Retro fashions have seen a strong resurgence in the past couple decades, beginning with the grunge style in the early nineties. Working class rock bands out of cities like Seattle helped launch thrift-store throwback items into the national spotlight. The fashion began as a direct result of economic hardships and nonchalant attitudes in the pop culture movement.
By the late 1990s, thrift-store fashions had gained an eclectic but popular representation in the generation X demographic. Over the past decade, many of these low-budget style choices became the target for high-fashion designers as vintage moved off Main St and onto Fifth avenue.
Vintage Fashion Becomes Mainstream
Many mainstream designers went retro at the turn of the century, bringing back classic looks like pleated corduroy pants from the seventies. Even the bell-bottomed denim look made popular during the hippie era made its way into mainstream department stores.
Today, vintage clothing is associated with unique, classic looks that have stood the test of time. A growing number of national chains specialize in recycled clothing. These stores operate like thrift stores but are highly selective. Instead of following the thrift model of reselling donated clothing, vintage and recycled clothing stores pay substantial fees for unique articles that capture an exotic or nostalgic piece of fashion history.
One iconic designer who demonstrates the value of vintage is Yves Saint Laurent. The designer made straw hats that fetched over $5,000 a piece at Christie’s auction house. A sixties Mondrian mini dress by Laurent sells for well over $10,000.
Why Vintage Styles Will Always Be Around
Outside of high fashion, the thrift store style retains the strong popularity it found in the 1990s. There are a few reasons this fashion trend might never fade away:
- Recycled clothing is environmentally friendly or “green” which is chic in itself.
- The experience of hunting for rare and valuable items on discount racks has a treasure-hunt feeling that remains exciting.
- The bottom line is always an issue too. Vintage clothing is often more affordable than big-box store attire.
- There is a “scene” for thrift store hunting and vintage connoisseurs. There is a whole movement of social networking, online groups, blogs and other collectives that are dedicated to the vintage fashion culture.
What’s New About Vintage?
One of the predominant changes in the vintage fashion scene over the past decade is the integration of old and new. Many vintage styles are used to exaggerate modern pieces. For example, big sunglasses and classic wind-breaker jackets popping up in modern hip hop music videos and performances.
Today’s vintage clothing includes anything that is two or more decades old. The genre goes all the way back to the 1920s, before which clothing is considered antique. With nearly a century of designs to select from the possibilities are endless.