Christopher Wilson-Tate is designer for Moda Fabrics, owning the Antique Fabric Store in London with 1200+ antique quilts and coming to the Rhinetex Summer House Show 2018 on August 26th.
A couple of weeks ago Irene and Maarten visited him and his Antique Textiles Company and were super inspired by his story, so that’s what we’re going to share with you today. P.s. Scroll down for more pictures.
Christopher Wilson-Tate’s Good Old Days
As a child, his eyes were always drawn to design and colour everywhere: in nature, plants, architecture and arts. He purchased and sold his first quilt at a flea market in Newcastle Upon Tyne (North East England) when he wasn’t even 16 years old. He started purchasing quilts at local antique shops and sold them to local lady antique dealers and made a few pounds profit. Soon Christopher started recognizing quilts in magazines like ‘House and Garden’ that he had sold to antique shops in London. When he was 17 years and 10 months, he came to London with a car load of antique quilts to sell and had appointments with businesses from magazines.
Christopher classes this as the Good Old Days when quilts were at not so many auctions. He advertised all of the North England in newspapers and magazines (there was no internet or mobile phones). Christopher drove about 6000 to 8000 miles a month and opened his first shop in Newcastle Upon Tyne when he was 18. One year later, he bought a large 3 store shop that was an antique shop for 25 years. He putted down a deposit at the bank and got a business mortgage. The things he did at the age of 19.
Next to quilts, he was selling lots of textiles, paisley shawls, linens and antique furniture. Once a week, Christopher left Newcastle Upon Tyne at 3am – to beat rush our – and drove to London and back the same day (600 miles roundtrip). Hard work, but Christopher Wilson-Tate loved it. He learned in 5 years what other antique dealers took about 30 years. But, if you’re enjoying what you do and have a thirst for knowledge and learning, it can come naturally.
Over the years he became more specialized in antique textiles and quilts. He sold over 15.000 quilts over the last 38 years and has a private collection of around 700 quilts of which around 300 from Northern England when he was between the age of 18-25. All these years he kept the quilts due to their unique designs and quality. Christopher has examples of every type of quilt, along with many 18th and early 19th Century stunning examples which will be published in some books that are being planned. When Christoper Wilson-Tate was 34 years old he stopped with his shop and got a job with a property company, ironically, he always thought he’d be an architect as he was always planning his towns and cities as a child. A born designer.
The Love for Textiles…
Christopher loves to see how things were made/produced over the centuries and about the advancements in technology and innovation that came with each generation. He is always in awe to he amazing fabrics and textiles produced in the last 300 years. With so many amazing fabrics and reproductions nothing is really new, it is always generally inspired by designs and elements from the past.
When Christopher Wilson-Tate started 37 years ago he had not really a business model. He thinks he was always thinking ahead and presented the antique quilts in the right way. His laundry skills became very good and quickly, everyone used to love how his quilts were always so clean and fresh.
The present shop, the Antique Textiles Company started 9 years ago and if someone has told Christopher Wilson-Tate 10 years ago that he would have a an antique quilt business again in London he would have laughed, but a year later he did. So many people all over the United Kingdom said it is Christopher who sued to buy all the quilts years ago. It was like he hadn’t seen people for half a year, not 10/12 years.
Technology has made things a lot easier and he has a loyal large group of sellers and collectors who are having him as the first choice for the quilts they purchase or know about. Christopher is renowned for always paying the best prices and this helps the antique quilt market all over the UK, where he helped increasing the businesses for everyone.
Via social media he has built up a very large domestic and international group of followers. Even for an ‘old technophobe’ as he called himselves, facebook has taken him by surprise and has 45.000+ people following. Of course the sales were increasing to all continents but he enjoyed the ‘social’ even more. He met so many lovely people from all over the world and made many amazing friends all because of the love for quilts.
Quilt & Fabrics Sourcing
Antique fabrics and quilts are becoming harder to find, even though auctions, eBay and antique shops are the best ways for finding good ones. In the Antique Textiles Company you’ll find around 1200 quilts, which sounds like a lot, but they’re built up over the last 8/9 years according to Christopher. Good finds are hard to find, but so worth it. A story is coming soon on the Rhinetex blog.
The Joy of the Business
According to Christopher, it is meeting new nice people, property design and company management. Time consuming, hard work, but built up from scratch over the last 12 years.
Next to the Creative-Life?
Christopher loves the city life, but is a country boy at heart. Working on the farms at home when he was a teenager: he helped with the horses and was helping with the dairy cows before school. Since he was a teenager he always worked hard. Christopher loves nature and plants and gardening but also history which he finds fascinating, architecture, art and meeting interesting and kind people, with the emphasis on kind. His love for the English countryside will always be there, but he also has fallen in love with Lake Como in Italy. Most of all, his partner, his mother and family are the most important in his life.
Some last Words
From the heart of Christopher Wilson-Tate: ‘Life can be tough, a struggle for us all, but with the Antique Quilt Store and all other areas in his life he tries to treat the people how he likes to be treated in a kind, respectful and enjoyable way which is usually reciprocated in life. Christopher has come to realize that he has created a very unique place with the Antique Quilt Store and peels perception and hope and he usually has the greatest of fun times at the store with visitors from all over the world.
Want to meet Christopher Wilson-Tate?
He is coming to the Rhinetex Summer 2018 House Show on August 26th!
Christopher Wilson-Tates Collections for Moda Fabrics, available at Rhinetex:
In Stores Now:
Coming in December 2018, available for order now: