By Phoebe Holden
The phrase ‘what goes around comes back around’ is truest when it comes to fashion. Have you ever looked at old photos of your parents, grandparents, or complete strangers and thought that what they were wearing was so stylish? While some of their choices were undoubtedly very questionable, occasionally their clothes look like something you’d find in shops today. With the nineties and noughties currently having a huge comeback, I have the biggest gratitude to my mum for holding on to my childhood hair accessories, because all of those colourful butterfly clips and scrunchies are right back on trend.
Take one glance at the high street and you’ll see it’s flooded with vintage inspiration. Seventies flares and platforms, eighties big shoulders, and nineties, nineties everywhere. It’s exciting to be able to easily access all of these different trends, but after a while the modern copies of these looks become repetitive. Originally, these eras were full of colour, patterns, and eccentricity, maybe a bit too much at times, but exploding with individuality. Fashion is meant to be fun and show off your personality, so instead of buying mass-produced, fast fashion copies, why not look into actual vintage pieces that are unique, eco-friendly, and better quality?
The sustainable fashion movement has really taken off in the past few years. Visibility in the supply chain and increased awareness of social, economic, and environmental issues within the fashion industry has made consumers a lot more aware of their choices. Many brands have been pressured to improve their methods and alternative, improved ways to shop and produce clothes have become popular. Purchasing vintage fashion is a great alternative for consumers as it utilises the masses of textiles that might otherwise go to waste, and you truly do get something unique.
The word ‘vintage’ is often associated with expensive. Admittedly, as the popularity of these clothes increase, places often hike the price up, especially in dedicated vintage shops and in capital cities like London. If you have a cheap vintage shop where you live, you should count yourself very lucky. Fast fashion has the huge advantage of being very affordable, and for many it is the easiest way to access current trends. I can preach about how vintage is amazing, one of a kind, and eco-friendly, but it is undeniable that fast fashion is much more accessible. Or so you might think.
Recently a colleague told me how she once knew a woman who was always immaculately dressed, trendy, and had a real strong and unique sense of style. One day the friend told my colleague that her secret was that she bought all of her clothes from charity shops. She saw no one else wearing the same thing because everyone else had gotten rid of it years ago. This woman recognised the repetitiveness of trends and knew how to dress to suit her figure and individual style, so no one was any wiser.
The moral of this story is that affordable clothes can be second-hand, and second-hand clothes can look amazing. Charity shops are one of the best places to buy vintage pieces, as their workers usually aren’t trained in spotting it, so price it affordably. You’ll also find that people hoard stuff in their wardrobe for years, and by the time they’ve gotten around to getting rid of it they just dump all of their hidden gems in the charity shop because it’s easier, just waiting for you to snap it up. Speaking of holding onto old clothes, check your parents wardrobes, because so many of my clothes have been their castoffs.
If you’re an online shopping addict, don’t think you have to give that up either. Charity shops have online shops nowadays, and eBay is many people’s go-to for super cheap vintage pieces. Depop is another option, but sportswear brands and trendier pieces are often very overpriced and true vintage pieces are very under-priced, so it isn’t always the best option.
Preloved kilo sales are also an amazing resource to take advantage of. You might have to pay a small entry fee, but you pay for how much your clothes weigh. It’s a great idea to know your measurements and take a tape measure though, as they don’t always have changing rooms. For items like hoodies and shirts you can generally tell your size, but for bottoms or dresses I’d advise girls to wear a skirt and tighter top so you can try things on without taking anything off.
So, you can see that not only is vintage a fast track to getting the latest trends, it can be just as cheap (if not cheaper) than buying into fast fashion. Blend some retro individuality into your wardrobe alongside your high-street pieces, and pretty soon you’ll be saying “thanks, it’s vintage”.