On the online vintage store Bodements, it takes less than 20 minutes for a shirt to sell after it is put up, signaling the steady rise of “old fashion”.
This was not always the case, however. When fashion designer Divya Saini launched the store two years ago, vintage shopping in India was unheard of for the most part. Making sales was tough but Saini didn’t give up. She had recognized the gap in the market after returning from a trip to Paris, with bags full of clothes designed between the 1960s and 1990s, and wanted to carve out a niche in the fashion market in India. “Well, times have changed now; people are more aware. A major explosion occurred during the pandemic,” she insists.
It is indeed true. Between 2018 and 2021, the luxury second-hand market grew 9% faster than the overall luxury goods market, according to a report by Tagwalk, a fashion search engine. As the global conversation about waste and sustainability in the fashion industry has intensified over the past year, vintage shopping has emerged as a responsible alternative.
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Corsets, poof shoulders and lace blouses started popping up on the streets, on social media and on the catwalks. In the Spring/Summer 2021 collections, disco, balloon sleeves and romance emerged as the hottest trends, highlighted by Christian Dior and Valentino. Retro styles continue to influence fall/winter collections, with pastel colors and flowing dresses.
Los Angeles designer Vidur Adlakha sifted through clothing shelves at vintage fairs, looking for inspiration for his brand La Fuori’s new collection. Drawing inspiration from Victorian silhouettes, it features ruffled dresses and exaggerated sleeves. He believes Victorian designs can be a breath of fresh air, especially in times of upheaval. Also in the 1970s, where most of today’s vintage clothing is inspired, a wave of rural Victorian and Edwardian nostalgia had swept across America during the Vietnam War. “These trends became popular because women wanted to be lighter, more feminine, flirty and free. Sometimes a little romantic drama can bring a lot of joy and ease into your life,” he says.
A similar romanticism permeates Gauri and Nainika’s latest collection. Known for their signature floral work and ruffles, the designer duo have always admired 19th century European fashion.
From the latest collection of Gauri and Nainika
(Courtesy of Gauri and Nainika)
“It’s so inspiring because there are so many details in the clothes. You’ll always find something new that you can make your own interpretation of,” says designer Nainika Karan. Since the pandemic, she has seen an increase in demand for bulky calves. -length dresses. “They provide the drama of evening wear without making you look overdressed for small gatherings,” she explains. When the designers showed their collection at Lakme Fashion Week in March, it took audiences on a roll. Bridgerton fashion tour.
The series indeed played a role in further fueling the demand for 19th century inspired fashion. After its release in India in December, designer Pallavi Singhee’s Verb brand saw an increase of around 30% in sales. Her buyers demanded long sleeves, low square necklines and empire lines. “One of our biggest retailers in the United States contacted us saying it was the trend of the season and we had to pick it up again next month. We could feel the pulse,” she says.
A Verb piece by designer Pallavi Singhee
In March, data shows that Google searches for “corset” increased more than at any other time in the past five years. While the original corsets tightened the female body, their modern interpretation liberates it. “They make you feel sexy and confident,” says Preeti Yadav, 24, who started Panda Picked, a thrift store on Instagram that sells corsets and bustiers. In one year, she has amassed 37,400 subscribers and the last of her corsets are sold out. “People are crazy about second-hand clothes. It’s a competition now,” she said.
Part of the charm of vintage clothes, Saini says, is that they have so much more to offer than mass-produced ones. “It gives you the opportunity to explore your own individuality and express it. Each piece is unique and cannot be copied. You don’t see someone else wearing the same thing as you,” she says. Even if the aesthetics of vintage culture cast a shadow over its essence, she is certain that even a small part of the population has reflected on its consumption habits and realized: “There are already so many clothes that exist in the world. Why do we need to buy new?”