.
One day when I was 17 my brother came home with a record by The Flying Saucers called ‘Planet of the Drapes’ which I listened to over and over again – it was a turning point for me and from then on I was hooked on Rock n Roll and all things ’50’s.
At this time was a huge revival scene which was made up of original teds and rockers from the ’50’s plus a massive influx of younger generation r ‘n’ r fans. Some of the original bands / singers were still performing and we managed to see many of the greats including Bill Haley and the Comets at Woolwich Odeon, Chuck Berry in Lewisham as well as Carl Perkins, Mac Curtis, Clarence ‘frogman’ Henry and many more.
Everything in my life revolved around the 50’s – the cars & motorbikes, the furniture, the clubs, the weekenders – even my holidays abroad were taken with 100’s of others from the scene. We also only wore original clothing, at that time there weren’t many reproductions available and those that wore them were ridiculed as ‘plastics’. Everything we wore (except men’s drapes which were made at tailors) came from vintage shops/stalls – dresses, skirts, jumpers, leather jackets, shoes, stockings, and all our lingerie. We had ‘pan-stick’ make-up and ‘spit-on’ mascara rather than the ‘modern stuff’ as it was more authentic.
Forgive me for rambling, I think its a typical human trait to ramble about things they are passionate about even if not everyone is interested.
My 3 children and I moved to Spain in 2002 where I lived and worked happily as an estate agent for 8 years, but was forced to return to the UK due to the recession (after a brief 6 month period working in Turkey to try and avoid coming back).
With no money, no job and no idea what to do, I ‘fell’ into hosiery quite by accident. I bought a pair of over knee socks for my daughter and pressed on a seam of crystals with a satin bow at the top. She didn’t like them so I put them on Ebay and they sold immediately so I made more. Then I found some still sealed fully fashion stockings in a charity shop and sold them on Ebay too. The hosiery ‘business’ had begun.
In 2011 I heard of a new government backed project being launched called the New Enterprise Scheme whereby you had to submit a full business plan and if accepted you would be paid a small weekly sum for 6 months whilst setting up a new business and then were given £1,000 loan at the end of it. I’m not sure what I was thinking – setting up a website, marketing and stocking that website cannot be done for £1,000 but I jumped at it anyway and was accepted.
It has been 12 years since I submitted my business plan with that scheme and Swanky Pins has changed a lot in since then. We stock far more lingerie than hosiery now, have included many of our own designs, and focused more on the retro styles that I have always had a passion for. In fact, I still have some of my original 1950’s lingerie and stockings, and although some items are pretty uncomfortable to wear compared to today’s modern fabrics, I use them to base ideas on.
I love the glamour of the 50’s – it was an era where the women always seemed to look so ‘perfect’ – from glamorous pin-up girls and the stars of the big screen, to the ‘humble’ housewife, whose husband never came home to his wife cooking dinner in a towelling dressing gown, fleecy pyjamas and a large pair of animal shaped furry slippers.
Now there are 2 of us that work full time on the business – plus my daughters Coral & Stephanie who help with marketing, writing, advice and occassionally model my projects for me, my son Ashley who does the accounts (and is also useful for sizing for male wearers) and Sue the seamstress who is currently working on some gorgeous French Knickers for us. Having different generations working on the same business is great and has many benefits as we can get contrasting insights into ‘what people want’. The two dogs Clyde (a Pomeranian) and Lexi (the Shih Tzu) also deserve a mention as although they are more of a hindrance than a help, they do often forego their walks because we are too busy.