We thought they were old fashioned, but in the past few years we have seen vintage clothing becoming a big trend in the world of fashion.
By Dominique Nancy – Journalist, author and fashion blogger
Vintage no longer knows the stigma associated with pre-worn clothes. Dresses, coats, blouses and fashion accessories dating from the glorious years, and after the war, are no longer reserved for the nostalgic of better times. Just seeing the number of shops and events focused on vintage emerging everywhere … Vestiaire Collective, “the European leader in second hand luxury fashion” who also sells online authentic vintage clothing, has an international community of 2.5 million members. The British firm Topshop has also seen the potential for commercialization. In 2016, it developed its range of vintage clothing, via its section Finds Topshop. Urban Outfitters did the same in 2008 and launched Urban Renewal. In the case of the two multinationals, each item found is controlled and restored by their team of experts to meet the needs and demand of their customers, mainly Hipsters (young people aged between 20 and 30 years who see fashion otherwise). Baby Boomers are looking to more high-end pieces 100% vintage.
Previously considered a niche, the vintage is now a global industry. Is it just a trend? No, according to Doris Raymond, a vintage fashion guru whose Los Angeles store (The Way We Wore) is frequented by celebrities like Rihanna, Adele, Anne Hathaway and Angelina Jolie. In one episode of the American television series L.A. Frock Stars, she said: “The vintage fashion is becoming more popular given the growing importance that people attribute to recycling and sustainable development.” Given the state of our planet, the vintage appeal is far from disappearing.
In France, more than 15 000 visitors flock each year to the Vintage Fashion Market to find treasures. Pieces made by designers such as Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin and André Courrèges at a time when luxury clothes were made with a desired sewing technique and in small quantity. That is why vintage is associated with quality and rarity. Buying vintage pieces today is synonymous to valuable purchasing and is environmentally responsible. The followers of this style often have the same concerns as those who advocate “Slow-Fashion or consumption of clothing made with great care and made to last. In contrast, the Fast Fashion is focused on buying products with a short shelf life,” says Sonia Paradis, Director of the Fabrique éthique and author of the book Porter le changement (Publish by Fabrique éthique, 2014).
In her view, people understand the issues, but may not be willing to invest more in the clothing even if it is ethical clothing. Vintage or not. “Very few consumers are looking to revolutionize the world, she said. Rather, they want to express their identity, projecting an image, express their membership in a social group, seduce, etc. They finally seek to feel good, both physically and mentally . “
The vintage label
Caroline loves wearing retro clothes of the 50s and 60s “I am hooked since I tried it,” said the 42-year-old. Why? “For the ecological aspect, but also because it allows me to have an original look that distinguishes me. If you buy a dress in a vintage shop, chances are very slim that your co-worker wears the same as you. Nothing is as certain if you dress in the big chain stores. In this case, we must put a lot of creativity in the arrangement of our outfits to be different from others.”
Knowing how to wear vintage is an art. Some people dress in vintage from head to toes. Personally, I opt instead for a mix with contemporary clothes. I do not like to look like a retro postcard. Ditto for the Montreal Elaine Léveillé, owner of the Era Vintage shop. “Clothes are like good wine, they take more character with age, she said. For a more stylish look, it is best to align our vintage pieces with modern clothes. Similarly to when we accompany an aged bottle of wine with fresh food.” Her shop which includes an impressive collection of clothing from the 20s to 80s is a must for chineuses and vintage lovers clothes.
Those who like Vintage, the true one, should know that the new “vintage style” clothes sold in shops are not authentic vintage clothing. Those found in thrift stores are not necessarily either. It is possible to find some in the thrift stores. But you have to be able to recognize them. Better to go in specialty stores or on recognized sites that verify for you the origin and authenticity of the clothes. To have the “vintage” label, clothing must have:
1) at least 20 years of age;
2) testify to the personal style of a fashion designer and be in original condition;
3) without necessarily being a luxury garment, the piece must however be a fashion or specific design style. For example, a high waist pants of the 80s, a cardigan handmade in the 60s or a basket woven wicker such as Jane Birkin, a cult fashion accessory of the 70s.
“That’s the thing about fashion that I love, which is the sociological [aspect]. Vintage clothing is truly a form of social anthropology because it captures a moment in time, and it tells you so much about what was going on in society at the moment the garment was created,” Raymond said in another episode of L.A. Frock Stars.
Whether one is nostalgic, wants to have a reasonable consumption, attracted by the history of clothing or a fashionista, vintage fashion market reaches a wide audience. And even if the followers are not all devotees of voluntary simplicity, many of them have a concern for the environment and interest in the DIY (Do it yourself). This leads some to recycle their clothes … With Style! For example by adding patches to an old pair of jeans or slightly decorating a tired jacket (potentially going to trash can) with badges or pins unearthed at garage sales …
That’s chic and not just for the planet!
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