Aug 10, 2019 | By Luke Tebbutt
Apr 03, 2017
By WGSN Insider
There is a line in the book Deluxe: How Luxury Lost its Luster, where the fashion journalist Dana Thomas writes “The desire by customers to find that impeccable uniqueness for less than the price of a car or a house has created a new subsection in fashion: vintage”. Thomas argues that since luxury fashion went from niche to mass, the consumer is now looking for the next big thing in luxury, and in 2008 the answer was vintage fashion. And since her book was published, vintage fashion has continued to grow and grow in appeal.
This vintage luxury fashion sub section of the retail market has grown concurrent with the rise of luxury consignment sites like The Real Real, a consignment website that sells brands such as Hermès and Givenchy via a flash sale model and has more than 4.5 million members. Then there’s Vestiaire Collective– a site that is hugely popular with fashion fans, editors and bloggers alike. It is seen as a major e-commerce player, think Net-a-Porter for vintage fashion, and the reason for its success? It’s great if you are selling your designer garments and accessories (money-wise you are more likely to get back close to what you purchased the item for originally) and great for the buyer who missed the first wave of that luxury handbag and now gets to own a bit of that luxury design magic. Within the current retail industry (fed by an obsession with speed to market) this quick turnaround is also the secret to the site’s success.
This boom in the secondhand consumer-to-consumer (c-to-c) online market, particularly in the luxury sector, has also given rise to apps like Depop and Poshmark. Fashionista.com reported that Poshmark, an app that facilitates c-to-c secondhand selling, saw “almost a half billion dollars of fresh inventory listed on its site in the first quarter of 2015, a 60% jump from the previous quarter”.
One scroll through Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr reveals that the most recent vintage item that is making waves on social media is the Gucci belt.
The current Gucci belt fever is a great example of why vintage is so popular right now. For Millennials with disposable incomes it feeds our appetite for nostalgia and more importantly within the sea of fast fashion sameness, vintage can offer up something that feels unique, and classic. While some brands have fed this consumer appetite for nostalgia by re-realeasing archive collections, others have seen key classic products go viral on Instagram and offered up new versions of their classics. The Gucci belt with its interlocking gold G’s (the brand’s calling card), is more subtle and subdued than investing in the full Alessandro Michele head to toe look, but it is a way for fashion fans to get a piece of the hottest brand right now, and if you don’t have the funds for a new one, there’s also the likelihood that vintage sites have a classic version at a more affordable price point.
On our main WGSN site we’ve just updated our Vintage Global Guide, listing all the key locations to get vintage garments and travel to for inspiration trips (subscribers can check it out in full here).
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