Vintage shops are special, with subdued lighting and indie rock playing in the background. People here are digging for treasure and sometimes, it pays them back. Hundreds of old-style dresses, jackets, hats, shirts, boots, skirts and jewellery are hanging on racks, in cupboards and on the walls, patiently waiting for someone to pick them out and take home. Clothes that look like that had been taken from Grandma’s closet, proving that she had had a pretty wild youth indeed.
Pieces of History
An interest in vintage clothing came about in the ‘50s, and was popular among all the social groups except for the aristocracy, which could afford to refresh their wardrobes frequently. Later, with the beginning of large-scale production worldwide, more and more people managed to regularly buy new clothes.
However, vintage is not all about social class and money. Youth movements in the USA such as hippies breathed new life into old clothes, and wearing old cast-offs became a sort of rebellion against society. And just like that, vintage style gained popularity. In the late ‘70s, the term ‘vintage’ made its way into Vogue magazine, therefore confirming its place in the world of fashion. In the beginning of the ‘90s, it had become part of mass culture.
The Power of Nostalgia
Nowadays, fashion is fast and accessible like never before. So, why do people prefer to buy old clothes rather than new? Globalisation is what we should blame for the phenomenon. Clothes production has moved to Asia, as evidenced by the ubiquitous ‘Made in China’ on every label, so mass market has lost its prestige and trust of the buyers, while every vintage find is unique, laden with history and has a story behind it.
Some vintage pieces have stood the test of time and will never grow old. They are still a source of inspiration for designers worldwide. Every new season, the fashion industry brings us trends which are inspired by previous decades. So who needs to buy the expensive new limitations when you can actually find an original one-of-a-kind vintage item from that era?
Image: Tokyo fashion week, Spring 2016
Besides, the fast fashion machine produces large amounts of identical mainstream clothing. We buy new clothes, style ourselves in the same way, then throw it out. Going for vintage rather than mass-market can be a fun alternative, turning you into an ethical buyer who is able to look for clothes beyond the local shopping centre.
Produced in times gone by, vintage as opposed to mass production is usually handmade using natural materials such as cotton and silk. These clothes are well made with a lot more attention to detail, which is why there’s a certain amount of magic coming from vintage goods.
Classic retro silhouettes are often feminine, naïve and almost theatrical. Occasionally, they bring about memories of our grandmothers in the old black and white pictures. Vintage clothing wakes us up in a century of the past, reminding of how much we have lost.