Trying to decide which items of clothing and accessories ‘count’ as vintage fashion is a challenging task; the market and tastes for vintage are new and evolving even if the clothing in question isn’t. But the current vintage craze hasn’t come from nothing, as any other fashion trend it takes inspiration from history and from other aspects of popular culture like film and television.
Interest in designerwear hailing from the period c.1920-1950s isn’t a recent trend in fashion terms. Both the period between the World Wars and the post-war period saw some of the most dramatic shifts in women’s designerwear, associated first with the ‘Jazz Age’ and ‘Roaring Twenties’ in the US and later the ‘New Look’ era of austerity Europe. Many of the biggest names in 20th century fashion are most closely associated with these periods including Chanel, Schiaparelli, Dior and Balenciaga. The 1960s saw breakaways from these dominant couture houses to form their own brands, such as Yves Saint Laurent, which resulted in the arrangement of major houses still prominent among vintage enthusiasts today.
The 1950s saw a marked change not only in the types of clothing being produced but also in their methods of production. Bright, comparatively inexpensive daywear became mass-produced in this period, paving the way for the design transformations of the 1960s. Unisex, vinyl and PVC all found their way into everyday fashions in this decade known for the Beatles, Pop Art and counterculture. Informal vintage from the second half of the 20th century is generally more wearable today and so has a growing market. The continuing popularity of festivals and the revival of the psychedelic has reinforced the renewed interest in the ‘60s among young people.
Menswear and TV
Since 2010 there has been a marked uptake in the popularity of vintage clothing amongst men and women, some say because of the demands of economic recession after the 2008 financial crisis, which contributed to the American craze of ‘thrift store chic’, and the influence of other retro and vintage crazes such as for vinyl records. It isn’t just the music industry, though, that has help inject life back into vintage styles; the success of 20th century period television and film with unstructured men’s clothing showing signs of a return in recent years. The influence of television on men’s vintage formal and informal wear has contributed to blurring the lines between the two while ‘heritage references’ can be found in all manner of apparel from jackets to footwear.