Monday, September 20, 2010

Retro? Vintage? Fashion Watch!

There's a lot of chat about retro and vintage these days.  Etsy has an entire category dedicated to it and if you search for "vintage" you'll come up with over 800,000 items.  A search for "vintage" on Ebay comes up just short of 3 million listings.  When people started talking about "retro" and "vintage", I have to be honest -- I didn't get it.  I didn't understand why it was such a trend.  And in these past couple weeks, as I've been reading up on fashion trends for the future, I'm seeing a lot of "vintage" and "vintage inspired" looks heading our way.  So why is it so popular?  I'm not sure what everybody is thinking, but I can see a few reasons.

First, it's part of the "green" movement.  Instead of throwing things into landfills, we are looking for ways to re-claim an item's usefulness.  "Upcycled" and "repurposed" items are a hot commodity -- finding new ways to use old things.  Old blankets and quilts are made over into pillows, vests, stuffed toys and ornaments.   Blue jeans become purses.  Steampunk jewelry uses parts from old watches and well worn children's books are used to make stationery.  Old plates become clocks.  This etsy seller used an old chair to make an awesome tree swing:

Second, it's not unusual in difficult economic times to "tighten your belt" and "get along with what you've got".  Our grandparents and great-grandparents did it during the Great Depression of the 1930's and again during the World Wars.  If their clothes still "had wear in them", they wore them ... for 2, 3, 5 years or even longer, regardless of what the fashion trends were.  And when their clothes started wearing out, they cut them up and used them for quilts.  They "repurposed" ... not because they were concerned for the environment, but out of economic necessity.  For those of us feeling the economic crunch of our current day, we look around at what we have and envision new life for our old stuff.  Finding new ways to utilize old things not only feeds our need for financial consciousness, it brings a sense of satisfaction.  We are productive and have accomplished something beneficial.

And finally, it's the simple nostalgia of it.  It reminds us of times we remember as simpler and less complicated, easier, and less worrisome ... times when we felt safe.  It's grandma's house or an old photo album.  It's the connection to our roots and our families.  It's the smell of cookies baking or making snow angels.  It's drive in movies and the refreshment of going swimming on a hot summer's evening.  It's a family picnic with fresh-squeezed lemonade.  It's snuggling under a quilt with a big bowl of popcorn.

"Vintage" represents happiness and contentment, love and family, stability and perseverance, character and creativity.  Fashions have often been more a reflection of the culture than the leaders that shaped the culture and judging by the fashion trends I've been seeing lately, our clothes are going to reflect our desire for happier times.  While we're not going back to pillbox hats, some of the fashions are going to be cut simply and elegantly, much like Jackie Kennedy's wardrobe while other styles are going to be sweetly flowing romantics.

The book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible says that "there is nothing new under the sun" and there is an expression that "everything old is new again"  -- I think "vintage" is going to be with us for a while!


sammysgrammy said...

I sure hope so because I not only love it and use it myself but in my etsy shop almost every item was once something else.

Very thought provoking post.