Branded second-hand: what is vintage clothing

    04 Jul 2021

    In order to protect nature, we’ve got to not only sign a petition or use organic materials: we have to consume less. One of the ways of doing it is to buy a stylish outfit. It helps you save your own money and protect the environment.

    Fashionable clothes can be cheap, says Egor Voronkin, Ukrainian stylist, in his article for Chas News. Let’s get to know how this modern-era eco-consumer is getting nice clothes.  


    I have a jacket from Giorgio Armani, for which I paid tens of times less than the market value. And you can too.

    Sounds, of course, like a lure to personal growth courses, but it’s true. You can. It only takes a little effort.

    To begin with, it is necessary to explain what we are talking about. There is such a thing as vintage clothes. Usually, these are original things of the last generation (made not later than 20-30 years ago), which convey the fashion trends of their era.

    Demand for vintage has existed since the 1950s, but this style gained popularity in the 90s. This was facilitated by the fascination of vintage clothing with media personalities and the wives of presidents. Vinyl-era connoisseurs include Michelle Obama, Julia Roberts, Renee Zellweger, Dita von Teese, and Kate Moss.

    Such things are not only stylish – wearing them benefits the environment. For example, what do you associate with the pollution of the planet? Most likely, you call to memory the emissions of factories, oil production, etc. However, the fashion industry is also making a significant strike on the environment.

    According to Natural Science, in 2015 the industry emitted more than 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gases. Is it a lot or a little? To realize the scale: this is more than the damage done by all the planes and ships on the planet combined.

    We can’t change the fashion industry right now, but we can become more responsible and adjust our consumer habits. Therefore, vintage is one of the options of “reasonable use”.

    I am closely connected with the world of fashion, I know about brands and their features. But I have a problem: when I want to buy jackets for $2000, unfortunately, I can’t. However, I do not want to prefer things from the mass market.

    “Why such jackets?”, you ask. And why are they worth that amount of money?

    We can talk about this for a long time, so I will give a simple example. Have you ever wondered why people (in Eastern Europe) want to drive a Mercedes and not a Zhyguli? (Small class car model, popular since 1970 in the USSR and post-USSR – Ecolife). The same story goes with the jacket.

    Wearing a Yves Saint Laurent jacket, you seem to be sitting in a Mercedes: it does not restrict movements, does not bounce when gesturing; makes the silhouette clear, hiding flaws. In short, you feel a huge difference between a YSL jacket and a Zara jacket.

    So that’s what it’s all about. Living in quarantine, I had a lot of free time and started studying Ukrainian Instagram groups that sell vintage clothes.

    Most of them are “top buyers” of flea markets who have VIP access to the “new import”. That is, the first to see what was delivered from remote parts of Europe. These people collect everything that has a more or less loud label, wash, tidy up and sell for moderate money.

    Another category is true vintage seekers. They themselves travel to Europe and visit all the “greedy” flea markets. They establish contacts with local retailers, receive photos of new products, and choose what to send them to Ukraine. Such things are more expensive, but their exclusivity is much higher.

    I will share my own experience. Although I often order interesting vintage things, I consider some of my purchases to be real luck.

    For example, in one of the groups, I found a classic model of a summer jacket from Giorgio Armani, which is reissued every year. Its price turned out to be only UAH 350 ($12.78 – Ecolfe).

    The seller immediately warned that the item needed dry cleaning and dropped a photo of several stains that may not disappear (after washing). (But they) disappeared, and as a result, I got a beautiful jacket that will never go out of fashion and is the benchmark of good taste. I paid only UAH 1,050 ($38.34) for it, including dry cleaning. By the way, its price on retail sites starts at $1100.

    About the same story happened with the purchase of a coat from Burberry. I saw his photo with the inscription “marriage” in one of the groups and decided to find out how scary everything is.

    The coat turned out to be a real vintage from the 70s. I was sent a photo of several places eaten by moths and the price is UAH 400 ($14.61). In fact, I did not even think about it and decided that in a cashmere coat with small holes you can go into the woods (although I usually do not go there).

    After dry cleaning and the work of the studio, where these holes were removed almost completely, I got a wonderful branded coat for 1.4 thousand UAH ($51.12, the price of a similar item starts at $2.4 thousand)

    Of course, this is rather an exception, and I have more expensive purchases in these vintage groups, such as a Balmain jacket for 1.8 thousand UAH ($65.73) or a Versace shirt for 700 UAH ($25.56), but the essence remains the same: there you can find quality luxury items at a price of low-quality mass market.

    The spirit of entrepreneurship

    Demand for vintage items has generated and business stories too. A branded second-hands (appeared). One of the most famous (marketplaces) was opened in 2009. One of Microsoft’s employees – Sebastian Fabre – created for his wife a site, through which she sold her own branded bags and wardrobe items that bored her.

    In time, Mrs. Fabre was joined by her friends, then by the same shopaholics as herself. And today the Vestiaire Collective platform which is, actually, a startup for the sale of used branded clothing and accessories, experts estimate at about € 100 million. It’s been promoted by the world’s most famous fashion magazines like Vogue, Glamor, GO and others.

    More and more authoritative publications and opinion leaders are promoting the principles of “resale” and “reused”, emphasizing that it is not only (eco)-responsible, but also fashionable. In addition, it is a great opportunity to wear quality designer clothes, spending on it sometimes less than on clothes from the mass market.

     In the end, each of us decides for himself whether to be a follower of the Marquise de Pompadour and dive headfirst into consumerist pleasures, or to lead a rather ascetic life, thinking about those who will remain after us.

    I just wanted to tell you that by buying things that used to be a little disgustingly called second-hand, we are taking a small step to make our air, oceans and land cleaner. Today we can influence it, but whether we can do it tomorrow is unknown.

    Do you like this stylist’ advices? You’ve got to know more! Have a look at the environmental trends 2021: what you ought to know to save the planet.

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