In conversation with Two-Bit Villains

Recently, I had a chat with Liam Hughes and his mother, Leigh, owners of Adelaide’s iconic soda-bar Two-Bit Villains. The nifty little venue opened in 2011, originally as a clothing store. There was always the plan to add a food element to the business: Liam is a qualified chef, so it seemed fitting! Within six months of opening the store, the pair moved into a slightly bigger space in the Adelaide Arcade, allowing them to put in a kitchen – though it was a very small and simple kitchen –  where they produced some basic food and their legendary homemade soda.

As their food grew in popularity, Liam and Leigh decided to drop the clothing aspect of their business, allowing them to focus on expanding their menu.

In 2015, the Two-Bit Villains team opened in a new space, giving them more room to accommodate their growing demand. Oh boy, this space is really something! It truly is one of the most beautiful spaces in the Adelaide Arcade – high ceilings, character finishes, and a spectacular balcony overlooking Rundle Mall. Liam and Leigh adore it and describe themselves as very lucky to have it.

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What sets Two-Bit Villains apart from the other eateries in Adeiade is their 100% vegetarian and vegan menu. Interestingly, this is not something Two-Bit Villains push as a selling point, but it is a factor that slips under the radar. Liam and Leigh explain that they simply offer up “a restaurant that happens to not serve meat… The whole purpose was always to be a place where someone who is vegetarian or vegan can bring their friends and share a good meal.” These guys can proudly say that they have definitely contributed to the vegan boom in Adelaide, and they are very happy to be a part of it.

Two-Bit Villains are known for their sodas, which Liam proudly claims are his thing – so much his thing that he makes his own with the Two-Bit team.

I’ll let Liam’s words speak for themselves:

“We pretty much always have ten to twelve flavours on hand. Then we do summer specials – pineapple, watermelon and cucumber soda, and cherry over Christmas. It depends on what is seasonably available. The whole point was to make them the way they were originally made, with original fruit – the blueberry made with actual blueberries. There is no colouring!”

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Unpacking the vibe of Two-Bit Villains is a rather interesting task. The space is an eclectic mix of furniture and décor stemming from a 50s-60s home bar aesthetic – in one corner you have a horrendously fabulous floral couch, in another a retro radio, and on the wall a bamboo piece of décor finished off with a few life size cocktail umbrellas. I’m definitely all about their vibe: it sweeps you up in its quirkiness, and as you sit there with pals, the vibe allows you to easily forget about the hustle and bustle of the outside world.

Liam is very involved in the Adelaide music scene, or as he describes it “the ‘alternative indie pub stuff” which inspires Two-Bit’s exceptional playlist. The playlists include a lot of Liam’s friends’ music from all over the country, mixed in with his own music preferences. However, as he puts it, there is really no intentional theme: they are just going with the flow and seeing how it works. I have to say this relaxed approach to business must be linked to the ‘chilled’ experience customers have when visiting Two-Bit Villains. Although there may not have been specific intentions with the décor and the music, Liam and Leigh always hoped to provide a safe space for customers, where people can escape the pressures of outside society. Hats off to them: they have created a little oasis up above the hustle and bustle of the Mall.

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As an eatery, Two-Bit Villains have a massive following, possibly due to their incredibly groovy merch: everything from keep cups to t-shirts, tote bags to reusable straws. These products mean that the Two-Bit Villains name is no longer limited to Adelaide, with friends interstate or overseas wearing shirts and spreading the “Two-Bit” love. There is even a guy in Finland walking around with his Two-Bit cup.

Finally, I found myself wondering about the origins of iconic name of this business. Turns out the phrase ‘two-bit villains’ doesn’t really exist anymore, as ‘two-bit’ is an old word for 25c. Leigh explained that a Two-Bit Villain is someone who is chasing every dollar because they are so broke, or a poor person trying to do something with themselves. Liam and Leigh see it as a cute name that fits with the old time vibe of the place.

The parting message from Liam and Leigh for you Adelaideians is the team is forever grateful for the support they have received from the Adelaide community and that Two-Bit Villains is here to stay.

Check out all the socials for merch, sneak peaks from their menu, links to their in-house Spotify playlist, or just general info.

A massive thank you to Liam, Leigh and the crew at Two-Bit Villains!

 

Twitter: @TwoBit_Villains

Insta: https://www.instagram.com/twobitvillains/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/twobitvillains/

 


Words by Michelle Wakim

Retrojam: Experience Through the Ages

A while ago I was asked to write an article on a costume and retro clothing shop on Grange Road. Being a lover of old music and funky clothes, I immediately said a wholehearted yes and got in touch with the lovely owner of Retrojam, Julie. We organised a date and I hopped in my car, blasting some Doors and Rolling Stones.

Before I even stepped foot inside the shop, the dresses on the mannequins had already excited me for what was to come. Printed 50’s Rockabilly dresses exuded the potential of the clothes waiting inside. When I first entered the shop, Julie was serving a customer. She greeted me with a smile and showed me around quickly whilst the customer was getting dressed in his handpicked party costume. He emerged, looking like something straight out of the 1970’s, mullet wig and all. Julie explained that the patterned pants and the high-necked shirt were vintage 70s. After he changed back to his normal clothes I was shocked to see how much he had transformed. Julie had taken him right through the eras with her clothing knowledge and dressing expertise.

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Julie was everything I expected and more for such a unique shop. She was lively, dynamic, engaging and just someone who you could chat to for hours. She took me through the shop design that she built from scratch, with some help from her builder. Racks and racks of psychedelic prints and shelves of bright, florescent Go-Go boots were just some of the beautiful items available for rent. Sourced from her own private collection, America, and local op shops, most of the clothes available for rent are authentically retro.

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Julie has been in the clothing industry for her whole working life. She has been dressing customers since 1974 showing she has experience through the ages. If you’re stuck for a costume or a groovy outfit, Julie can dress you from head to toe. Her shop is much loved and has provided clothes for a whole range of events, even including a wedding!

Next time you’re stuck for a costume to wear, or something fancy that will stun friends and family, I would highly suggest Retrojam. Whether you shop on the website or in person, the authenticity of the clothing and the crystal clean condition they come in is something that can’t be matched. Put that with the personal service and the wonderfully bubbly Julie, I wouldn’t go anywhere else.

Visit https://retrojam.net.au/ or call (08) 70065874 to see for yourself!

The shop is open from:

Tuesday 10-5:30pm
Wednesday 10-5pm
Thursday 10-5:30pm (or later by appointment)
Friday 10-5pm
Saturday 9:30-4pm


Words by Sarah Ingham.
Photographs from https://retrojam.net.au/.

Spotlight: Fanny Adams Vintage

Walking into Fanny Adams Vintage the first thing I noticed was how entrenched in 80s and 90s pop culture it was, with the walls of the staircase covered in movie posters. Stepping into the kitchen area, murals by different artists covering the walls, my eyes were drawn to the enchanting replication of a large tree – its blue, purple and green hues gave it a mystical element. In the adjoining room racks full of denim, t-shirts and pants sat ready for purchase, all of which had their own original and personal flair, customised to maintain originality. Fanny Adams Vintage is also home to Project Awesome, a collection of colourful, pop-culture influenced, customised denim by local Adelaide artists, with each design being unique and never again to be replicated.

 

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Project Awesome.

 I sat down with Tiphany (owner of Fanny Adams Vintage) in the kitchen area, parallel to the television which played Dirty Dancing, while Blondie’s Atomic played in the background.  

 

When did you initially set up the store and what did you envision it would become?

 

It started off as being online and then a pop-up store at the Fringe which was located just on Pirrie Street. I always wanted it to be a physical location. Online, [it] was just easier to start that way but I always just wanted my own space. The pop-up store went quite well. I was supposed to stay there for a little bit longer, four weeks of the Fringe and then the option to stay on but at the last minute it was offered to a big chain store, so I had to bump out the last day of the Fringe – that was a bit of a panic. This place popped up within the next week which was lucky. It just snowballed into that and so now in this premise because it’s a little bit bigger we can do events and stuff.

 

When Fanny Adams first started it was just vintage clothes as that was my first passion. I personally like vintage clothes because they’re unique, nobody else has got it… I don’t like looking like everyone else with what I wear. I like having things no one else can have. I started seeing all this customised denim on Instagram and it didn’t seem fair that only models get customised denim jackets. I want one as well. And I know I can’t make one but I can definitely get hold of jackets and I know people who can make one. That’s how Project Awesome started. I just found five artists that were willing to come on board and give it a try. And I was working at another vintage store at the time so I stocked the jackets through the store as well as on Etsy just to sort of test the market and to see how well they would actually sell in Adelaide and they did really well so that was the beginning of 2017 and the by mid-year I did a second run of denim jackets and then by the end of the year I was gearing up to do the pop up store at the Fringe so I had twenty artists on board by the end of the year.

 

I just kept going with it. People seem to like it. It’s a popular concept and that grew again because all of the artists involved kept saying how much they would like to connect with other artists and that it can feel quite isolating working as an artist you don’t really get that often a chance to connect to other people and to talk about contacts and processes. So we had a catch up drinks and that went really well.

 

The Project Awesome crew – or the Fanny Pack as I like to call them – they’ve grown into quite a little artist collective. Everything that is stocked in the shop now that’s all ‘Pack’ merchandise.

 

Now we’ve got the events as well. We had a music gig last Saturday, [the 28th of July]. Again, the musician was one of my artists.

 

Have there been any changes to the original vision?

 

Yes, definitely. It just keeps growing. I didn’t set out with the intention of being an artist collection. And I certainly didn’t set out with the intention to do events either. That’s all just sort of formed from the response from the artists. They’ve just been so wonderful to work with I just wanted to help the artists themselves and [offer] different ways of getting them out to a further audience than to what they would do on their own. I have no idea what’s coming next but that’s part of the fun.

 

Where did the name Fanny Adams come from?

 

I wanted a name that was like an old school saying you’d hear your grandparents but wanted a name that wasn’t as typical as a lot of the names around at the time. I liked the fact that it broke down to FA the beloved Aussie slang ‘fuck all’. Fanny Adams was one of the first things that popped into my head and it kind of just stuck. It was catchy and a little bit risqué on some levels.

 

What do you want your customers to feel when they enter the store? What experience do you want them to have?

 

I would love Fanny Adams to be seen as the ultimate safe space for self-expression and creativity. I want them to feel happy and comfortable and inspired which seems to be happening and seems to be the feedback I’m getting from a lot of people which is great. With the clothing in particular I’ve always had the mindset that it’s not male or female. It’s unisex. It all should be unisex. I want anyone that comes in that is on any kind of journey of self-expression or self-discovery to feel free to be able to try anything on. If you put it on and it feels good and it fits then wear it. It’s not ‘oh I can’t because that’s a girl thing’. I want to try and cultivate that kind of mindset, to help be more inclusive.

 

What do you feel sets Fanny Adams out from other stores?

 

I think it’s the combination of the product offering. I try to keep the stock quite specialised to 80s and 90s but Project Awesome really is the standout and that’s really what I want the focus to be on helping Adelaide and the Adelaide artist crew. The jackets are such unique pieces, having a specific collection from a group of so many different people, so many diverse styles, in one direct spot.

 

What project have you been most proud of?

 

The jackets and the fact that the artists have got together so beautifully and that has become a collective has become incredibly rewarding and that definitely has become a driver for me and I’ve realised that what I really want to do is not just have a shop but the real joy comes from working with these amazing, creative, talented people of so many different backgrounds and all of them have been a delight to work with and so willing to participate.

 

If you could tell your customers one thing before they entered the store what would it be?

 

Just to not be shy. Come in and experience all of it. Don’t be afraid to try something different, to find the inner you, to let it come out whether that be through art or clothes or whether that’s through your choice of music. I’m a lover of pop culture because I believe it is a reflection of our time and can be a reflection of yourself and that’s really important to discover and be true to.

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Fanny Adams Vintage.

Could you please explain your involvement with SALA and what do customers and festival attendees have to look forward too?

 

We have a registered SALA event and is called ‘Radelaide on Denim’, which does have a hashtag and does have an Instagram page as well. It is a collection of 15 of my artists involved. There will be a hung exhibition of their artwork. We are launching on 11th of August which is our opening night and on that night, we will also be holding a little mini fashion parade, showcasing all of the jackets and we will have all of the hair and makeup done by Colour Cosmetica.

 

The exhibition will remain hung until the 31st of August. All artworks will be available for sale. The shop will be trading as normal. Kick off at 6 o’clock. Doors open at 6, parade at 7 and we’ll be going through until 10. It’s a free event as well.

 

Are there any future projects we can look forward too?

 

During Feast Festival we are hosting an installation by Danny Jarrett, who’s one of my artists. He will be commandeering this kitchen space into what I believe will be called ‘Queerzone’. We will definitely have a launch night for that and are looking into booking a second event to tie in with the Feast Festival.

 

I’ve wanted to start aiming for an event a month, so we’re probably going to try and do some more music gigs.

 

Can’t wait for Fringe, God knows what we’re going to do.

 
I personally cannot wait to see what Fanny Adams will create next. Not only are the clothes on offer original, fantastic and vintage, it has become a refuge for artists and a place where art can flourish. Adelaide’s local artist scene plays such an important role in a unique local business, making it a business to definitely look out for and support.

 


Words by Georgina Banfield

 

Photos courtesy of Tiphany Wheatley-Dawson