Items That Are Always Better to Buy Vintage
While Stain and other vintage enthusiasts believe that everyone should buy every item of clothing vintage (except maybe underwear) there are certain staple items that have become the canon of vintage clothing.
As leather and denim jackets get older, they start to loosen and fit more like a comfy hug than a restricting squeeze. Jumpers become cosier through decades of winters. And 70s “inspired” prints will never compare to the floral dresses that were actually worn to summer festivals and Fleetwood Mac shows.
“I would have to say everything,” says Kathy Stevenson, owner of 5678 Vintage, when asked what item is always better to buy vintage, “But if I had to narrow it down, I would say a dress with a really good print.”
“I worked for a high street store's head office for years and the depressing thing is that you start to recognize all the prints, even from the other stores you don't work for,” says Stevenson, “The worst thing is when you buy something new that you really love, and then all of a sudden everyone has the same thing and it's no longer special.”
Whether you’ve been in love with classic 501’s since you saw Nick Kamen in the infamous Laundromat commercial, or prefer your Levi’s chopped into shorts and high-waisted, there’s no denying that vintage Levi jeans are one of the most recognizable pieces of vintage clothing. Vintage stores are always stocked with them, Depop has over 48000 listings for Levi jeans, and there’s a good chance you’ve tried on a vintage pair without ever stepping into a Levi’s high street store.
“Jeans are always better if you buy them vintage,” Daniela Rodrigues, the Depop star behind @Cool_ As Kim_Deal, says, “Their quality, durability and fit is just way better and their denim wash is always more appealing to me. I've always struggled to find modern jeans that would actually fit my figure but I don't have that problem when I browse around the denim section at vintage stores.”
Whether it’s a vintage Burberry trench coat or an army jacket still with the original name patch sewn on, vintage coats are a must purchase. “The best vintage item for me is a jacket. It’s the place I go first,” says Ele Ward, sustainable activist behind Sustainable Hustle, “With jackets you have to be patient because vintage sizing can be challenging but when you find one that fits or that’s really unique I think it’s one of the most rewarding items you can find.”
Quality is one of the most amazing things about buying vintage, especially with coats and jackets. When an item of clothing has lasted for decades it shows that the fabric and make is of the best quality.
“I would always tell people to buy their coats vintage,” says Samaya Ling, owner of Samaya Ling Vintage, which she has run for over 15 years, “I have so many vintage coats. They are so well made and have usually stayed in good condition, are always unique, and super stylish.”
Vintage products are usually of better quality because synthetic fibres, such as polyester, were only introduced into mainstream fashion in the 60s. Before then clothing was made from natural and durable materials such as wool and leather. While synthetic materials may never break down in a landfill they do rip, fade, stretch, and lose their form more easily, which contributes to them often being worn only a few times before they are discarded.
“I love vintage chunky knit jumpers, I have way too many of them,” says Mila Guan, vintage blogger and owner of Guan Vintage Shop, “The quality and warmth is better when you buy it vintage because its always real wool instead of the synthetic fabrics that so many new cardigans and jumpers are made of. And they’re never as itchy as people think!”
Today, in the time of Depop and Brick Lane vintage market, retro sportswear from the 90s and 80s has exploded on the vintage scene. “I love vintage sportswear, especially jerseys. I don’t think you can compare it to sportswear made today,” says Kristy Chan, the Depop seller behind @Usta, “It’s the best feeling when you find a piece from a sports team that has changed their logo in recent years because you know you’ll never be able to find anything like it again.”
Vintage sportswear has developed from active wear to fashion pieces by vintage stores and people re-working items into dresses, crop tops, and co-ord outfits. “There’s also a huge industry for re-worked vintage sportswear now. You can even crop sweatshirts and jerseys at home yourself to make them unique,” says Chan.
Sarah Horrillo, owner of London Ophelia Vintage Emporium, found picking just one item that is always better vintage too difficult a question to answer (which is fair enough for someone who has dedicated her life to vintage). But Sarah did have some words of vintage wisdom, “I’d say you should mix your high-street and vintage pieces together but be as sustainable as you can and always keep your individuality. Buying vintage whenever you can ensures that you’ll stand out of the crowd and that you’ll be a style setter not a style follower.”
Shot on a
Words: Sophie Butterfield
Model: Raven O’Riley
Photographer: Negele Hospedales
Styling: Sophie Butterfield
Hair/Make-up: Sophie Butterfield