Why buy Vintage?
I think I’ve been interested in Vintage since around 2005 when I was at the University of Westminster studying for a degree in Fashion Design. During my 2nd year (out of three), I went on a work placement at Wallis. I found out about this through an email my course leader had forwarded. I remembered that NOBODY wanted to do it and turned their noses up at it. Wallis was 'not cool' at all. However, to me, it was simply experience that would help me stand out when I started to apply for jobs upon graduating.
While I was there, I noticed that they referenced a lot of vintage clothing as their source of inspiration, particularly for their embellishments and occasionwear. They would go to Portobello market and Alfies (to name a few) every week! There was also a girl in my class who looked like she came from the 1940s. Every time I saw her, she was a walking talking 1940s woman. She even drew a line up the back of her calves to mimic stockings. (This is what they did at the time when hosiery became a rarity due to all nylon manufacturing being used to produce parachutes, netting and rope for World War II)
This planted the seed that would send me on my long-term journey of my love for vintage, but, ‘Why buy Vintage?’ right?
This was a question that was always thrown my way whenever I spoke about it, especially towards the start of my journey as ‘vintage clothing’ very much had that ‘used clothes’ stigma and people just did not ‘get’ in... and as the years go by, I keep adding on more and more positive reasons.
Vintage clothing requires no additional resource to make it available. It is not being produced as it already exists. Simple. You are also supporting circular fashion as buying vintage means that less clothing is ending up in landfill and there is a decrease in textile demand. This diagram from Fashion Revolution explains this so well!
A lot of vintage clothing was handmade therefore much better quality and usually much better fit. Sometimes I just can’t believe how a dress from the 1940s still looks immaculate compared to something that I now only wear around the house that I bought maybe 5 years ago.
People choose the way they dress to express their mood and personality so clothing SHOULD be unique to each individual which can be achieved through buying Vintage, the likelihood of someone else owning the same vintage piece as you is slim.
Vintage is particularly exciting right now because people are styling vintage with modern clothing, which becomes something entirely fresh. When I was studying Fashion Design, during my Fashion History classes, I quickly learned that each decade had a very defined silhouette. You have the ‘S-Shaped’ silhouette during the Edwardian Era, the fun and free flappers in the 20s, wasp-waisted in the 50s, short and structured 60s... but to me, that silhouette now begins to blur after 2000 which as a student studying Fashion History now, I imagine would be incredibly interesting!! I also came across these gorgeous illustrations by Eko Bintang which is the most refreshing I have seen in regards to fashion across the decades. It is also evident here that he struggled with identifying what exactly 2000 looks like so he went for Alexander McQueen's 2010 'Plato's Atlantis' collection which was;
'inspired by the idea of a time when humanity, having wreaked havoc on earth, returns to the oceans.'
I always wonder what the story is behind a piece of vintage clothing. What her name was, what did she do, what were her hobbies. I once came across a vintage petticoat that still had the dry cleaning label in it for ‘Diedra Holmes’, it was the sweetest thing ever. I even looked up the dry cleaning shop and if correct, is located in Peachtree City, Georgia, USA.
The attention to design and detail in vintage items is incredible, it is basically luxury construction without the cost. Pleats, tucks and darts, all positioned in areas to simultaneously flatter and enhance the body. Fearless fabric usage such as this incredible John Charles dress that I sold in April. Nowadays, commercial clothing is so fixated on profit and speed that details are lost and removed usually after the Design stage. Yes, AFTER (depending which market). There were SO many times where I would design something and everyone would love the item. However, to reach certain profit margins, we would need to lose some of the length, gorgeous buttons were replaced with a zip fastening instead, or soft, natural fibre mixed fabric was replaced with a cheap static polyester instead. It broke my heart and it took 12 years of this (plus some other things!) for me to decide to leave the industry to work on my own business.
As mentioned at the start, where I did a work placement and they would reference a lot of vintage items, well, this is with the ENTIRE Fashion industry. From fast-fashion all the way to luxury. I remember I once sold a vintage 70s pleated slip dress to someone from Gucci. So, why not just get the real thing?!
Items like denim jackets, a 70s maxi dress, leather jackets, sweatshirts and trenchcoats - haven’t you noticed them being ‘on-trend’ for like, forever?! All of these items you can easily find vintage versions of and keep them forever rather than rushing around trying to buy them each year. Then there is also the straight-leg jean which made its way on the mass-market possibly around 5 years ago, but they were popularised in the late 70s during the punk scene! Jeans are probably the easiest vintage items to find as they are available in so many sizes, shapes and washes!
- Accessible and affordable
This is one of the things I love most about vintage. You can find it anywhere and it is so affordable. Charity shops, vintage shops are everywhere these days, your grandparents’ attic, eBay, depop, millions of online shops, kilo sales...the list goes on and on. Not only that, but it is SO exciting not knowing what you will be coming across.
I hope you enjoyed reading my reasons on why you should buy vintage (although never buying anything again would be the most sustainable option!!)...do leave your comments below or sign up to my newsletter!