In recent years, it has appeared that vintage clothing has become more popular than ever – even St Andrews hosts an annual pop-up shopping fair. And for good reason: Buying second hand garments is a far more sustainable alternative to giving into the high street’s frivolous obsession with fast fashion, and is also an opportunity to discover some truly individual and interesting items that you wouldn’t find anywhere else to add to your new semester wardrobe.
As the obsession with vintage clothing has become a mainstream trend in itself, the definition of what qualifies as “true vintage” has blurred. Urban Outfitters has its own line of ‘Urban Renewal’, ASOS offers its ‘Reclaimed Vintage’ section, and the Topshop in Edinburgh has a rack of faded Levis and plaid shirts sourced from the local vintage emporium W. Armstrong & Son. Many of these items are overpriced and are merely rebranded ‘retro’ warehouse stock as opposed to genuine vintage garments. Although the popularity of vintage has risen, the quality has diminished and prices have swollen, proposing an important question: how do you shop wisely?
Although St Andrews isn’t quite Brick Lane, there are still a number of opportunities to shop vintage in the Bubble. While independent vintage shops lack, charity shops are an abundance- where if you’re lucky, a bit of digging can lead you to a hidden gem or a bargain. Consider venturing out to other nearby towns such as Cupar, Dundee, and Kirkcaldy, which have a greater and often more interesting variety of stock on offer. St Andrew’s own Thrift Society are running a Thrift Crawl this Sunday 24 September, where like-minded shoppers can hunt the charity shops before checking out St Andrews’ Affordable Vintage Fair at the Union. Checking for authentic labels and having an idea of the cuts and fabrics of different fashion eras is essential to make sure that a piece is genuine and that you are getting your money’s worth. Be sure to feel the quality of material, inspect for stains and breakages, and most importantly, try on the item before buying it.
While vintage shopping in person can often seem overwhelming and requires some degree of patience, rummaging, and often bartering, online shopping can be a better option if you are looking for a specific piece. Looking online at eBay, Etsy, ASOS marketplace, and even instagram boutiques is a good place to start. Although tailoring clothes to fit is always an option, be sure to know your exact measurements when ordering and remember that generic sizes from previous decades are usually cut smaller than the present day.
Luckily for us, vintage fashion continues to be very much in vogue, which means that the shopping opportunities are endless. Perhaps the easiest (and cheapest) place to start, however, is your grandparents or parents wardrobes- you never know what they may have stowed away from their nights out in the 70’s.