The rise of vintage
The best advertising campaigns make you want to be the woman on the billboard. In 2013, I wanted to be Daria Werbowy in a pink roll-top bathroom, naked except for a rhinestone-encrusted necklace and bracelets, in Céline's spring campaign.
I've been dreaming about that glittering choker, in particular, for months, even though it was wildly unaffordable – up to £2,000 – on my fashion journalist's salary. Years later, when its creator Phoebe Philo announced she would leave the brand in 2017, I thought about the necklace again. Curious to see if I could track one down, I hit Google. Fifteen minutes later, I had unearthed a German seller on the French resale site Vestiaire Collective, who was willing to part with theirs for £481.37, complete with dustbag and original box. Reader, I bought it. And then I bragged about it. “It's spring/summer 2013,” I told admirers who asked about the necklace's origin at a party. Vogue .
It was a time when last season's signature items were put at the back of the closet or donated to willing recipients after their moment in the spotlight. Now, pre-loved, pre-worn, pre-owned, saved and resale clothes and accessories couldn't be more desirable. “Vintage” is the term that covers all the bases, even if it makes nitpickers cringe: technically, it should only be applied to clothes made between the last 20 and 99 years. In any case, the second-hand market today has clearly evolved from the two categories that “vintage” denoted: an acid-free, fabric-wrapped couture dress purchased at an auction house, on the one hand, or a mothballed-dress scented petticoat unearthed at a flea market stall on the other.
For one thing, the pre-loved items that today's savvy shoppers are looking for are often not that old. And the hunt takes place not in cavernous warehouses or auction houses, but online. Today's well-dressed fashion fans score gently used Alaïa dresses on TheRealReal , Bottega Veneta Cassette bags worn once on Vestiaire Collective , vintage Chanel bouclé jackets on Hewi and second-hand Hermès Birkins on Collector Square . They scored sold-out BNWT (“bought new with tags,” the Internet speak) Zara leggings on Depop and second-hand Jean Paul Gaultier Cyber Dots mesh T-shirts on eBay. They go from StockX for Dior Air Jordan like new and from Chrono24 for the Cartier Tanks experienced, taking a short detour to Dotte for Mini Rodini's waste for their children.