If you’re a follower of fashion, then you probably remember when Kate Moss arrived at a New York Fashion Week dinner wearing a pale yellow dress by the 1950s French couturier Jean Desses. Many fans went through their local secondhand stores hoping to find something similar to Moss’s vintage shirt. The tread for vintage clothes goes way back to the 1960s. As fashion became more diverse, there was an increase in the trading of old clothes as the number of these types of goods increased. In this article, we’ll review the history of vintage fashion and some of the leading vintage fashion designers you should check out.
What is Vintage?
The definition of vintage is not easy to capture. The term is used vaguely and fluidly in different industries to refer to the nostalgia of past eras. A vintage item is not as old as an antique. It is usually an item 15-20+ years and was manufactured using the processes of those periods. Today, we have clothes that are vintage-inspired but aren’t vintage. Therefore, when purchasing vintage, you should be careful to confirm that you’re stepping into something right out of a factory 15+ years ago rather than a replica.
History of Vintage Fashion – Vintage as an Indicator of Social Status
There’s been a definite link between fashion and old clothing that made it an indication of your social status. At a time, the fabric of a jacket from a period too recent to be classic or fashionable indicated that the person wearing it was from the lower classes. This stigma was one people were painfully aware of, and the lower classes considered the wearing of old clothes as thrifty and patriotic during wartime. This clothing was usually passed down through families and rarely ever purchased. Most consumers of these old clothing were considered to seek to provide an impression of a higher social status. There were popular among the needy and actors; therefore, the wearers were treated as suspiciously as the seller.
Before the mid-1960s, old clothes were not popular in traditional retailing environments. Its traders preferred the pawnbrokers, marker stalls, and auction houses as a venue for selling. Selling old clothes was seen as a criminal activity and an altruistic pastime. There were large warehouses that distributed secondhand clothes, and they had a huge export market. As a treat in old clothing began to stumble, the practice of wearing old clothes grew and became known as vintage. This type of clothes moved from the marketplace to the upper market boutique.
History of Vintage Fashion – Vintage in London
Dresses were already sold as vintage in London from the 1970s. Moreover, shopping guides of the mid-1970s noted many vintage retailers, and some offer in-house tailoring with vintage fabric. Still, vintage fashion isn’t considered a wholly acceptable practice, and they were worn mainly by consumers who wanted to effect a rebellious challenge to the mores of previous generations.
The combination of thrift and economy and a subversive practice worked to make vintage fashion a sign of morality and practice, especially in the 1950s and 1960s.
It was a trend that was used to represent the hippie lifestyle. Many people interpreted wearing old clothes as an indication of the hippie lifestyle throughout the following decades. It was represented in the political stance of the Women’s Environmental Network in the 1990s. However, the work of designers like Vivienne Westwood, Komodo, Helen Storey, and others also represented the hippie lifestyle and its connection to vintage fashion.
Trends in the 21st Century
The 21st-century trend for vintage clothing comes from bohemianism representing individuality and artistic elitism. Several boutique retailers offering vintage fashion have acquired profile and status. Most of these retailers are credited and quoted in fashion magazines while also being a part of celebrities’ lists of favorite stores. Across North America, vintage retailers are also dominating the fashion headlines. With many movies utilizing vintage fashion, it’s clear that a vintage revival is due.
History of Vintage Fashion – Vintage as Nostalgic Clothing
A top criticism of vintage is that it is quite nostalgic, especially in its influence on contemporary design. Along with vintage retailers, many designers have been drawn towards old clothing, especially in reworking found fabrics or garments. Many designers are also exploring dress history to be able to create modernized antiquity for the post-modern consumer.
Designers like John Galliano, Miuccia Prada, Ralph Lauren, Alexander McQueen, and Donna Karan have invested heavily in vintage clothing they use as resource material. However, investing in vintage fashion isn’t nostalgic because the pieces are selected by the contemporary. Most times, it isn’t about the clothing itself but its positioning in a contemporary debate that refreshes the meanings and memories provided by the cloth.
History of Vintage Fashion – Its Placement in Hollywood
Many Hollywood celebrities have turned to vintage mostly because it is beyond fashion. It is suggestive of anti-consumerist philosophy and individual choices. Actresses like Chloe Sevigny, who are allied with independent cinema, have adopted this aesthetic to separate themselves from mainstream fashion.
The actress’s protégé designer, Imitation of Christ, is part of the anti-corporate philosophy not different from Vivienne Westwood’s in the early 1970s. Additionally, Nicole Kidman is one of modern Hollywood’s top vintage wearers. Nicole tends to purchase from retailers who position their wares as antique, timeless, and culturally valuable. This helps her highlight her sense of personal, individual style, which is authentic and timeless as the fashion option she prefers.
Top Vintage Brands
Knowing the history of vintage fashion, you’re probably wondering what the best brands to buy a vintage fashion piece. While many brands offer vintage pieces, we’ve put together the best top 10 picks for you to check out a vintage variety for your wardrobe.
Besides having a vintage name similar to the Greek goddess of victory, Nike is one of the best brands to get vintage products from. As a consistent brand, Nike has several coats, t-shirts, and hoodies in its collection. These items span different eras and styles. In addition, you can get a rarefied Blue Ribbon Sports collector’s piece from the company, which it was known for in its formative days.
Retro sneakers are part of Nike’s product lines, and you can always find old runners, trainers, and basketball sneakers available. Another top vintage product by Nike is the Air Force 1. The black and white pair might seem similar to others, but they’re not. This pair is quite identical to the original 90s pair. Nike recreated some of the original details like the original sneaker shape, the small Swoosh logo, and many more to look like the original.
This British brand is associated with quilted jackets, trench coats, and tartan patterns. Thomas Burberry created it in 1856 as an outdoor clothing company. However, the company is a top British high fashion brand today. If you’re looking to buy vintage, you should explore Burberry, as their tartan and natural hues are always in style.
With sustainability becoming even more popular, Patagonia has become one of the best fashion brands to buy vintage fashion pieces. It’s also easy to shop with the brand. You have to visit the auction-style platform on their site that allows you to buy and sell used Patagonia items. It’s an eco-friendly option because not only are you purchasing items created with sustainability in mind but purchasing them helps to keep it circular.
Many people would love a Louis Vuitton bag in their collection. This is because they signify taste, wealth, and quality. The only problem is that there are many fakes; it can be hard to tell the real ones. Louis Vuitton is one of the most famous brands you can get vintage fashion pieces from. They have a long fashion history, and you can easily treat yourself to one of their classic options. Most fashionistas include the Twist, the Speedy, and the Neverfull.
The double G logo of the Gucci brand is the hallmark of exquisite craftsmanship. The brand has a limited number of Gucci boutiques to increase its exclusivity. Vintage fashion enthusiasts can find rare and classic Gucci bags, scarves, belts, and many more to expand their vintage collections.
This French brand’s charm is timeless, and the brand is associated with wealth, taste, and femininity. However, this makes it one of the most in-demand fashion brands when purchasing vintage. Unfortunately, many fakes exist, especially when you visit sites like eBay that cannot authenticate their goods. So instead, check out reliable vintage stores for Chanel vintage items. You should also opt for the unusual Chanel styles because they’re more likely not to have replicas, and they have a higher resale value.
This is owned by John Galliano, who has been at the helm of most luxurious brands. You’ll know him for his work at Dior, Givenchy, and Margiela, which is why most refer to him as the Kind of fashion. His artistry, talent, and vision are reflected in every piece he creates. His work with Maison Margiela focuses on sustainability, and he uses upcycling techniques to create unique pieces that reflect his cultural responsibility. Galliano is one of the best fashion brands to buy vintage from if you can locate it. His work is the stuff of legend; you can find 40s-inspired jackets, newspaper prints, Dior Saddle bags, and many more.
You need to find out if you don’t know what a laurel wreath is. Fred Perry is a quintessentially British brand that’s popular due to its founder Fred Perry. The laurel logo has been around seen 1952 and reflects fair play, integrity, and decency. You can get pre-loved tees, shorts, and tracksuit bottoms from this brand. There are also more of their products available to purchase from vintage resellers.
The vintage market continues to grow without signs of slowing down. One of the reasons it is so appealing is that it has a finite supply. Therefore collectors usually hunt down pieces because there is great demand and competition. Knowing the history of vintage fashion would help you appreciate it more. Vintage fashion pieces are an investment and one that will increase in value. Therefore, if you see a vintage piece you love, it might be best to buy it today as you might not see it again.