What is more luxurious, more desirable, than luxury?
A precious, meaningful moment in time. The zeitgeist captured as one’s own treasure. Lasting beauty (whatever that means to you, personally).
In these times of fast fashion and even faster living, how does one go about catching such age-old, yet increasingly ephemeral, pearls?
It is looking as though buying vintage may actually be the way forward.
Not only as a practice of self-adornment (we all know that scoring the perfect vintage ‘find’ can do wonders for one’s sartorial self-esteem, not to mention the careful curation of an elevated, highly personalized wardrobe), but also as a proactive, personal power play when it comes to navigating guilt-free and sustainable shopping now.
Living in a rapidly developing world, which is at once both fast-moving and nostalgia-driven, it is incredibly jarring to ponder how our biosphere’s most artificially beautifying industries – all those, which fall under the wider textiles umbrella, arguably – are together only second after oil in terms of pollution. On the planet. The United States, alone, is responsible for the creation of 15 million tons of used textile waste per year.
What a bloated mess.
As lovers of style, we are far more accustomed to Louis Vuitton than landfill. Indeed, the global luxury industry spent over $1 billion on digital advertisements in 2016, partly in order to keep it that way. Why, then, according to thredUP’s most recent annual report, do 26% of luxury shoppers surveyed admit to purchasing secondhand?
Financial discretion aside, a peaceful mind – that hotly pursued intangible of intangibles for today’s sustainability-strivers – amid a chaotic world is near-guaranteed by buying vintage. All of us, as perfectionists – and whether following a vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, or omnivore lifestyle – can breathe a sigh of fashion relief when lusting after and purchasing pre-owned goods. No ecological harm done. No nasty environmental practices encouraged. Pure style.
Besides, who does not have a one-that-got-away (or, in my case, one-that-I-should-have-never-sold-on-eBay – I will find you again, Prada Resort 2011 crop top!) piece that they would just love to track down? Or, let’s be honest, an item that they could never have afforded to buy brand new at the time, but can now happily buy vintage or secondhand?
The best pieces are, almost always, still an investment (aren’t all good things?). But, vintage also offers the abovementioned much-sought-after element of exclusivity that the average retailer just cannot match with its wares – no matter the speed or quantity of production.
In 2018, searches for sustainable fashion rose by 66% – a very good thing, of course, given the current climate. What could be more ethical and mindful than building a predominantly vintage wardrobe? Whatever your style, vintage offers plethoric, inherently sustainable opportunity for the ever-essential, non-verbal crafting of identity, as communicated through clothing and accessories. (It also pretty much ensures that nobody else will ever be pictured in your look on Instagram.)
High-quality vintage is the height of rare, conscious luxury. The very durability and timelessness of such pieces means you will be able to pass them on to future generations too – definitely not the case with today’s here today, gone tomorrow flimsy and fickle fast fashion.
Vintage is also incredibly chic.
With Y2K style back, hotter than ever, and showing no signs of cooling, the hunt for those now-iconic gems of ‘90s and early 2000s glamour is well and truly on. And, where better to start than with your accessories? Early aughts mega-influencer Paris Hilton was all about accessorizing – and bedazzling – after all.
Paired with 2019’s more pared-back, individualized aesthetic, there is nothing more stylish and of-the-moment than an authentic, vintage piece of Dior, Prada, Fendi, Chanel, Gucci, Céline, or Louis Vuitton slung over your shoulder or dangling from the crook of your arm. Take your pick (I am a Dior girl, myself). As long as your chosen treasure is emblazoned with the logo of one of the major brands, you are good to go.
Fashion houses have taken note. Prada (Linea Rossa), Dior (John Galliano’s Saddle), and Fendi (Silvia Venturini Fendi’s Baguette), in particular, have all reimagined their hits of the not-so-distant past to meet the nostalgic needs of the Instagram generation.
For the true fashionista, though, nothing beats that knowing nod to the ‘IT girls’ of (sort of) yore that a real piece of fashion history provides. Pleasingly, it just so happens to be waste-free, eco-friendly, and sustainable too.