Reviving the past

The new fashion trend seems to involve some digging

If you think the days of shoulder pads, high-waisted jeans and tie-dye shirts are over, think again.

The earlier decades may be history to some, but there seem to be many who can’t wait to bring back bits and pieces of the past.

Fashionistas are looking at vintage clothing for unique looks.

“I love vintage clothing. I think it’s better than the commercial clothing out there,” says Ruwaida Mortuza, a vintage-lover. “What attracts me the most is knowing that it’s from a certain period in time.

“It makes it more unique, one of a kind. I know no one has the things I have.”

Despite her love for vintage clothing, Mortuza says she has not had the chance to go hunting for hidden treasures in stores and instead resorts to raiding her parents’ and grandparents’ closets.

Sherri Lyn Higgins showcases her favourite flapper-style dress from the 70s in the store.According to Sherri Lyn Higgins, a buyer for vintage store Tribal Rhythm on Queen Street, interest in vintage clothing has been increasing.

“I think for a couple of years, vintage was a little on the decline, but it seems as if it’s picking up again and people are starting to come back around to it,” she says.

But she also says that the term “vintage” has been used very loosely for second-hand clothing.

“I’m not even sure about calling ’90s stuff vintage. I kind of think vintage should be at least 20 years old. You know now they’re using the term vintage for things in the ’90s, it just seems like such recent history,” Higgins says.

There was a time when vintage clothing was seen as a fashion no-no, but now, apparently, it’s the hip thing to wear. With more celebrities showcasing their vintage pieces on the red carpet, and Sarah Jessica Parker parading around in her vintage outfits on the popular TV series Sex and the City, it’s no wonder everyone’s jumping on the vintage-wagon.

But wearing vintage clothing is not just a trend for some. Higgins says most of her friends have been vintage shoppers for over 20 years, and there is a solid customer base that will keep coming, regardless of current trends.

“Anyone who’s kind of artistic or whatever you want to call it has probably been wearing vintage for a long time. For instance, in Kensington Market, there’s been vintage stores there since the ’60s and funky people have been wearing vintage clothing since then,” she says. “It kind of comes and goes as a trend in the wider culture, but there are always some people who dress that way.”

Higgins says most people nowadays like to mix-and-match their vintage pieces with some newer items.

“I would say people are very eclectic these days. There’s a kind of over-riding ’80s vibe right now, but people like to mix it up,” Higgins says. “They get really nicely cut jackets from H&M or they get really nice jeans and they just mix it up.”

With this growing trend, there has also been an increase in fake vintage items that are being sold. Higgins says spotting a fake is tricky.

Tribal Rhythm, a vintage store on Queen Street, is filled with items from different eras.“It’s kind of something you get a feel for, the way the fabric feels, the prints and the tag,” she says. “If it was kind of an inexpensive line at the time, they’re probably not going to make a knockoff of it.

“The things that you have to be careful of are designer names.”

Having been in the business for seven years, Higgins says her own wardrobe is about 50 per cent vintage pieces. She describes vintage clothing as aged wine, something that is appreciated more with time.

But some people aren’t as enthusiastic about wearing second-hand clothing.

“If I know that it has been used before, I wouldn’t buy it,” says Israa Nasir, a 21-year-old university student. “I share clothes with my sister and my friends, but it’s just the concept of someone else, some unknown person wearing it, it makes me uncomfortable.”

But Nasir says she could see the appeal in vintage clothing. She says there is a certain charm to things of days gone by, and that people are nostalgic and wants to bring back old trends. Nasir also says she thinks vintage is making a comeback because of the lack of a style among the younger generation.

“It’s just that we don’t have a defining way of dressing. Every time period has had their thing, like the 80s with their high-waisted jeans and whatnot, the cutoff shirts and the ’70s and their thing,” she says. “I feel like we as a generation don’t have an original concept.”

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Posted: Oct 12 2008 5:34 pm
Filed under: Features