THE ARCHIVE

VINTAGE: FASHION’S MOST UNDERRATED ALTERNATIVE

WORDS BY CHANTAL BROCCA

After almost half a century of unprecedented, wasteful consumerism, the world is finally beginning to slow down and assess the devastating impact that fast fashion has had on the environment, on societal values and our lifestyles. We have begun the slow but fulfilling process of turning a new leaf.

Talk of sustainable fashion has permeated the industry; people are no longer willing to compromise ethics and the environment for a passing fad, and while innovations in eco-friendly textiles and minimal waste processes are underway, the stylistically conscious are turning more and more to vintage as their source of unique, timeless, and environmentally friendly fashion.

“WE HAVE BEGUN THE
SLOW BUT FULFILLING
PROCESS OF
TURNING OVER A NEW LEAF”

A form of nostalgic play, pre-loved fashion has garnered a dedicated following as one of the simplest ways to turn wardrobes eco-friendly. With 57% of discarded clothes globally going to landfills each year, buying vintage is a step towards a more conscious lifestyle without compromising on individuality and personal sense of style.

Before the philosophy of perpetual novelty was introduced in the industry, garments were almost never thrown, but passed down to close relatives or repurposed into new styles through sartorial guide sections found in magazines. It’s part of the reason why so many beautiful garments are still available to us now – an individual’s careful selection of clothing was seen as such an intrinsic part of their identity that so much care went into their preservation, a beautiful connection with one’s objects that has almost been eradicated by the onset of fast fashion and productivity targets. The thoughtless and mass produced, churned out in the hundreds and thousands by a standardised conveyor belt process, is simply unable to replicate the life expressed by a garment lovingly handcrafted to last a lifetime.

“BUYING VINTAGE IS
A STEP TOWARDS A
MORE CONSCIOUS
LIFESTYLE”

This is perhaps why vintage is seeing such a strong revival in our time. A vintage piece is so much more than the different patterns sewn together into a garment – there is an energy that transcends the fabric, an almost indescribable feeling left behind by the individuals who have worn and loved them before. And it is not only the story behind each item that makes vintage so unique – there is a level of quality and attention to detail unparalleled by today’s industry. With speed to market, high volumes and cost cutting as priorities, modern fashion manufacturing has had to make away with anything that really gives a garment its value. There’s a very good reason that clothing produced over 70 years ago is still wearable – luxury garment production was simply the norm.

But the charm of a traditional vintage market goes well beyond logical considerations. The chaos of its aisles is naturally the perfect environment for thoughtfully piecing together a unique sense of style, unbiased by marketing billboards, edited models and modern marketer’s new gimmick of storytelling, all aimed at inducing irrepressible desires for things we neither need nor want. Opting for vintage shopping is a solid means of escaping the fashion industry’s exhausting cyclical trends in a way that is both unique for every individual and timeless – current runways dip constantly into silhouettes and designs of past decades, meaning that a vintage item can never truly be dated.

Buying vintage may only be one facet of the revolution sweeping the industry that is sustainable fashion, but it is one of its most powerful ones, shaping a way of perceiving fashion that transcends its soulless industry, able to contribute to building a sense of self that is connected to others and to history. Funnily enough, we head into the future with a heavy dose of nostalgia, but perhaps it is exactly what we need. New doesn’t necessarily mean better, and nowhere is this truer than in the fashion industry.

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