How to Invest in Future Vintage
We’ve hit a paramount moment in fashion where the desire for “chic-cheap” clothing is fading and many are finally stepping away from fast fashion for good. Shoppers are investing in staple, quality pieces, foregoing disposable clothing, in order to build a wardrobe that will not only last for seasons, but generations. If that sounds like you, Los Angeles stylist Sissy Sainte-Marie recommends looking to slow luxury—where designers strive for an ethical and sustainable business model—when you’re choosing where and how to spend your hard earned wardrobe budget. These pieces are made with a focus on fine fabrics, craftsmanship and durability with timeless design and longevity. “Shopping for quality goods that you will treasure for many years, while also contributing positively to the livelihood of the people making them, just makes an investment purchase that much sweeter,” Sainte-Marie adds. This shift in wardrobe ethics can ultimately lead to an empowering fashion cycle where the investment pieces we’re buying now are the vintage of the future.
“Throughout history, there have always been quality garments that have not only stood the test of time, but also the test of style,” explains color and trend forecaster, Roseanna Roberts. And she’s right: Consider the Levi’s 501 jean. This iconic style was born in 1873, and has lasted through generations, worn by everyone as a staple, from Kurt Cobain to Barack Obama. Their quality, timelessness and now, sense of nostalgia, gives them the power to be deemed vintage today. So what should you look for when purchasing investment pieces? What makes them future vintage contenders?
For writer, stylist and vintage lover, Felicity Sargent, an investment piece should be, “something unique, beautifully constructed, and in some cases sentimental.” When shopping, she invests heavily on blazers, trousers and jackets, and on the quality side, she says to always make sure the garment can withstand years of wear. “I’m a big fan of getting everything reinforced at the tailor—buttons, clasps, seams, etc.” Roberts believes that “fabrics should envelope, colors shouldn’t fade and most of all, it should feel like luxury—whatever that means to you.” This feeling of luxury doesn’t need to come from a price tag, but rather how the piece makes you feel. You know like that pair of ultra-flattering wide-leg trousers from Kowtow that have boss woman written all over them, or that small but mighty Simon Miller bucket bag with tortoise handles that elevates all your outfits. Those type of covetable pieces have staying power. New York-based designer, Caron Callahan, reiterates the importance of specialness in order for a piece to be awarded the future vintage stamp of approval. “People should buy clothes that make them feel truly great about how they look. If you feel like a million bucks, buy it. Those are the pieces you’ll still love to wear year after year.”
More often than not, the investment pieces we’re purchasing now will not only stand the test of time because of their remarkable quality and style, but also because they represented a moment in the fashion industry, big or small. “Future vintage hunters will be able to place the mid twenty-teens when they come across pieces in millennial and blush pink–which has been such a strong color trend for the past few years,” Roberts explains. She also points out how “clothing that captures the current female-forward zeitgeist will resonate decades from now.” For instance, Suzanne Rae’s FW17 pieces embellished with a feminist club crest patch will be forever recognizable as a visual statement of empowerment and evoke a time of female fight, strength and unity.
We may be biased, but shopping small is a key way to invest in future vintage. Indie designers focus on quality over quantity through their choice in sustainable processes like local production, use of organic materials or natural dyes, and their designs push style boundaries while promising longevity and timelessness. There is always a story behind each piece whether it’s the architecture that sparked the designer’s initial inspiration, choice of flowers used to dye a collection or the women’s cooperative that handmade your new favorite knit. Filling your wardrobe one investment piece at a time will lead to a collection of future vintage that you can leave for your children, your children’s children, or pass on to another generation through consignment as a first step. These pieces will be eternally meaningingful. “There’s something incredible about looking at a woman’s wardrobe in its entirety and seeing the story it tells,” says Sargent. We couldn’t agree more.
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