Changes in fashion seem to come and go like a summer rainstorm, here one minute and gone the next. However, one fashion trend has been picking up steam for a while and is now poised to be a strong contender in 2020. Yes, vintage fashion is coming back this season and it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. To better understand the resurgence of vintage fashion, let’s explore just how this trend started.
It All Starts with the Environment and Human Rights
Like so many other modern movements, the resurgence of vintage fashion came about from a desire to protect the environment and the rights of people across the globe. Modern fast fashion has long been at the forefront of many human rights and environmental conservation group movements; however, only now is the general population beginning to take notice. Today we produce and purchase over 400% more clothing than we did two decades ago, with each American generating around 82 pounds of textile waste every year. This adds up to over 11 million tons of waste within the U.S alone.
Decades ago clothing was an investment that would last for years; however, today due to fast fashion, we are more inclined to buy cheap textile goods only to wear them once and discard them. This has led to an increase in supply and demand with fashion producers making more and more products to help satiate the nation’s obsession with new cheap products. However, the affordability of these new clothes comes with a cost that many people seldom realize.
For these textile products to be made so affordable, producers utilize underpaid garment workers to help keep costs low. In Bangladesh, the average income for garment workers is $96 every month. For reference, this is $20 less than what a minimum wage worker in the United States makes in two days. In addition to that, child labor remains a serious problem with estimates reporting nearly 16.7 million children ages five to 17 working in South Asia alone.
While American consumers may love the low cost and accessibility of fast fashion, the invisible costs that go into sustaining the industry are something that needs to be seriously considered.
The Benefits of Buying Vintage
Well maintained clothes can last for a long time. For instance, investing in a leather jacket that you found at a thrift store can have a couple of significant benefits. Not only will it last you for decades if you use a good protection cream every four to six months but it helps recycle a product that would otherwise go to waste. While there are many debates about the ethical principles of leather attire, buying them from a thrift shop, as opposed to throwing them out, is the overall better practice.
Thrifting benefits don’t only include items made from leather and fur, but also to cotton and synthetic made items. Clothing made from synthetic fibers can take over 200 years to break down in a landfill, further adding to the waste and pollution problems we are suffering. Thrifting is the ultimate way of helping create a sustainable clothing market that reduces waste and the infringement of human rights.
This increase in thrifting is also what has contributed to the trend of vintage fashion. Because many older clothing items are made to last, you can often find clothing in near new condition that’s been around for decades. Investing in clothing like this can help reduce your environmental footprint, while also encouraging others to take advantage of thrifting.
Some thrift shops will even offer discounts if you buy items after donating. This allows you to update your wardrobe in a sustainable manner that can also help save you hundreds of dollars when compared to buying from a standard retailer. Additionally, even if you’re not looking to buy new clothing, donating the clothes that you’re not using is a great way of decluttering without contributing to landfill pollution.
Taking Care of Your Clothes
What was once a staple in society is now something largely overlooked. Decades ago people would go to great lengths to keep their clothes neat and orderly; however, today many people would simply throw out a jacket rather than take the time to mend a missing button. This disconnect stems largely from the accessibility to fast fashion mentioned above. Why mend old clothes when you can simply buy something new that’s on sale?
To change this way of thinking, we need to consider the impact that not caring for clothes has on the environment. Frequent washing and improper washing can lead to garments wearing down faster than need be. Washing synthetic clothes is likewise responsible for adding 500,000 tons of microfibers into the ocean every year. In addition to that, many U.S. households use over 350 gallons of water every day. While this may seem trivial, setting aside one day each week for washing and taking the time to wash properly, can help reduce waste and keep your clothes lasting longer.
Dry cleaning is another option that is often overlooked in America today. Whereas dry cleaners were frequently used decades ago, the decline of the industry is now permanent. This decline has also impacted clothing manufacturers who now are avoiding making clothes with “dry clean only” labels since they believe this will make people less likely to buy their products. This, coupled with the fact that cheaper clothing costs make dry cleaning look more expensive in contrast to buying a new replacement, is contributing to the overall market decline.
While traditional dry cleaning does use environmentally unfriendly chemicals, green dry cleaning options do exist. This option is something to keep in mind when browsing for vintage clothing, especially when you’re more likely to find garments that require this special treatment to stay looking their best.
If you’re unfamiliar with clothing upkeep, take a moment to look up different methods for cleaning and mending before deciding its time to toss out an item. Little steps like this can help you get the most life out of your clothes and allow you to keep the clothes you love for much much longer.
Vintage for Casual and Formal Wear
Vintage shops and thrift stores across the nation are perfect for finding vintage items for any occasion. In many shops, you can even find mint condition wedding gowns for a fraction of what you would pay at a boutique. Since 63% of brides say that they feel pressured to have a perfect wedding, investing in a stunning vintage dress can help alleviate some of this stress (and help save money overall).
Many of these shops will also have prom dresses once the season rolls around making them the perfect place to shop without worrying about blowing your budget. With prom tickets already costing between $90 and $100 per couple, saving on the perfect dress is something every mom (and dad) can smile about.
Vintage casual wear is also something to be on the lookout for. What was once outdated is now seeing a new renaissance with trendy designers utilizing inspiration to bring back old designs. However, instead of buying brand new clothes based on vintage styles, why not just invest in the real deal? From vintage dresses, pants, blouses, tees, and shoes, secondhand shops are some of the best places to find deals on these trends without breaking the bank.
Good for Everyone
Above all, the vintage resurgence benefits everyone. Thrifting vintage styles allow you to recycle clothes that would otherwise go to waste, while also mitigating your contribution to the fast fashion machine. If taken care of properly, the clothes you buy now could stand to last you for decades, further saving you time and money, while also lowering the amount of waste introduced into the environment.
At the end of the day, consider the impacts that your fashion choices can have, and strive to learn more about how you can do your part to help make a change. After all, you don’t have to sacrifice fashion to be eco-friendly, and the vintage fashion trend proves it.