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Dog & Bone Vintage: Interview with Nic Barker

Photo by Robin Canfield on Unsplash

Nestled into York’s medieval Castlegate, Dog & Bone Vintage hails passers-by with its bright blue façade. Now a vintage clothing shop, it began as a small stall on a windy racecourse in Brighton in 2011, where its founder, Nic, was trying to sell some of his clothes. From there, it moved onward and northward, eventually setting up shop in Gillygate in 2013, before moving to its current location in 2015. The name, Dog & Bone is a play on words, combining Nic’s surname, Barker, and the rag & bone trade. Nic’s love of vintage clothing, which was well-established during his university days, can be seen in the variety of clothing which fills his shop today, all of which are handpicked from Europe and America, and collectively pay tribute to a range of decades, from the 60s to the early 00s. 

Speaking in an interview with the Yorker, Nic talks about his love of vintage styles and the past, present, and future of his shop.

Q. Do you remember the first piece of vintage clothing you bought and where it was from?

A. So, the back end of 1997, when me and my pals were growing up in Loughborough, we used to visit some shops over in Nottingham – Wild Clothing is still going and still as brilliant as it was back in the day. There were also quite a few places that sold army surplus – I think my first purchase was an old military jacket, at the time I was probably trying to dress like one of The Manic Street Preachers.

Q. Do you have a favourite ‘decade’ when it comes to clothing?

I’ve come to appreciate all eras of vintage really, and the changing styles – I really get a lot of pleasure from items from the 60s/70s and there’s some cool stuff that happened in the 90s too. I really like 20s – 50s US vintage and am an avid collector when I can get hold of it!

Q. What made you choose York as your base?

A. I briefly studied Philosophy here in 2003, before moving to Leeds, then Brighton doing all sorts from Music Tech, and then back to Philosophy. Out of all the places I’ve lived, I’ve always loved York and have fond memories of it from University and from visiting it frequently when I was growing up. I settled back here just short of a decade ago and wanted to share my love and passion for vintage to the city. I love having a store here and we get students, tourists and locals alike come by – By having such a variety of custom we can stock a variety of styles, eras and types of clothing so it keeps things interesting.

Q. Where do you source your stock from? Have there been any items which have been particularly difficult to source?

A. I source all the stock worldwide, from here in the UK to Europe and the USA – The older stuff is harder to source, and the “on trend” products like branded sweatshirts, because all the stores want them, and all coming through the recycling chain, there’s only so many about – It just depends what’s been hiding at the back of people’s wardrobes and what they’ve parted with.

Q. How big is the Dog & Bone team? Do you have a favourite ‘team memory’?

A. It’s a pretty small team – Currently we have myself, Jess, Emma, Joe, and Sam pops back from time to time. We’ve had loads of happy memories over the years, and some pretty surreal moments. Once someone asked if we were an interior design shop…

Q. How has Dog & Bone had to adapt to the Coronavirus? Have there been any positives which have arisen from it?

A. We’ve made a lot of changes to make the place Covid secure and made sure people have been able to socially distance – I think any challenges make you up your game, and we’ve got some cool things in the pipeline, including expansion to our downstairs to incorporate more ladies wear, re-work and more; that’s this year, we’ve got more planned for 2022, and 2023 will be a big one when we celebrate being on the streets of York for 10 years – There’s some really exciting things planned for then.

Q. And a fun question to finish with… though the ‘dog’ part of Dog & Bone actually refers to your surname, do you have a real dog at home who could be the shop’s hidden mascot?

A. Alright, so I don’t own a dog myself, but my wife has a family dog back at her parents’ house called Ewok – He’s 14 and a pomeranion! Really cute, friendly little fella. We have 2 cats we rescued from the RSPCA called Mickey & Minnie, who just had their 1st birthday! They do sometimes act like dogs, which is cute, so we sometimes affectionately call them “Pupper-cats” – Google it, it’s a thing!