CALL US NOW: 0207-700-2354

Get 20% off all vintage clothing use code: VINTAGE

SHOP NOW

Exploring 3 answers – how did vintage clothing become fashionable again

October 11, 2018

Vintage clothing aficionados: We’ll provide you with 3 answers – how did vintage clothing become fashionable again, and why that fad still continues even today?

 

The term “vintage” is relative. To some, it might mean wearing items of clothing from another era. Others see it as defining a specific fashion era that they hold dear. And if you ask many fashion industry observers, they’ll tell you that vintage fashion design is all about recreating the past – not just remembering it!

 

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at all things vintage, and we’ll explore various aspects of the allure behind antique clothes. To do that, we’ll need 3 answers – how did vintage clothing become fashionable again? What makes “old clothing” so appealing? And why “vintage” can mean so many things to so many people?

The spring book of B. Kuppenheimer & Co.Illustration of menswear from the 1910s

The spring book of B. Kuppenheimer & Co.Illustration of menswear from the 1910s

Exploring “Vintage”

To get to the first of our 3 answers – how did vintage clothing become fashionable again?, we need to understand WHY it was worthy of being called “vintage” in the first place? Exploring the answer to that question will then offer us a better perspective on the other two questions.

 

The reason why so many people flock to thrift stores in search of pre-owned or sparsely-used clothes, is that they wish to live the past. In other words, one way to get to feel how individuals in a bygone era felt about fashion, is to imitate how they dressed. So, what timeline are we looking at in order to really explore what vintage clothing means?

 

By some definitions, you really can’t call it “vintage” unless it is at least two decades old – 20 years or more. And by that definition, since we are in 2018, fashion design from the late 1990s and earlier could be legitimately called vintage fashion.  And that brings us to exploring yet another dimension to understanding our 3 answers for – how did vintage clothing become fashionable again: Is age the only qualification for reviving something and making it fashionable?

Outside of Antique Shop - Old Town - Skopje - Macedonia

Outside of Antique Shop – Old Town – Skopje – Macedonia

Exploring Thrift Stores

When you explore the shelves of neighbourhood thrift stores, you’re likely to find costumes and dresses spanning a spectrum of ages:

 

  • Antique clothes will be really, really old – probably held together by stitches and staples! The value in these items of clothing isn’t in whether you can wear them – it’s more about having a piece of long-lost history survive and make it to the thrift shelves!

 

  • Then, there’s vintage clothing – items that, as we discussed earlier, are in the 20+ year camp, but which the hopeful buyer (or wearer) identifies with. Such items are often the inspiration of contemporary fashion – like line-ups we’ve seen in the Fall of 2017 and even more recently on catwalks across the world

 

  • Finally, we have retro fashion, representing something that most people today might think of as outdated or “style less”, but which still fascinates individuals with taste beyond vintage fashion design!

 

Clearly, when exploring 3 answers for – how did vintage clothing become fashionable again, we’ll need to take into account WHY vintage wardrobes are still so appealing to vintage aficionados.

Here's how did vintage clothing become fashionable again - Purple pleated silk. Designed by Mariano Fortuny, c.1910-c.1940

Purple pleated silk. Designed by Mariano Fortuny, c.1910-c.1940

Why people love vintage clothing?

In our brief discussion on how vintage became popular (more on this later!), we agreed that some people just want to go back in time and re-live some of their great experiences. That doesn’t mean that they actually want to literally turn back the clock – it’s just that items of clothing from a time they cherish bring back memories they treasure. Hence, they love to dress-up to make those memories more life-like!

 

And that’s the primary reason that you’ll see people organizing specific-themed vintage parties, like 70’s Boogie Night or 80’s High School Reunion events. The idea behind organising and hosting these events is so that like-minded people dress up in vintage clothing, and then re-create a part of their lives that they wish to revisit – if even for a single night, or just a few hours!

 

So, as we search for our 3 answers as to – how did vintage clothing become fashionable again, our first answer is: Because there is a popular demand for people to wear items of clothing belonging to a certain era – appropriately called “vintage” – in order to bring back memories from their past. And the easiest way to do that is to emulate clothing design from that age. As a result, vintage clothing became fashionable once again!

how did vintage clothing become fashionable again - Man with Loretta Bezzini & Lars Jacob in clothing by Gul & Blå.San Diego, California, 1971

Man with Loretta Bezzini & Lars Jacob in clothing by Gul & Blå.San Diego, California, 1971

More than meets the eye?

But vintage fashion design revival has much more behind it. Often, a group of individuals or a band of fashion aficionados who love clothes from a specific era, just can’t make them fashionable again by deciding to wear them. There has to be something more that drives it. It needs almost a cult-like following!

 

 

Take for instance the movement that can still be seen today – that of wearing frayed jeans from the 1970s and the 80s. People are flocking thrift stores to get their hands on jeans from 15 or 20 years ago. They wear them at parties, public events and private functions, making sure others see them wearing those items of clothing from the past.

 

 

And there’s the “celebrity effect” to why people love vintage clothing, which forms part of the 3 answers as to – how did vintage clothing become fashionable again. When you see famous personalities, like Lily Collins, Naomi Harris or Fearne Cotton, wearing a piece of clothing from an era you cherish – like skinny jeans from the 1960s, or dresses with cinched wastes from the 70s, you immediately want to emulate them. And while they start the “movement”, it is people that follow who have made vintage clothing become fashionable once again!

Girl with red hair and vintage aerosmith t shirt and blue denim jacket

Girl with red hair and vintage aerosmith t shirt and blue denim jacket

Sparking the vintage clothing “movement”

So, in our search for 3 answers for – how did vintage clothing become fashionable again, we now know that it takes ordinary people, like you and I, to join a “movement” in order to make a particular trend popular. We also saw that famous people, like actors, sports icons and models, were instrumental in starting fashion movements that made vintage clothing become fashionable again.

 

However, that leads us to yet another aspect of how vintage became popular. It takes someone with vision and foresight to fan the flames of any populist movement. A handful of celebrities wearing items of clothing from a vintage era can do a lot to inspire others to follow them and stroke the fans of vintage popularity. But the bigger question is: Who is responsible for lighting the initial spark that turned into a flame of popularity for vintage fashion design?

 

Take for instance the graphic tees that you see everywhere today. Iconic in the early 80s, there is a renewed interest in them that has sent bargain hunters deep into thrift stores all over the UK to find a graphic tee that strikes a chord with them.

 

And while we are on the subject of what (and by extension – WHO?) sparks the love for vintage clothing and makes them fashionable again, do you remember the High socks, Sneakers and loose-fitting dress combos from the 1990s? Well, something (or SOMEONE?) has sparked a flame that’s making that combination outfit popular once again. You’ll see fashion design inspired by that 90s look featured prominently in today’s Teen TV dramas and popular 90’s-era movie remakes.

how did vintage clothing become fashionable again. An example is Yves St. Laurent classic cream trouser suit at deYoung Museum in San Francisco

Yves St. Laurent classic cream trouser suit at deYoung Museum in San Francisco

Digging deeper into how did vintage clothing become fashionable again

When we dig deeper for the 3 answers as to – how did vintage clothing become fashionable again; it helps us understand yet another reason for that popularity: Contemporary fashion designers who have a flair for rejuvenating vintage clothing by transforming them into current “sensations”. However, this aspect of what sparked vintage clothing to become fashionable again is slightly more nuanced!

 

Leading fashion designs of 2017 and 2018 have played a part in reviving fashion design from vintage periods, not by simply reintroducing them “verbatim”, but by weaving certain aspects of vintage into their contemporary line-ups.  They say imitation is the truest sense of flattery – and that’s what it has taken to help vintage clothing become fashionable again!

 

For instance, when Vogue unveiled Saint Laurent’s’ 2018 fashion trends, we saw that ladies cycling shorts were among the items of clothing that are featured there. Popular in aerobic studios in the 80’s, these shorts are making a comeback with a vengeance. However, there is a marked difference here!

 

While the 80s has sparked Saint Laurent’s’ imagination, these shorts won’t be seen at Yoga classes or in gyms today. Instead, there’s a hint that they’ll be seen underneath other fashion pieces – like ball gowns and formal event flowing dresses.

 

So, in looking for the 3 answers as to – how did vintage clothing become fashionable again, we’ve now seen the important role that the fashion design industry is playing in boosting that popularity. And as iconic fashion designers design, and celebrities show off to start a movement, so do individuals like you and I embrace. And that’s yet another factor that sparks the popularity of vintage clothing.

Fashion designer Pierre Balmain fitting haute couture gown on actress Ruth Ford.

Fashion designer Pierre Balmain fitting haute couture gown on actress Ruth Ford.

Making vintage fashion design accessible

We’ve now understood why people love items of clothing from a bygone era, and we also looked at various aspects of what sparks a desire to swarm thrift stores all across town to search for a unique piece of vintage fashion that people identify with. We’ve seen that, in no small measure, leading fashion houses and designers are also instrumental in making vintage clothing fashionable today, by including vintage aspects into their latest line-ups.

 

Having understood those very important aspects of the reason behind the popularity of vintage wardrobes, we now move to discussing how the masses were able to join a “movement” and make it fashionable. And the obvious answer is: Accessibility!

Portrait of Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire, Date, 27 December 1948

Portrait of Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire,
Date, 27 December 1948

Mass appeal

The age of the internet has given free and open access to common people to a lot of things – including clothing inspired by vintage fashion design. All you need to do is head on out to sites like Blue17 vintage, Etsy, Ebay or Amazon, and you’ll likely find an amazing assortment of vintage clothing, all neatly classified for quick searches and browsing.

 

Since creating a “movement”, like the buying and wearing of vintage fashion items, can only happen if followers of the movement are able to easily access the tools required to spread the message – it was vital that vintage-inspired items of clothing be easy to find and select. And there again, online retailers played a part in making vintage become fashionable again!

 

When you go online, you can:

  • Quickly find sites dealing in vintage fashion design

 

  • Locate what you need by browsing the site. Browsing has been made easy – thanks to sorting and filtering capabilities

 

  • You can restrict your vintage selections to a particular era (like 70s vintage or 80s vintage), or to specific items of clothing (like Vintage jeans, vintage skirts or vintage tops)

 

  • Some sites offer features where you can pick and choose various combos and match them head-to-head, enabling you to make a more informed choice about your vintage wardrobe.

How did vintage clothing become fashionable again, Photo of the Jackson 5 from a guest appearance on The Jim Nabors Show in 1970

Photo of the Jackson 5 from a guest appearance on The Jim Nabors Show in 1970

Going viral!

While addressing the 3 answers for – how did vintage clothing become fashionable again, we therefore must accept one fact: Going viral played a role! Without the ability to go online and exercise this type of freedom to choose before buying, it is highly unlikely that vintage clothing would be as fashionable again as it is today. But…there’s more!

 

Online retailing has also been instrumental in popularising vintage fashion, by facilitating delivery of almost any vintage fashion pieces that members of the “vintage movement” require. There’s no need to line up at thrift stores, or to fight over the last vintage denim skirt hanging on a shelf:

 

  • Order it online in minutes, from the comfort of your home!

 

  • Have it shipped out to you – anywhere in the world – in just a few days!

 

  • Try it on using other vintage-inspired items of clothing – just to make sure it all hangs together!

 

And then, if you don’t like what you see, it’s become so easy to return it all back where it came from – for a full refund! You don’t need to head back to the thrift stores where you bought them from. Just put it all into a container – often shipped to you by the online retailers themselves – and drop it at your neighbourhood post office. Now, how cool is that!

 

These aspects of making vintage fashion design more accessible to the masses, my having them go viral, are often ignored when we ask ourselves: How did vintage clothing become fashionable again? Sometimes, the simplest of answers is often the most plausible: Vintage clothing wouldn’t be as fashionable as it is again if it were difficult for ordinary vintage aficionados to buy them. It’s really that simple!

How did vintage clothing become fashionable again, another example of popularization with Roger Vadim and Jane Fonda publicity photo, Rome, 1967

Roger Vadim and Jane Fonda Rome, 1967

Making vintage fashion design accessible

Our quest for 3 answers to – how did vintage clothing become fashionable again, has led us to explore three reasons for the underlying popularity of vintage fashion today.

 

  • Firstly, people like to relive periods in their lives, from 15 or 20 years ago – and wearing items of clothing from that era helps them do just that! So, they turn to vintage designs to help them in their efforts

 

  • A second answer as to why vintage is so fashionable again, has to do with how celebrities and famous fashion design houses create an air of mystique and allure around clothes from decades ago. They do this by including elements of vintage fashion into contemporary designs, thereby making vintage clothing more fashionable today.

 

  • And the last of our 3 answers as to – how did vintage clothing become fashionable again, has to do with making vintage wardrobe pieces more accessible to the masses. Online retailers have made it so easy for vintage lovers to get almost any items of vintage clothing. As a result, because they are so accessible to everyone, vintage clothing is becoming fashionable in a big way!

 

In many ways, thrift stores and online retailers are really the driving forces behind the revival of vintage clothing.  And while movie stars and runway models have served to spread the vintage message far and wide, vintage lovers are the real heroes who hear the message and embrace it to make vintage clothing become fashionable again!

 

 

DISCOVER MORE 20TH CENTURY FASHION FOR FREE

ADDED TO BAG