It is easily overlooked that what is now called vintage was once brand new.
– Tony Visconti, record producer, musician and singer.
It’s been three months since I found I needed to restock my wardrobe with clothing that actually fits. (What a concept!) Winter looms, and as the mountain air grows cooler, my more curve-friendly 40s/50s inspired wardrobe seems increasingly in need of a good, warm coat. Preferably one that is older than I am.
On the weekend I found just the thing in a charming vintage shop in the mountain village of Hazelbrook, NSW. This beautiful 1950s faux fur swing coat, bought for $145 at Pink Flamingo, is in excellent vintage condition, though I’ll have to resew the label (it’s nice to keep those details if you can) so I don’t lose it. To think that this coat has seen fifty-plus years of wear and is still going strong makes one appreciate just how well clothes were made in the mid 20th century and how much waste (and suffering) is produced by the modern phenomenon known as ‘throwaway fashion culture’. What will vintage shops of 2060 be stocked with, I wonder? How many of the clothes produced now will last the distance? Even the year? When even the Salvation Army laments the drop in the quality of clothing donations, you know there is a problem. Brisbane area manager Ian Harrison told The Australian back in 2008 that, “If it’s not good enough to be worn, we sell it as a seconds product to clothing traders around the world to be utilised as rag or (land)fill.”
As a woman who enjoys style and design, what can I do to avoid adding to the ‘throwaway fashion’ problem?
a) I can buy less, but buy quality where possible, giving preference to local stores and designers over large multi-national chains who specialise in cheap trendy clothes. (You know the ones.) b) I can mend my existing clothes. (I’m terrible at this, but learning.) And c) I can give new life to something that was once brand new by buying vintage.
Faux fur was first introduced in 1929 and became commercially available in the 1950s. This particular ‘Otta Fir’ faux fur coat has many good years left in her. I look forward to giving her a second (3rd? 4th?) life.