Fashion comes in circles. Everybody has raided their parent’s or even grandparent’s wardrobes at some point hoping to find some long forgotten treasure that would cost you a small fortune in Urban Outfitters renewal today. However, with the growth of social media and the boom in blogging over the last decade, vintage fashion has transitioned from a platform for the quirky and individual to frankly what is now considered mainstream fashion, leaving the word ‘vintage’ redefined as more of a description of a modern trend aesthetic rather than a label of age.
It is hard to define the current vintage aesthetic under a single umbrella, however with the accessibility of social media and the boom in fashion blogging there has emerged an aspirational image of a slender ‘insta-girl’ posing in her boyfriend’s Levi’s, a pair of scuffed up Dr Martens and some 60’s frames mixed up with a modern, sporty logo or two. Once-upon-a-time vintage garments were desirable expressions of luxury affordable only to high society fashion collectors with a keen eye for quality. Alongside the evolution of fast fashion comes the disposable thinking of a nation of young expressionists who are keen to buy into the Instagram-perfect branding that they absorb every day. This consumer desire to affiliate with cyber-trends has had a massive impact on the way fashion companies brand their products. An increase in fitness and wellness has led to the desirability of sportswear and sports-luxe, as lead in high-fashion by Yeezy and Alexander Wang. This has created a space for super brands such as Nike and Adidas to push the consumption of their product by altering the wear-ability to be suitable for everyday and fashion purposes.
The development of ‘high-street’ Vintage fashion was organically through the quirks of more alternative bloggers who wished to differentiate themselves from the standard uber-feminine blogging persona. Stimulated by the grunge/punk trends of the 1990s and the bohemian super trend during festival season, these profiles would take moody black and white candid shots in double denim, nose rings and oversized collegiate sportswear ready to reel in the appreciation on social media. Encouraged by the vastly approving receipt of their creativity, high street brands began to alter their image and product based on the desire for streetwear. Stores such as Urban Outfitters created ‘revintention’ lines which essentially sold on worthless, old denim at thrice the price it could fetch elsewhere. ‘Vintage’ no longer creates an image of a quaint, 50’s silhouette or glamourous, old-hollywood furs but instead inspires a generation of internet-obsessed young people to absorb branding and imagery within a manufactured aesthetic.
Bristol is a prime location for the growth of ‘nu-vintage’ fashion. A city with two universities, a thriving music and arts scene and a growing population of innovative creative, Bristol is a breeding ground for copy-cat nu-grunge. An example of this came in the form of a touring Vintage ‘kilo sale’ (where one would pay for garments based on their weight rather than a specific price tag) that made a stop in Bristol today. One could argue that this pricing system cheapens the experience of vintage fashion and allows accessibility for just about anyone. However, this particular sale was a prime example of the re-defining nature of the word ‘vintage’ and what it can now be applied to, as most of the rails held hanger-upon-hanger of jumble-sale worthy tat and moth-eaten, old denim being hungrily snapped up by the student population of Bristol. One could argue that such a sale takes advantage of the persuasive power of social media and branding in that flogging charity shop rubbish to teenagers in a bid to make money on worthless product. An argument in favour of this standard of garment being presented with the word ‘vintage’ is for the rising thoughtfulness of the youth generation in terms of fast fashion and recycling. By branding what is essentially a jumble sale as ‘vintage’ allows a space for young people to be more mindful of their consumption and slow down the process of fast, disposable fashion.
A final thought along this train of thought is the growing accessibility of designer labels within a mass, youth population who would essentially not be the main target market of the brand. Label hunting is a rapidly growing market within modern day social media. With platforms like eBay, Etsy and Depop allowing fashion-hungry young people to buy into designer labels and logos for a quarter of the price they would reach in retail. Designers such as SUPREME are seeing their products being sold on at such a rate on the popular trading app Depop that the company is concerned for the cheapening of the brand image. ‘Vintage’ sales, such as the touring Kilo sale afore mentioned, allow young people to buy old branded garments from Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger at a much cheaper price point, therefore increasing the accessibility of designer fashion and designer logos to the general public.
To conclude, fast fashion is beginning to undergo a subtle change as growth rates and desirability of ‘vintage’ fashion increases. As people begin to understand consumption rates and take steps to recycle old garments, the fashion industry is moving towards an aesthetic appreciating a mixture of the new and the old through popular ‘reinvention’ lines. Vintage will continue to redefine itself and will also continue to absorb the boom in social media and blogging, in a bid to capture the essence of the nu-creative.