Why Vintage is the new 'new'
Stuart Bradley Oxfam Fashion blogger
23rd Jul 2012
I recently tweeted that the most stylish kids of our generation are dressing like their parents used to. A lot of people actually agreed with me, which sparked off an internal debate about whether or not vintage shopping is becoming 'easier'.
A large part of my argument hinges around the fact that a ton of brands my parents used to like are once again becoming hugely popular with bloggers and other fashion conscious young people - my dad wore Doc Martens as a kid, and has worn Gant and Ralph Lauren (both two of my 'go to' brands) shirts for years. My mum spent most of the '90s in Liberty print and maxi-dresses, both now making a huge comeback. So, in theory, all kids have to do to look great these days is raid their parents' wardrobes…right?
Not quite. Consider the difference between the following two statements - 'You look so '80s!' and 'Your clothes look like they're thirty years old.' It's pretty obvious which one sounds more favourable. When I wear one of my dad's favourite shirts I invariably look like…well, someone wearing their dad's old shirt. However, on finding similar shirts in charity shops and the like, it quickly becomes apparent that items have often been donated because the wearer found it at the back of their wardrobe and realised they never wear it.
It used to be that shopping for vintage clothes was incredibly difficult, because finding clothes in good condition was tough to do. Brands like Levi's, Gant and Abercrombie have totally changed this. By selling clothes that have already been weathered to look vintage, including everything from pre-ripped locker loops and nicked fabric to sand washed and torn denim, secondhand shopping has the chance to truly hit the bigs again.
I was recently checking out some advertising from the 1950s and was struck by how much it reminded me of the Mad Menlook, which demonstrated another reason that vintage is so massive right now - as well as people wanting their clothes to have character and 'stories' to them (whether those stories actually belong to the garment's owner or not is another story…), current trends are very much based around picking and choosing stylistic devices from the last hundred years and mixing them together in a very postmodern way. And it goes without saying that a shirt
made in the '50s will always look better than a shirt that's been made to look like it was made in the '50s.
So why are some brands already repro'ing stuff that looks just like what my parents used to wear? Well, there are two reasons. Firstly, they're putting an incredibly subtle (one far too subtle to explain here…) spin on things that make them similar enough to invoke nostalgia but different enough to make it look fresh and not like 'one of Pops' shirts'. Secondly, there are still men (and women, too) who are resilient to the idea of putting together a collection of vintage pieces because…well, to be frank, vintage shopping can take a lot of work. But if you
have a little time, there's not much you'll find in stores that you won't find in a charity shop.