Vintage Clothing and the Designer Dilemma

As in love as I am with fashion, as much as I love the idea of art (and craft) that you not only touch but wear, as much as I believe in fashion as an accessible and everyday art, I recognize the exclusivity of (“high,” inventive, well-tailored, etc.) fashion.

And I hate it.

Lanvin Spring 2010 pant suit modeled by Hanne Gaby Odiele

I pour over the runway pics on style.com as every season comes and goes through the Big Four but I can only dream of purchasing any of the pieces I drool over. At least in season. Barneys (and Saks and Bergdorf Goodman et al.) are velvet ropes I cannot cross. Most of us cannot. I can’t spend $3,000 on a dress. I cannot spend $80 on a t-shirt. I doubt I’ll ever be able to. Most of us never will.

Yves Saint Laurent Fall 2009 high-waisted pant modeled by Tao Okamoto

That said, I do not see an easy solution. Looking closely at the clothing industry, it becomes clear why price points are so high. The level of dedication, the number of talented hands through which these pieces pass before they are finished, the quality that exists from the materials sourced through all levels of craftsmanship, all conspire to distance those of us who appreciate high fashion most from ever owning any of part of it. Though I have been known to buy the knockoffs that Forever 21, Topshop, and others churn out (often, now, before the designers themselves can get the pieces to the market), I do so guiltily, knowing the environmental and human cost of fast fashion.

Forever 21 Modern Woven Trouser

Forever 21 Modern Woven Trouser, $22.80

My own solution is to shop retail only very rarely. I am a vintage and used-clothing girl, all the way. 90% of my wardrobe comes from Crossroads, Goodwill, and other vintage stores. So one of the things that I wish to show with this blog is the versatility of shopping used. Not only is wearing vintage an incredibly green practice–recycle, reduce, reuse–but it fuels, I think, a lot more creativity than buying new. DIY fashion and “repurposed” clothing rely intimately on vintage. And–trust!–there’s nothing more exciting than finding slightly damaged Alexander McQueen for $30.

Vintage YSL pants, $130 at the GoddessVintage store on etsy.com

Consider this the first in many posts on vintage, a starting point for one on-going discussion. Look forward to posts on tips for shopping vintage, a run-down of the best online vintage purveyors, street style focuses, and a look into my own vintage collection.

For anyone who may be in shop-happy mood, the above F21 pants can be purchased here are SOLD OUT, the vintage YSL slacks can be purchased here, and similar Yves Saint Laurent trousers can be purchased via NeimanMarcus.com for $690.

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