Introducing our new monthly fashion & culture columnist Paul McLauchlan
Words by Paul McLauchlan
‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ might be a painfully overused saying but it’s seldom misused. In the case of vintage fashion, even the most skeptical onlookers couldn’t balk at the artistry and lore of collections past that are dominating our favourite retailers, Instagram feeds, and sidewalks.
With the resale economy expected to grow to $77 billion by 2025, a company like Vestiaire Collective climbing to a $1.7 billion valuation, and eBay launching authenticity guarantees for luxury handbags, the world of vintage resale is growing vastly.
Beyond the stylistic elements, which are a huge driving force in the market, the desire for vintage fashion is also consistent with the more conscientious shoppers among us who pride themselves on purchasing with their environmentally-conscious caps on. With over 120 billion articles of new clothing and footwear bought each year, shopping for pre-loved fashion presents us with the chance to rethink the meaning of our wardrobes. Of course, in order to shift consumer perception, vintage fashion is only in service to the environment when it replaces a new purchase. No longer should we buy to wear once – our clothes are heirlooms.
"iT Is WoRTH tHE iNVEsTMEnT aND iN MANy WAyS, It'S mORE SpECIAl ThAN THe CuRREnT DeSIGn SEaSONs"
This note of preservation and nostalgia is echoed by KOIBIRD founder Belma Gaudio: “With vintage, it’s not just about reselling old clothes. These pieces are great moments in fashion history, they are collectables…The trends we currently see are all inspired by some vintage pieces.”
Gaudio’s love for vintage started as a teenager at university hunting for affordable finds on Melrose Place in Los Angeles before designer vintage caught her eye. Initially, the love of vintage came from scoring an amazing piece at an affordable price, something utterly unique and covetable which, she explains, is “the ultimate luxury: sourcing, owning, and wearing something that nobody else will have.” It was this love that led Gaudio to launch KOIBIRD’S vintage collection, venturing into the resale market for the first time.
“In this day and age, where everything is accessible and available, vintage remains the true gem that should always have a place in our wardrobes. It is worth the investment and in many ways, it's more special than the current designer seasons,” she says.
"To SHOp ViNTAgE Is tO InDUlGE In THe ArT Of REdISCOvERy"
From Jean Paul Gaultier’s iconic sheer flamingo tops and dresses to an original Roberto Cavalli slip dress, and Michael Kors for Celine shorts complete with chains, KOIBIRD’s offering does more than provide a sartorially expansive curation, rather it charts some of the most exciting moments in fashion history. Alongside Fendi baguettes, one can find everything from the likes of Comme des Garçons, Moschino, Leonard and Chanel, to sought-after Ghesquière-era Balenciaga and Givenchy during the McQueen years.
Unlike the world of contemporary fashion, often led by branding and buzzworthy associations, vintage prevails in its ability to anchor itself to a period of time.
It-girl du jour Bella Hadid, no stranger to the vintage craze with a wardrobe that spans Stella McCartney for Chloé (the supermodel had just turned one when the British designer joined the brand) to Vivienne Westwood from the early 1990s (which predates her tender 25 years), proves this like no other. Whether swanning the red carpet galas or stalking the streets of New York City, the model has an aptitude for resurrecting some of the finest and even some lesser-known moments from fashion history and flaunting them with convincingly modern verve. So invested in vintage, Hadid has a network of suppliers who she often communicates with over Instagram. Enter Paris-based @yourgarmentz, the insider for the vintage insiders, who also supplies sister Gigi, fellow supermodel Kendall Jenner and singer Dua Lipa with iconic 90s and early 2000s fashion pieces – think OG Dior Saddle bags.
On the red carpet, Zendaya has turned heads in a spring/summer 1992 Valentino column gown and a slinky Yves Saint Laurent number from 1982 with voluminous sleeves to great aplomb. That Hadid and Zendaya were born after much of their secondhand treasures is indicative of a generational mindset that yearns for a glimpse into the stylistic pursuits of bygone eras.
While the biggest issue with vintage is supply constraints, its function in today’s fashion conversation is less about bottom lines and more about sustaining a positive impact on our wardrobes and the environment. In the same vein as Gaudio trawling the vintage marts of Melrose Place, and today’s teens scrolling for hours on sites like Depop, to shop vintage is to indulge in the art of rediscovery. A vintage piece, imparted with years of memories, either forlornly tossed to the back of a wardrobe, or worn until threadbare, is to be cherished – old but never out of style.
pAUl'S PIcKS Of ThE MoNtH
Striped Sheer Sarong & Top Set
There’s something utterly contemporary about this flouncy Jean-Paul Gaultier top and skirt.
A beloved bag: the Fendi baguette craze is complemented perfectly with this mini option
Coperni cool! The French brand has designed the accessory of the moment beloved by the likes of Kendall Jenner and the Instagram set
STORIES OF ITALY
Macchia Su Macchia Murano Flamingo Glasses
It’s true: these Murano glasses look good enough to eat. A surefire way to brighten up your dining table.
Crystal Buckle Blazer
Nothing sparks joy quite like this blazer from New York label Area