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Retro Fashion – Retro Style Trends

July 26, 2016

In today’s world we tend to buy what we want, when we want. Many people also love shiny new things, which poses a question, why has retro fashion (technically second-hand) become so popular? In recent years the vintage fashion industry has grown considerably and is making a huge mark in the sustainable living sector. Changes in buying habits due to economic climates have sparked a conscious decision to purchase affordable clothing. Individuality is another factor giving preloved clothing its welcome comeback. We love to look and feel good in our clothing and retro fashion gives an alternative to the mass-produced garments available.

The Rise of Preloved Clothing

What makes people buy retro fashion?

There are many reasons why vintage and retro fashion has become so popular. For some, reasoning digs deep into the history and quality of vintage styles. For others it is simply a matter of looking good and matching items to current trends. Whatever the reasons, the fashion industry has seen an increase in what we spend on retro clothes, and retro design is reappearing in mainstream styles and trends each season.

Take a look at the main feelings and reasons towards our love for vintage clothing and why it is proving a popular choice in fashion shopping.

1940s retro fashion boutique

1940s retro fashion boutique

Sustainable vintage clothing

Ethical and sustainable practices during the clothing manufacture process have become a talking point worldwide. We’ve all heard the news about unfair working practices and poor working conditions. As consumers we are beginning to listen with our hearts and not just our wallets. So where does vintage fashion fit in the sustainable living equation? Vintage clothing is considered a form of recycling and reusing clothing. Our throwaway lifestyles are beginning to aid in the salvage of fabrics and items of clothing, and not just from the past few years. There have been clothing surpluses for decades and we are now contributing successfully to its reuse. Many people are starting to consider the effects of the fast fashion industry and the stigma in buying preloved clothing has decreased. It’s now fashionable to recycle clothing.


Upcycling is another form of sustainable living as vintage fabrics are fashioned into modern clothing with a retro twist. There are several forms of upcycling that include creating new fashion items with vintage cuts and fabric. You can design your own clothing lines with vintage patterns or create pieces from several odd samples. The choice in vintage fashion is endless.

Our love of individuality

Attitudes have changed towards wearing preloved or secondhand clothing with a renewed nostalgia of a yesteryear. Vintage fashion opens a window to the past and this has created an allure for much loved iconic decades. The historic and sentimental significance associated with retro clothing gives it a treasured value. This in turn makes a more desirable purchase, providing clothing with a story. Vintage gives you a sense of reconnection with a period and offers a chance to form a unique style.


Vintage and retro fashion has given people the chance to escape the normal trends cycle. The focus is on authenticity and quality, which can sometimes be lacking in modern counterparts. Previous decades saw a lot of British manufactured clothing with an emphasis on good quality fabric and styles that will last. Vintage today can recreate this method of purchasing as good quality vintage items have proved to stand the test of time. Many modern clothing items can rarely last a season unless you are willing to pay more for distinguished design.


The influx of clothing into our lives has created the revival of previous iconic styles. Many people have taken vintage clothing into their wardrobes and perfectly paired items with modern fashion.

Designer inspiration

Trends are ever-changing but there are styles that will always remain a constant. Designers take inspiration from previous decades and create focal points in their collections. Retro style clothing is primarily cut from certain styles and these are recycled time and time again. Well-known fashion designers such as Orla Kiely are famed for taking inspiration from decades such as the 1960s and 70s. Her collections feature striking print and classic shift dress styles. In today’s design industry it’s hard not to spot vintage influence on the catwalk as classic cuts and styles always create fabulous fashion items.

Shopping for retro fashion

Celebrities make a big impact on the success of a trend with some regularly dressing from a different decade. Sienna Miller is famed for her 70s boho chic and Dita Von Teese, her 50s glamour. With an increase in celebrity following, vintage has made a mark on shopping habits. Young and old alike adore vintage wears yet there is still quite a distinction between vintage tastes in different generations. Each decade has a popular following and whether you are inspired to rock the full look or take snippets of retro inspiration, you’ll need to know where to buy your vintage goodies.


There are many avenues to shop for your favourite vintage wears. It is also really important to think about where you are selecting authentic vintage. Some retro fashion pieces are certainly investment items and some background knowledge and research is helpful when deciding on your chosen era. The Internet has also made it even more accessible to purchase authentic vintage clothing.

The future of retro fashion

With current trends seeing the increase on expenditure on preloved clothing, the future looks bright for vintage and retro fashion. The past few years has had a large focus on reviving previous styles and memorable times in history. Here in the UK we love nostalgia and rummaging through rails of unique and authentic clothing. It is fast becoming a much-loved hobby. Vintage fashion is proving to be a lifestyle choice for many people, whether that’s original, reworked or preloved clothing. These new spending choices and conscious decisions to lead sustainable lifestyles are becoming an important fixture for the fashion industry. It’s never been a greater time to buy unique vintage pieces and understand the importance of the industry to ethical and sustainable practices.



Vintage Boutique

Preloved surplus

Upcycling ideas

Dawn O’Porter loves individual retro style and vintage clothing

Vintage inspired dresses – Orla Kiely SS16

Sienna Miller