It’s official; we have been completely uprooted by nostalgia. There’s an infatuation both from consumers and high street fashion stores with reproducing their own brand of vintage. With the passing of the latest fashion week in Milan, cutting edge fashion still embraces a desire to reminisce about what our grandparents were wearing. The term ‘vintage’ does no longer specifically address old clothes. Clothing no longer has to be vintage so much as look vintage; with imitations of classic styles ranging from the Saville Row suit, tailor-made shorts and a trend of knitwear.
Not to mention the military haircut sported by the entire male cast of the hit US drama Mad Men. There now seems to be a move away from Toni and Guy and the like, encouraging men to search for their oldest barber who can recreate that 1960s Don Draper look. Do not be fooled by the emergence of ‘barbers’ on the streets of Shoreditch and the ever fashionable Spitalfields where a simple short back and sides will take you back roughly £40.
Inspiration comes also from our unique British heritage. Last year saw a record increase in sales in both quilted and waxed Barbour jackets as well as a sudden reappearance of my favourite, Harris Tweed. A Harris Tweed jacket can be bought from Topman for £150.
With the mass boom in vintage shops however, our trusted charity shop has cotton on to the self coined ‘nostalgarama’. Whilst exploring Manchester’s Northern quarter last month, I stumbled across both an Oxfam and Barnardos shop dedicated to vintage clothes. What surprised me, however, was that these were not charity shop prices. It seems that age can definitely elevate the value of an item with prices ranging from £30 for the ever-popular Adidas sports jacket to £90 for a pair of worn brogues.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never thought fashion has ever entered into such a renaissance of sophistication. But are we to simply let it become an elitist trend? The debate centres more so on where to look. Charity shops are still a first port of call but, obvioly, Oxfam in South Kensington will be of little use to any student.
What we also have to remember is that, for an item such as a second hand suit, it is an investment rather than an expensive phase. A vintage suit often will not be cheaper than any high street brand but will be longer lasting due to the higher percentage of wool as well as being handmade rather than mass produced.
Many of the jackets and coats I own have often been handed down from friends or family members. The most common answer to “where did you get your Barbour?” is almost always “it was my mum/dad’s”.
So, whether we like it or not, it seems our sense of nostalgia won’t be going anywhere soon. Jess Cartner-Morley of The Guardian has already predicted a boom for the summer for a love of everything 1920s after the latest HBO creation Boardwalk Empire.
Perhaps we have entered a stage where the most fashionable items have never been so close to home.