Leftovers is an Antique and Vintage shop located in Brixton Village, an art deco covered market in Brixton that just a short while ago was destined for demolition. For a long time, Brixton was not a neighborhood where polite Londoners would venture. In the popular mind, it was inevitably linked with the urban riots of the 1980's. By day, it was a place of squaking street vendors, meat wholesalers, and greengrocers, a crowded urban mix of over a score of different nationalities. By night, the streets would give up their color and noise and take on a more sinister and derelect aspect. This was not always the case. A century before, this is where fashionable Londoners would live and shop. As the home of Britain's first department store, it spearheaded a commercial revolution that forever changed urban mores.
Today Brixton is in full transformation and is beginning to recover its former lustre. At the heart of its renaissance are the independent shops that have sprouted up over the last several years in Brixton Village and Market Row adjacent to it. Leftovers is one of those shops. The energy and creativity that these « independents » have brought to Brixton has prompted the BBC to consider its experience as "the way forward" for urban renewal. Once again, it seems, Brixton may be pioneering fundamental changes in urban mores.
Brixton Village is at the heart of the transformation of Brixton. It « is no Spitalfields, no sterile Covent Garden », a reviewer has written. This is where « real Londerers [now] come to eat, talk and shop. » It all began in October of 2010. At the time, every second unit in the Brixton Village Arcade was vacant. Then the landlords approach Lambeth Council, hoping to do something creative with their empty shops and attract new tenants into the bargain. The Council introduced them to Space Makers, an agency which specialises in finding ways to make the best use of underused urban space. They persuaded LAP to hand over 20 empty units for a threemonth rentfree trial period and advertised for participants. Dougald Hine, the founder of Space Makers, put it this way: “We were looking for a mix of temporary projects that would bring energy and attract people back to the market, and also businesses we thought had a real chance of being able to make it in the long term.” In an open competition, 98 people applied for a space and 30 were chosen. “We prioritised people who already had an association with Brixton but we were also looking for ideas that wouldn't compete with existing businesses and that would connect with those in the market already.”
Leftovers was among the 30 chosen and opened its doors in December of 2010. It sells antique costumes, vintage clothes and accessories, mainly sourced in Paris, southern France and America. Among its collection are 19th century dresses, blouses, and shawls. It has dresses from the turn of the last century and an array of dresses and costumes from the roaring twenties, thirties, and forties. Its fifties' items come mainly from Paris and New York but have also included dresses from Hollywood and the Cote D'Azur. Leftovers changes its collection seasonally , it is often recognized in the market by a rack of antique white blouses, nightgowns and linens. Inside can also be found leather goods, belts, shoes, purses and handbags, once again, mainly from the thirties, forties and fifties. Antique jewelry, laces, collars and fabric as well as vintage buttons and clasps draw the attention of designers and funky tins, old boxes and toys amuse the curious and casual shopper. Leftovers also has an assortment of antique French childrens' clothes and handmades.
The FrancoAmerican owner, Margot Waggoner, was raised in Paris,Boston, Cairo, and Washington DC. After studying fashion design in Paris, she trained with Alexander McQueen and Brigitte Campagne, whose 11th arrondisement shop in Paris – Ancienne Mode contains one of the most important collections of antique clothing in France. It is a must stop for big name designers from Milan, Paris, New York, and Japan seeking inspiration for new creations. It furnishes costumes for the Paris Opera and Paris theatre and has been mined by set designers in countless films. Ancienne Mode is more than a 'shop', It stores a large share of a rich patrimony of France. Leftovers is also attracting its share of designers. Margot is frequently asked to lend her items for fashion shoots, plays or impromptu performances.
Designers are always exciting customers to deal with and it is a pleasure to discuss shop with people with trained eyes but it is even more pleasurable to share in the enthusiasm of the casual shopper that comes into her store. She gladly makes herself availabe for their questions. She also personally tags each dress and many other items for them to draw attention to fine workmanship and details that may be missed.
"I like to personalize the items in the store as much as possible"
She love to find items in things she buys that indicate the personality of the former owner. She found movie ticket stubs from Cannes in a coat from a person who likely attended the film festival there. She has also found old Opera tickets in pockets. She leaves all name tags attached to clothing. These are all quintessentially French names and can identify items belonging to sailors or kids at summer camp. In an elegant 1940's clutch, she found a menu from the 1940's. This was a commemorative dinner on the anniversary of the end of World War II. « It was a five course affair – which doesn't jive with the idea of postwar austerity that we were taught. She has also found voting ballots in a purse from a presidential election in the 1950's. " I leave all these items where I found them and point them out to their buyers " Margot says .
Leftovers has frequently been favorably reviewed in London newspapers and magazines (Vogue, Numero, Fudge,Time out, Little Things... ) . It is also cited by numerous fashion bloggers and Trendy City Guides (Time out, Lomography...) Each year, London's Time Out researches the Hundred Best Shops in the city – from high end department stores to the funkiest niche shops. Leftovers made the list along with a handful of other vintage shops.