The latest fashion trends are not new at all

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The latest fashion trends aren’t new at all.

Utahans are buying second-hand clothes from bygone eras in greater numbers in order to be environmentally sustainable, financially sensible and stand out in the age of big-box fashion, the Deseret News reported.

“It’s cheaper, it’s higher quality and it’s much more unique. No one is going to wear that dress to the concert you’re going to,” said Jacqueline Whitmore, owner of Copperhive Vintage, twirling a 1960s floral print maxi dress. “This dress is 60 years old and it still looks amazing. people are beginning to understand.


Whitmore, whose Copperhive caters to a mid-century aesthetic with bold floral prints and fit-and-flare dresses, is among a growing cohort of vintage retailers that have helped make Beehive State a destination for thrift.

In recent years, second-hand has become a priority for more shoppers, who have turned to vintage retailers when supply chain issues and economic uncertainty from the COVID-19 pandemic have made buying new less appealing. Now retailers think new customers are here to stay.

“I saw a lot more new customers. When they couldn’t find what they wanted from Nordstrom, or what they ordered took too long to arrive, they come here for a wedding outfit or a special party outfit, and even shoppers younger looking for prom outfits,” said Whitmore, who found her way to vintage as a plus-size person looking for fashion that fit.

Despite pandemic bargains, vintage has been on the rise for nearly a decade, thanks in large part to a new generation of environmentally conscious shoppers who say buying second-hand — called “upcycling” — is a essential tool in the fight against climate change, and the most immediate way to defeat a dubious fast fashion industry.

“I feel better in my soul wearing something that’s not so disruptive to the environment. Buying used is a drop in the bucket, but it’s something I have control over,” said Taylor Litwin, stewardship director for the Cottonwood Canyons Foundation, which is trying to buy exclusively second-hand. “Obviously we are creating a lot of pollution, so if I can reduce it somehow I will try.”

According to research cited in outlets like Bloomberg Business and the Columbia Climate School, today’s fashion industry “is responsible for 10% of man-made greenhouse gas emissions and 20% of wastewater world, and uses more energy than the aviation and maritime transport sectors combined”. .”

“It’s amazing how much water it takes to make a pair of jeans. Then there are the emissions related to the transportation of textiles around the world. That’s why a lot of our young customers are pushing for sustainability,” said Copperhive owner Whitmore.

Popular new platforms such as Display Copy are springing up to promote vintage as a way to “protect and express yourself without causing further harm to our planet”.

And now, even established fashion brands are starting to join the recycling bandwagon, including Levis Secondhand, the denim giant’s new program that buys back used clothes for reuse and resale.

Although commitments such as the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action indicate a willingness among big players to reform in the future, many consumers are trying to mitigate the impacts by looking to the past – and they find work in Utah.

In a renovated historic bungalow at 1100 East in Sugar House, a thrift store called Rewind specializes in 1990s and Y2K-era fashion — with items like Carhartt chore coats and comfy, broken-in flannels — that sell to a mostly millennial clientele who may or may not have been around when the styles debuted.

The late 20th century is currently the dominant fashion in Utah’s second-hand clothing market, and it’s a trend that Rewind owner Edgar Gerardo saw before the curve.

Gerardo, who emigrated to Los Angeles with his family as a child, said he developed an eye for vintage trends out of necessity. As a Mexican immigrant in Los Angeles, sourcing and selling used items was one of the few money-making opportunities available, he said.

“No one would hire you if you were an immigrant to LA in the 90s. It was the only thing our family could do, buy and sell at flea markets. Gradually we learned what’s popular, what sells. It’s a normal immigrant story,” he said.

When the economy crashed in 2008, he moved with his family to Utah, where he originally planned to earn a living “doing regular jobs”. But then he discovered an untapped treasure trove of savings.

“I didn’t know this place was full of vintage. And no one was choosing it, so I went back to what I knew: choosing vintage clothes and anything that made me money,” Gerardo said.

At first, he was part of a small group that collected for resale. But that changed around 2015 when demand for vintage skyrocketed.

“At first it was me and maybe three other guys. Now you go to a Deseret Industries or a Savers or any of the thrift stores in town, and it’s full of kids trying to choose clothes to resell. It drove up prices everywhere,” he said.

Gerardo says that the current upcycled clothing scene began in the Japanese and British subcultures, which began to gain notice in the states around 2015. Subsequently, vintage found the endorsement of famous influencers and the trend took off across the country.

An example of influencer impact is seen in the market for band shirts, which began appearing on high-profile social media accounts around 2015. A celebrity seal of approval amplified demand for wearable merchandise from musical groups like 1980s metal band Metallica, whose Gerardo T-shirts have seen sell for up to $500.

“You imagine things like that aren’t worth much, but a celebrity or influencer wears it and the cost skyrockets,” he said.

For this reason, Gerardo is suspicious of those who say they use their purchases for environmental reasons, as he believes the phenomenon is primarily about basic consumer trends.

Recent years have seen a crash of vintage-inspired social media accounts. Still, those in Utah’s secondhand scene say this new generation of influencers is part of an ecosystem that operates through different principals, which emphasizes community while simultaneously celebrating individual expression.

Hannah Ruth Zander is an up-and-coming Utah-based influencer who promotes the vintage industry through her popular Instagram account, where she curates unique outfits from styles from different eras.

“I describe it as 1960s fashion meets modernity, with a touch of 18th century fashion. It’s super old, then a bit newer, and then super new. I love the collaboration of these different eras,” she said.

Zander says influencers are playing an important role in encouraging a return to individual expression that has flattened out in the stressful pandemic.

“During the pandemic, people were really wearing sportswear. Since it’s almost done, I think most people don’t even want to look at another pair of sweatpants,” says Zander. “Now that people can finally hang out with their friends and wear cute outfits, vintage is a great way to show off their personality.”

Zander says vintage has become especially relevant alongside the wider embrace of maximalism in the fashion world, an exuberant aesthetic characterized by contrasting patterns and bold colors, and a swinging pendulum over understated ways of dress during closings.

“With maximalism, the more layers the better, the more colors the better, the more parts you mix and the crazier the better. Which vintage is great for because you can mix and match so many different pieces from different eras and it can still be trendy and consistent,” Zander said. “It allows people to express themselves again, and I think that’s really cool.”

Beyond promoting individual empowerment, Zander, who works as a stylist for small businesses and independent retailers, sees her influential role as a crucial part of the second-hand Commonwealth.

She describes the vintage community as a mutually supportive ecosystem, where gamers “sponsor” each other by exchanging services and sharing products for events and other purposes.

“A lot of vintage shops in Utah share each other’s posts and help each other promote, even though they’re technically rivals in the retail world. They’ll even do bargains together,” Zander said.

“Big companies are so focused on fighting each other and doing whatever they can to eliminate their rivals,” she said. “But in the vintage community, people go hand in hand. It’s quite wonderful.

Hand-in-hand dynamics are seen elsewhere in the vintage market in a “buy-sell-trade” model favored by some retailers.

At Pibs Exchange, a second-hand retailer that carries just about every style from the past half-century, shoppers can exchange clothes for cash or store credit.

“I love swapping my clothes and finding something new. That’s my MO,” said Miranda Lewin, who has been shopping second-hand for eight years and prefers swapping to buying. “I like it because I get such interesting pieces, and then I adapt them to the aesthetic that I’m looking for at that moment.”

The famous durability of older clothes keeps them spinning at places like Pibs. But it’s also tied to the culture of thrifty people, who buy items knowing they may not be their last owners.

Lewin, who is a performing musician with Utah-based band the Mskings, likes to drop by Pibs before shows in search of stage-ready outfits.

“Fashion is a big part of how we express ourselves and a big part of the impressions we make, especially when it comes to first interactions,” said Lewin, who as a musical performer learned appreciate the power of first impressions. “And if I find that I haven’t worn something in a few months or a year, I don’t need to cling to it. Then I try to put it back into circulation.

But more than a unique look, Lewin and others say vintage clothing and the recirculation route also speak to intangible value.

“You’re looking at a jacket right there, and it’s literally from someone’s grandma’s closet. It could be 50,” Lewin said, alluding to a suede number with a gigantic sheepskin collar. “This stuff has its own story and its own character. And when you take something like that, it becomes part of your character while you add even more to it. You can take something that’s old and make it entirely new. .

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