What is all the hype about?
By Mohamed Alkawaja
Fashion is always changing. But why is the industry fixated with the past? Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, was seen on several occasions wearing vintage fashion pieces. The Kardashians, known for their extravagant clothing, are frequently seen wearing dresses from earlier times. Vintage clothing is unquestionably trending now more than ever. Fashion Icon Coco Chanel all but predicted this with her famous quote: "Fashion comes and goes, but style lasts forever." But it still begs the question: why does fashion come and go, and why is there an obsession with the past?
Vintage has several definitions. And in terms of fashion, it's even more relative, as it is a personal notion. Someone born in the 1970s would not consider something vintage the same way a millennial would. Fashion connoisseurs Scarlet Eden and Stella McClure believe that vintage clothing is simply any piece that is more than twenty years old. Others believe that it needs to be from the past century to be considered vintage. Vintage clothing can be identified as uncommon, second-hand clothing, and the initial attraction to these pieces is tied to sustainable fashion and originality.
Originality and Hype
Vintage clothing has become more popular in the past few years than ever. From brands like Brandy Melville, known for their vintage style, to massive fashion empires like Forever 21 and H&M, we see the showcasing of new pieces just like the ones worn decades ago. People love vintage and indeed, there is an original and hype factor to vintage fashion. On the other hand, the vintage clothes we see at thrift stores are pieces that are second-hand. These types of stores tend to sell original pieces that are hard to match customarily. Although vintage is now more available and less novel, we still see a strange and authentic style. As issues such as a lack of diversity, self-esteem, and identity arise, being original is critical.
Moreover, nowadays, there's a hot word in fashion: hype—a slang expression from the word hyperbole; it expresses something fun and inspiring. In style, these hype clothes are often unique, original, wild, and vigorously promoted and publicized. Many brands are now doing "product drops" as a sales strategy to the point where it has become the culture and a brand's main selling point.
In vintage fashion, the hype has become so prominent and popularized due primarily to social media influence. Nowadays, social media almost directly impacts popular demand and culture. Suppose any "It girl" like Kendall Jenner is spotted with a short strap shoulder bag or floss heels (vintage fashion). In that case, thousands of teenagers will be desperate to buy it the following day. With affordable and famous fashion brands (fast fashion) on the rise, they can mass produce these vintage-inspired items. Then people will be fast to buy them due to the "It girl" factor, availability, and affordability. This can quickly turn these items into an actual trend, as we see now.
Additionally, as consumers become more aware of fast fashion's environmental impact, they are also looking for more sustainable ways to shop. This creates a perfect environment for thrift stores and vintage styles to succeed. According to a study from Vogue, last year, 64% of women were more willing to purchase second-hand clothing vs. 45% in 2016. This signifies the behavioral shift that causes the imminent revolution in the most destructive industry to the planet: the fashion industry. In fact, according to fashion revolution, “each year an estimated 92 million tons of textile waste is created from the fashion industry. And every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or burned globally.” Choosing to buy second-hand vintage clothing has become much more prevalent these days, which matches the shift to an eco-friendly goal in the fashion business. From the unique artistic hype to the environmental impact, vintage fashion's popularization is changing the fashion industry for good.
Examples of Vintage Fashion
A piece that is loaded with style and history.
This is not a new piece. It has been used in royal families and in religious/political matters. However, the headscarf is now trending as an accessory.
The 1940’s trend is aesthetic, innovative, and functional.
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“Hype.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster,
“Is Buying Vintage Clothing the Most Eco Way to Shop?” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 25 Apr. 2019,
“Tie A Head Scarf: Travelshopa Guides in 2020: Scarf Hairstyles, Headband Hairstyles, Bandana Hairstyles.” Pinterest, br.pinterest.com/pin/34551122131070260/.
“Waste – Is It 'Really' in Fashion?” Fashion Revolution, 17 Mar. 2020, number of garments produced,is landfilled or burned globally.