Retro: you’re brand new


By Aleks Cvetkovic

Vintage fashion? Nowadays, it’s just that; ‘vintage’. The love of retro style is nothing new, having developed far beyond a seasonal trend; the retro scene has been around for years and is now no longer a fleeting fancy but an ever-popular industry in itself. The challenge with any industry is how to keep it fresh and desirable – after all, there are only so many sheepskin coats and denim jackets out there in circulation. The edgy, shabby-chic aesthetic which vintage fashion offers is undoubtedly attractive, but it’s becoming ever more difficult to achieve an arresting vintage look, given the difficulty of finding vintage pieces which have dated well. A classic tweed blazer can be a beautiful thing, but not when it’s complimented by a lapel the size of a gang-plank, a hand full of moth-balls and the purveying odour of grandma’s favourite feline companion.

The continual growth in the popularity of vintage clothing means that more and more of the sartorially savvy are competing for a gradually decreasing availability of products. This is something which the high street has begun to recognise, and the last few seasons have seen a move towards authentic recreations of vintage inspired collections with modern twists. For the first time in years, the football button and the trouser pleat are back with a vengeance. The high street has started producing some truly handsome vintage-inspired pieces, ranging from Topman’s striking Oxford bag chinos, 60s inspired mod-suiting at Reiss, to River Island’s plush patterned playsuits.

There is also something to be said for the accompanying revival in quality in purchasing a modern product, produced using modern manufacturing techniques and fabrics. The customer can get their hands on a garment that not only lasts and arguably wears better than aged vintage clothing, but is also made with finer fabrics and superior attention to detail. A cursory afternoon’s window shopping in Cornmarket serves to illustrate the point – the shop windows are awash with heritage inspired cloths: flamboyant cotton canvasses and corduroys, awesome paisley, abundant Aztec and floral prints, as well as superfine British tweeds.

Impressive though this sounds, there is nonetheless an issue with the high street’s vintage revival; what the big name brands offer in modern quality and updated styling is offset by a weighty price-tag. Heritage inspired style is fashion at its most desirable, a fact that the marketing machines of the high street stores are only too aware of. The premium price-tag accompanying heritage inspired fashion, can pose a serious problem for our student budgets, and confines it to the realm of the occasional investment piece.

It also has to be said that despite its aforementioned imperfections, wearing genuine vintage does come with its own unique sense of satisfaction which modern ‘vintage-inspired’ dress lacks. There is nothing more authentic than the real deal: nothing quite beats finding a real vintage gem after an afternoon of frantic scrabbling at crowded clothes rails, practically praying for something to take your fancy.

Ultimately then, perhaps it boils down to what the individual fashionista desires; the difference between vintage authenticity and contemporary heritage inspired style can make for intriguing shopping decisions. Rather than challenging the existing vintage scene, the modern obsession with heritage offers a wealth of new possibilities for dressing with a nod to our fashionable past, providing a means to quite literally update aspects of vintage style which date less well. By blending ‘vintage’ and ‘heritage’ in our wardrobes, we can obtain the best of both worlds; an authentic vintage look with the reassuring modernity of contemporary fashion.

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