I remember clearly when I first noticed the charm of vintage and secondhand fashion.
It was the early 2000s and my younger sister was just out of university, totally rocking a cool secondhand wardrobe. She was often dressed in a Fifties-style printed blouse tucked into high-waisted swing skirt, cropped cardi and cute vintage heels. I loved how she pieced everything together, and I took note.
For the rest of that decade I developed my own hobby (read: obsession) for vintage and secondhand fashion, which then extended to furniture, fabrics and homeware. While high street and fast-fashion was taking off in a big way during the 2000s, I was scouring secondhand shops for granny-chic pleated skirts and 80s t-shirts.
20 years on and I’m still instantly drawn to anything preloved or from another era, and the quirkier the better – both for my wardrobe and home. I still have a soft spot for anything with a bold print from the 50s, 60s, 70s, or 80s and love mixing vintage and secondhand with new staple pieces like denim jeans. My wardrobe is probably an 80-20% mix of preloved to new.
With more awareness now on sustainable fashion and sustainable living, it got me thinking about my connection with this way of dressing and shopping and how naturally low-impact and sustainable it is.
Here are a few reasons why I fell in love with vintage and secondhand, which may inspire you to hunt around for hidden treasures yourself…
✨ Shopping secondhand is fun. Weekends spent riffling through charity shops or going to Portobello Market were some of my best days out. Tip: the best charity shops are always out of town.
✨ Stylish vintage stands the test of time. I still own and wear many of the pieces I bought ten or 15 years ago. I also collected a lot of vintage crockery and these have also proved to last. I don’t know much about pottery brands or their history but I just buy what looks beautiful or interesting.
✨ Secondhand is more interesting. For a long time, I rarely bought anything new as I knew I would find a more unique version from another era. I wasn’t fussy which decade I bought – I’d just scour the rails for an interesting print, fabric or cut.
✨ I love being creative with fabrics and prints. I’m instantly drawn to fabrics, prints and styles from decades gone and feel more creative dressing in these than high street clothes, which I find so homogenous and uninspiring. It also means that no one else would be wearing what I was wearing.
✨ Collecting is fun. Searching for pieces and the surprise of finding pieces is definitely part of the fun. When I moved into my own flat I had to buy very little as I’d already collected so much lovely preloved furniture, furnishings and homeware over the years.
I’d managed to save my friend’s 80s floral sofa – the one that she grew up with – from going to the skip; I took a mid-century writing desk from my sister, bought 50s kitchen utensils from eBay, sourced a super cool 60s orange glass lightshade from Berlin, and endless amounts of vintage tableware found in charity shops. I just can’t imagine ordering something from John Lewis, as half the fun of shopping for me, is in the search.
✨ It’s not just style, it’s ethics too. Choosing to not shop on the high street in my 20s was an ethical choice too. Opting out of fast-fashion was important to me and it just so happened that I found vintage so exciting. I also didn’t want to support an industry that was contributing obscene amounts of pollution, chemicals and waste into our world. There is another way to dress and shop, and that’s to reuse and recycle, as well as buy less and buy better.
✨ Diverting fashion from landfill. Buying preloved is the easiest way to shop sustainably. It keeps the lifecycle of an item going and contributes less waste.
✨ Letting fashion live on. I also love to keep amazing pieces living for as long as possible because once they’re gone they’re gone.
✨ Now I’m thinking quality not quantity. In the last few years I’ve slowed down on purchases. After years of collecting this, that and the other, I now thankfully have enough. I’ve also been trying to simplify my life with less stuff and that means clearing out more and buying even less.
I try to operate a one in one out system – it doesn’t always work – but it’s a step in the right direction to a more minimalist, mindful and even more sustainable way of living.
What are your thoughts on shopping sustainable? I’d love to hear! Comment below or tag me on Instagram @yanarfitness.