Fashion is a fast-paced, constantly changing industry, with styles coming ‘in’ and ‘out’ of fashion on a seasonal basis. The industry looks to the future a season ahead and magazines are full of ‘what next’, but the want for the past and the nostalgia for what came before is growing ever more popular in the present day. Vintage is a huge phenomenon, with influences and ideas being taken from the past, as well as the surge in vintage shops.
A few weeks ago, myself and my three best friends went to a vintage shop in East London. It was the first time I had ever been to such a place, but it really was like stepping back into the past as soon as we walked through the door. Even the decor was reminiscent of the days gone by. It felt like we had been transported back into a time where platform shoes and flared jeans were the height of fashion. From the swinging fashions of the 1960’s to the shoulder pads and double denim shockers of the 80’s and 90’s, there was something for everyone, and every decade of the 20th century. Yes, these were not pieces simply inspired by the past, but actual clothes transported through time and space to be sold in an East London shop to 21st century costumers. Some fashions probably shouldn’t have made the journey into the present, but I am sure there are people who would love to own a pair of flared jeans. Each to their own.
It is no surprise that vintage clothes are so popular in the present day, because there is always something unique to be found. High street shops sell ‘vintage inspired pieces’ but of course unless it is couture then chances are a lot of people will buy the same thing. I can understand that for many people, shopping in a vintage shop offers them the chance to find something unique and quirky. As well as making a great conversation piece.
“Oh I love your top, where can I get one?”
“It’s 70’s vintage. You won’t find anything like this in Top Shop.”
In this respect vintage allows people to perhaps choose things that will make them stand out. With clothes from every decade of the 20th century, the shop offered the choice of 60’s hippy or 80’s punk for example, to people who may like to wear clothes that can’t be found on the high street.
I can’t lie though, at first I did find it all a bit weird but also very interesting. I found myself looking at clothes and wondering what the story behind them was? What sort of life they had before? Who wore them and what their story was? Fashion has the power to create stories and tell us a lot about history. Just like books and writing, we can learn a lot about the past from ‘old clothes’. Every dress, every jacket, every shoe, every handbag has a story. Maybe that is another reason why people love shopping for vintage pieces, because they can connect with the past.
I didn’t buy anything on the day, and I still think that I would prefer to shop in high-street shops, but I love vintage and the power that it has to remind us of the past. Classic, iconic and timeless pieces will never die out, just like stories and historical moments will never be forgotten.
On the bus home, we all got talking about the future. It’s a time where we wonder what the future will bring us. However, the conversation became hilarious, when we discussed which present day fashions could end up in vintage shops in years to come. I shudder to think that one day fashionistas could walk into a vintage shop and pick up a pair of ‘vintage Ugg boots’ or think “wow leggings, I saw a picture of my grandmother wearing those, I have to buy a pair.” Sadly, this could happen, but let’s just hope some current fashions stay in the now, so that when future generations walk into one of these shops, they will wish that they were around in the year 2013!