A Case for Vintage
You are what you wear.
Superficial statement? Perhaps. But maybe, if you think about it a minute, you’d start to see it makes quite a bit of sense.
Fashion is more than just a passionate love for expressing oneself through clothes, it is the manifestation of the holy trinity of identity: status, recognition and belonging.
The rise of fast fashion brought with it a hoard of far reaching symptoms and yes, its most devastating ones are its string of negative social and environmental impacts. However, it’s a lot more insidious than that – the role of clothing in our lives has been usurped on a fundamental level, completely eradicating people’s relationship with what they wear. Think of the meticulousness with which an individual from the 30’s or 40’s would select, wear and maintain their outfit, stretching out its lifespan so far into the future that their wardrobes remain intact today.
People’s clothes mattered because they were an extension of who they were; it gave them a sense of belonging and pride, and they were well kept because of the respect they had for the memories and stories attached to them. And this is one of the fundamental ills of the fast fashion model: styles come cheap, fast and uninterruptedly, zapping the time needed to build appreciation and associations with moments in our life into oblivion, so that what we are left with is a perpetual flow of empty, impulsive desires which we immediately proceed to satisfy with the passionate urgency of an addict. This is not fashion; and, to use a modern buzzword, this is not consciousness.
One of the biggest ways in which my journey into sustainable fashion shaped me, was to get me to stop and think about why I was buying this or that. I began to search for items that truly reflected who I was and the things I loved most. I scoured the markets of cities I traveled to for pieces that really screamed to me, I had adventures looking for hidden gems and discussed at length with vintage sellers to hear their stories - and, best of all, I fell in love with my aunt’s and mother’s old clothes, because it became a way for me to carry them with me. And as I did those things, I found I got to know myself too. I can’t say for certain what came first, but it was definitely a process that went hand in hand. It took time, but I now know who I am and what I stand for, and it shows.
Sustainable fashion doesn’t mean transforming into an eco warrior princess. It begins with understanding that we are what we purchase, not just in aesthetic, but also in what ideas and principles those garments embody, and luckily, the recent wave towards sustainable practices means there’s an immense amount of choice out there. Sustainable fashion now comes in all styles, shapes, sizes and budgets; from thrift and vintage, to modern innovations creating interesting new shapes, textures and cuts with new production processes and fabrics taken from creative sources such as coffee and wine. It's an exciting time for fashion, because moving forward and making conscious choices will mean people will have to stop and think twice about what they really want, unearthing creative potential while tapping into their own sense of individuality, and in so doing, will get to know themselves a little better.
The future of fashion is clear. Buy less, buy well, and wear your grandma's clothes.