Fashion: Looking for the Future in its Past







Fashion runways, stores, and webpages this season are filled with vintage. Upcycling, sustainability, repurposing, reissuing, and referencing are the current “it” words in fashion. Many celebrities are wearing vintage, designers are using vintage fabrics and repurposing vintage garments instead of adding to the carbon footprint, and fashion houses are reissuing their archival pieces. Vintage is having a resurgence and the fashion Industry seems to be looking for its future in its past.


The author wearing 1960s Oscar de la Renta.

Recently, the Kardashians and even the royals have been seen wearing vintage. Last Paris fashion week, Kim Kardashian, a woman who could certainly choose to wear anything, was seen wearing a 1990s Thierry Mugler gown to an award ceremony. Her sister Kendall Jenner also enjoys wearing vintage and created quite a rush in the vintage market for past Jean Paul Gaultier pieces when she was seen at New York Fashion Week wearing a 1990s mesh Gaultier top printed with an image of the Venus de Milo. Jenner has also been known to wear vintage Versace and what she terms “random vintage” (vintage pieces without labels).


Kim Kardashian West wearing a vintage Versace skirt, as seen on Instagram.


Meghan Markle wearing Courreges Haute Couture out and about in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)

Last spring, Meghan Markle wore a 1950s Christian Dior coat in chocolate brown silk to a christening in London. To her own baby shower in New York, she wore a Courrèges haute couture black trapeze coat from 1965.

But’s not just celebrities who are wearing vintage clothing—fashionable women everywhere are craving iconic vintage pieces. Wearing vintage has become a status symbol. There is a real sense of wanting to stand out by wearing something unique that not everyone has access to. This has caused the prices of vintage pieces to skyrocket. Luxury retailers have noticed this trend and want to get in on the action. Just this fall, the new Neiman Marcus at Hudson Yards in New York City started selling vintage clothing curated by Los Angeles-based Resurrection Vintage.

Vintage is also gaining in popularity as consumers become more aware of the impact that fashion has on the environment. People are looking for more sustainable ways to shop. More and more fashion brands are making it easier to consume responsibly by creating clothing that minimizes waste. One way of doing this is by using vintage fabrics or repurposing existing garments. High-end New York based line Bode makes clothing out of antique fabrics, Victorian quilts, vintage grain sacks, and bed linens. They source their fabrics at auctions, on eBay, and through antique markets. In the past there have been small sustainable labels that have used vintage fabrics, but as this idea has gained acceptance, luxury brands are likewise embracing the idea. In fact, several of Bode’s pieces can be seen in this September’s issue of Vogue.


Bode patchwork coat in Vogue’s September issue.

The resurgence in the interest of vintage and looking to the past for inspiration is also influencing how designers are creating new pieces. Many luxury brands are looking to their archives for inspiration and reissuing previous designs. This season, Gucci has brought back its Sylvie bag, originally created in 1969.


Gucci Sylvie bag, reintroduced for 2019.


Pieces from the Marc Jacobs Redux Grunge collection.

Paco Rabanne has reissued and retooled some its heritage pieces for its Spring/Summer 2020 line. Yves Saint Laurent designer Anthony Vaccarello created a Spring/Summer runway show centered on icon pieces that Saint Laurent designed in the 20th century: iconic items such as Le Smoking tuxedo from 1966 and styles from its 1970s hippie deluxe collection. Last season Marc Jacobs reproduced his 1992 grunge collection, while Versace reissued its iconic pieces designed 20 years ago by Versace himself. Currently, Prada is reissuing a selection of its iconic nylon bags from the ’90s, but this time around they are using nylon reclaimed from ocean plastics, fishing nets, and textile-fiber waste.

Even luxury jewelry houses are looking to their archives for new inspiration: Van Cleef & Arpels is reintroducing its Ludo Hexagone bracelet originally designed in 1935, Bulgari is reissuing and reimagining its 1960s Serpenti Forever Bag, and Rolex is reissuing its Day-Date 36 watch, which debuted in 1956.


Van Cleef and Arpels’ Ludo Hexagone Bracelet reissued for 2019 alongside the original in Vogue.


The 2019 Ludo Hexagone.

It seems that everything old (or, at least, vintage) is new again! Vintage fashion is being embraced not only for its exclusivity but also for its sustainability—and for its inspirational qualities. If you are aren’t already wearing vintage, would you? If you’d like to, start small with a piece of jewelry or a scarf and see where you go from there!