The Vintage Revival

Girl on Vintage BicycleBecause we just can’t resist style

In recent times the interest in all things vintage has grown out of a tiny world populated by niche hobbyists; once lingering around the edges of popular culture, quiffing their hair in darkened dance halls and jiving at specialist events at racecourses.

But not any more, people. Vintage is huge, vintage is mainstream and vintage is now.

Vintage crosses many a genre and it’s probably safe to say that most people you know have an interest in a vintage something or other. Whether that be your Dad who’s into his vintage cars, bicycles or motorbikes; secretly harbouring a desire to buy a 1960s Triumph and cruise across the countryside with a beautiful woman in his sidecar, a silk scarf in her hair, whipping in the wind.

Or perhaps it’s your trendy work chum with a penchant for vintage Danish light fittings and Eames’ chairs that all just seem to fit in so wonderfully into his Hampstead study?

Sharing the fun

And of course there are the festivals. No longer small and specialist, vintage and retro festivals are up there with the big boys, hanging out with your Latitudes, your Glastonburys, Reading and Leeds. Punters stylishly dressed up to the nines, glamping it up in the fields and going to see retro style bands like The Macabees or actual proper old-school bands getting it back together for 2013, and of course, for the love of all things vintage and old.

Above all, there’s vintage fashion.

Now fully entrenched into the mainstream, you are most likely influenced by vintage fashion whether you know it or not. Never before has there been such amazing style and diversity out there, individual street style has become such a huge influence on high street clothing design and a force to be reckoned with thanks in no mean part to the establishment and flourishing success of everything vintage.

It’s simpler no longer the thing to rock an outfit that’s either all designer or all high street. It’s just not socially acceptable to pop down to your local Topshop and buy yourself an off the rail outfit for your night out at the local banging discotheque. It just ain’t going to cut it anymore (not to mention the potential risk of wearing the same outfit as twenty other women in the club – so not a good look).

No party people, it’s all about individual style and that is where the power of vintage fashion comes in. Dressing the vintage way allows us to mix-up seriously stylish, fashion-forward thrifty finds, mish-mashed with fabulous new pieces for a pulled together look that you can guarantee, no one else will be wearing. Those trendsetting hipsters you see around East London are today’s tastemakers looked to by designers and street style bloggers for inspiration. And the reason why? They mix new styles with vintage finds.

And now, thanks to the success of vintage trends, pretty much every town has a retro emporium, full of hand-picked clothes, magazines and furniture for you to drool over. And seriously, you must have noticed the proliferation of fairs popping up all over the place? Yep, vintage is definitely big business. But what does it actually mean?

What is vintage anyway?

Most people place vintage as a style referring to items from another time, a different era of style and lifestyle; things like beautiful 1940s tea sets, a 1950s formica table or 1960s Twiggy style shift dresses. But the reality is somewhat different.

According to Wayne Hemingway, anything over twenty years old, or pre 1993, is officially vintage, be that clothes, jewellery, lamps or whatever else.

The question still remains; where does it begin? And what’s the difference between vintage and antique? In my experience of selling vintage over many, many years, I would define antique as anything pre 1930s.

For me, it’s from this point in time that design and style became recognisable as something we would wear or use today. For example, I would classify a 1920s beaded flapper dresses as antique and some may say rather contrarily, a 1930s trilby as vintage. One has contemporary resonance, the other doesn’t. Go figure.

So, we’re talking secondhand, right?

And likewise, can you define the difference between vintage and second-hand? No, dear readers, that’s because there simply isn’t one. It is merely a marketing label that has stuck, the difference being indistinguishable, except of course when it comes to the price tag, which for vintage darlings, is considerably higher.

I can’t say I blame the mass interest in all things vintage. I myself live and love it and perhaps we are all simply harking back to a more glamourous time, a different set of ideals to live by and indulging in a nostalgia that is of course rose-tinted, but still deliciously attractive. And vintage fans, if that doesn’t make you feel good, I just don’t know what would.