Vintage clothing is perceived as a bit of an acquired taste, it’s something people seem to either really love, or think they’ll hate. I’m here to tell you that vintage can be for everyone, you just have to look past that idea that it’s musty, smelly old clothes that was once worn by old ladies surrounded by cats. For an item to qualify as vintage it must be over 20 years old, meaning that clothing from the 90’s is now officially classified as vintage. All those Kookai and Morgan de Toi pieces you saved your pocket money to buy are now collectors items and worth a pretty penny.
There are many reasons that the revival of clothes from decades gone by is such a popular choice in fashion right now:
- You’re guaranteed to get something unique. You’ll find something that will make you stand out from the crowd, providing you know where to look to source really great vintage.
- You’re promoting sustainable and revived fashion. By giving a garment new life, re-using, re-working and re-loving something, you’re helping to prevent waste and are part of the cause against fast fashion and sweat shop produced fashion.
- You support a small business. It’s no mean feat trying to source good quality vintage clothing, someone has spent time, money and effort searching for those pieces.
- You’re making a statement. You’re saying that you don’t need mass produced high street clothing in your wardrobe for every day of the week.
- It’s a great way to experiment with fashion from different eras, vintage can be affordable, contrary to popular belief, and you won’t bump into anyone else wearing the same piece
How do you source good vintage clothing?
It’s hard to find good quality vintage clothing these days, and with the 90’s revival maintaining pace, stock is at a premium. Vintage fairs are a great place to start, Britain Does Vintage and Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair have seasonal pop ups all over the country and invite the best retailers from the surrounding areas to sell their stock. The great thing about vintage fairs is that they sell way more than just clothing, you’ll find hats, accessories and tea sets perfect for serving gin, prohibition style, amongst the treasures on offer. If I’m looking for jewellery, trinkets or era specific clothing, I head to Clerkenwell Vintage Fair which runs seasonally at Freemason’s Hall in Holborn, London.
Vintage stores are more tricky, in the North East we have Trendlistr studio (who also sell online via their website) in uber cool Commercial Union House. The fuschia pink studio creeps with ivy on the outside and inside is a wonder emporium like no other. Selling high quality vintage clothing, shoes and accessories sourced from all over the world, owner Louisa tells me that the best vintage clothing comes from France. Whether it’s a particular Hermes scarf, Miu Miu shoes or just a printed shift dress, you’ll find it at Trendlistr. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever visited and not bought something, it has the highest concentration of great quality vintage pieces in one place that I’ve ever come across.
I was actually recently asked to collaborate with Trendlistr and shoot a selection of Summer stock for the website including an awesome Beverly Goldberg-esque jumpsuit that I’m kicking myself for not buying. You’ll be able to see the images pretty soon, but for now here’s a few I took behind the scenes.
For a more youthful vibe It Girls Vintage in the North East offers re-worked pieces and lots of denim in different shapes and cuts. Those Mom jeans you’re buying for £40 in Topshop are great, but you could find some 80’s and 90’s originals at It Girls.
Online; try eBay but approach with caution, it’s filled with sellers who use the term ‘vintage’ very loosely so make sure you read everything, check the pictures and if you’re still not sure, then ask questions! Some sellers will call something vintage, when they mean vintage style or retro which are very, very different.
What should I look for?
Literally anything that catches your eye! The beauty of vintage is that whilst it doesn’t run to a specific trend, you often find that some pieces have come full circle and are fashionable again. I recently scoured the high street for a double breasted checked jacket in the style of one Margot Robbie was snapped wearing, after three weeks of turning up shit quality pieces online and in-store, I found an awesome vintage piece that fit the bill perfectly.
Think outside the box, I have a vintage wedding dress that’s just quirky enough to pass for formal wear and recently I sourced an amazing floor length velvet gown that looks like it was shipped straight from the set of a Florence and the Machine promo. With vintage clothing you can be more daring, you can push the envelope and achieve more than you can with high street pieces alone. For Fashion Month I always try to source new and interesting vintage pieces for my collection so that I can guarantee I won’t bump into someone wearing the same thing. So many times I’ve seen women wearing the same clothes and shoes sat just a few spaces apart on the Frow – talk about a glitch in the matrix.