By Claire Watson
Just because it’s a new term, doesn’t mean our clothes have to be too. Why not step out onto the quad in a refreshed, vintage fit. With the Fashion Society’s recent thrifting event, it’s clear that the students of UCC love vintage. A love for vintage has swarmed popular media, and there’s no doubt that the hit period drama Bridgerton and trends like “cottage-core” and “royal-core” have influenced our wardrobes, with corsets making a belated comeback. Whether we’re rocking mullets and flairs, gogo boots and twiggy earrings, waistcoats and flashy prints, the consumer has never been fonder of the past.
But what is vintage? The term vintage is not always accurate, so buckle up Depop, resellers. Cambridge describes vintage as “clothing, jewellery, etc. that is not new, especially when it is a good example of a style from the past.” More accurately, vintage is at least 20 years old. So yes, Depop, Y2K is vintage. However, vintage ‘looking’ clothes are not. Rather, these are retro. Then there’s antique, any item that was “made in an earlier period and considered to have value because of being beautiful, rare, old, or of high quality.” -anything over 100 years old.
The rise in popularity of vintage, retro and antique fashion is no doubt attributed to the change in consumer attitudes. Thrifting is one of the best ways to act against fast fashion, and mass-produced labels. While there is nothing wrong with wanting to stay on trend, the industry is manufacturing new trends at such a fast rate that consumers can’t afford to keep up, thus we all feel as though we’re behind the times. So, why not get even further behind the times? Vintage fashion challenges this hierarchy.
The power of online connections has allowed subcultures of fashion to thrive, with many artisans and collectors now engaging with a global audience. There is a whole online community behind vintage fashion, with many influencers sharing their antique wardrobes and retro lifestyles.
Karolina Zebrowska is a YouTuber that specialises in vintage apparel. While most of her content is her creating memes in antique apparel, she also offers advice to those new to the community. For example, she warns new wearers to be ready to do some sewing. It is hard to find a second-hand item in perfect condition, but most issues can be fixed with some needle and thread. Still, it is good to gauge your sewing skills before buying.
Many vintage wearers go a step beyond fashion and frame their lifestyles around a certain aesthetic or era. Jasmine Chiswell, a famous TikTokker, is not only known for her recreation of the Monroe look, but for her mannerisms and interior design choices. She’s been on a mission to style her home in authentic 50s furniture, sharing her hunt for the vintage couch of her dreams with thousands.
Zack Pinsent is a wearer and tailor of antique (or retro), period clothing and uses his platform to discuss social issues such as LGBTQ+ rights, mental health, and climate change. His company website, PinsentTailoring, details their efforts to protect the environment by using recycled material and locally sourced fabrics where they can. Collecting second-hand clothes can often be like looking for a needle in a haystack, or, like looking for the dress of your dreams in a stack of faded dad shirts.
Charity shops and Depop are the most accessible spots, but it can be hard to find authentic vintage in good condition. Depop has recently come under fire for its part in the “gentrification of charity shops.” Still, there are many top-notch, independent sellers such as ApparationVintage, CatchinCacti, and Wild & Romy to be found on the app.
Flea Markets guarantee vintage and antique items, though not all have clothes sellers, they are the best spots for authenticity.
Mother Jones’ Flea Market is a great spot for collectors, though most stalls aren’t clothing orientated, stock changes regularly and there is always a small but zany collection of bright clothes waiting to be rehomed. While not all are necessarily vintage, it’s a great place for one of a kind items. Kilogarm sets up regular pop up events across the country, often setting up in Clayton here in Cork City. There, clothes are priced by weight and so the prices attached to brands are thrown out the window.
Across the country shops that specialise in vintage apparel are popping up, such as Nine Crows in Dublin, Dublin Vintage Factory, and Old Soul Vintage in Waterford. Vintage boutiques are now fighting against single-use clothes, particularly party wear. These include No.8 in Galway and the three SiopaElla shops in Dublin.
Whatever your style or whatever is your reason, there’s a vintage (or perhaps retro or antique) item waiting to be rehomed by you.
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