Sustainable & Attractive: Vintage Fashion

When garments from the past regain importance

When I was a really young girl, one of my favourite hobbies was to go through my mother’s and grandmother’s wardrobe and find the oldest pieces of clothing and accessories. I would try them on, even if they didn’t really fit me. I remember doing this because I loved fashion from other decades and to have a “journey” there through the objects.

Vintage is defined by the Cambridge dictionary as “something of high quality and lasting value, or showing the best and most typical characteristics of a particular type of thing, especially from the past”. Antique garments gain value and are reused precisely because of their origin. Furthermore, there are many labels that create collections by recreating pieces based on a previous aesthetic, as a “retro” trend. As everyone knows, fashion works in cycles when searching for inspiration.  

Diving on the reasons

Over the past few years, vintage fashion has been drawing some attention. There are many motives behind the revival of both old and used articles when completing your modern outfit, or even constructing a complete personal image.

Firstly, it could attract people for the mere reason that these are “treasures” from another time. Clothing and accessories that belonged, were designed and manufactured in another epoch may entail some melancholic feeling. To put it another way, these items are something that have history.

Besides, it is often alleged that “past times were better”, and this thought amongst fashion lovers can be easily translated into thinking that vintage looks are more romantic and elegant. And not only these objects were particularly well elaborated and have high quality, but they already demonstrated that they have stood the test of time. Not to mention the fact that this devotion focuses in the recovery and preservation of pieces: old articles are limited in quantity and not always in pristine condition.

Secondly, this alternative to consumerism has a sustainable and conscious angle. Indeed, vintage fashion is entirely opposed to purchasing the latest “must-have” clothes and feeding the frenzied drive for newest trends. Actually, followers of vintage are giving a second useful life to an article that has been thrown away or has fallen into disuse. In other words, it can be seen as a glamorous way of recycling.

Thirdly, amidst the economic crisis, there is a boom of vintage labels and second-hand fairs in Buenos Aires. If you are not after first-class brands, the type of products offered have token prices compared to what you may find in display windows on the commercial circuit. Taking everything into account, vintage fashion has charm, quality and shows both sustainability and affordability.

Discovering past worlds

There are many places to visit in Buenos Aires City if you’re in search for vintage treasures. One of the most popular circuits is located in the bohemian neighbourhood of San Telmo. There are a huge number of fairs, markets and shops, all of them full of antiques of all sorts, not just clothing and accessories. In addition to this, a stroll down San Telmo’s streets on weekends is highly recommended to tourists.

In the same nostalgic neighbourhood, El almacén de Lulú (Lulú’s storehouse, in English) keeps a careful selection of clothing and accessories that date from the early 1900s to 1990. An appointment is required to enter a wonderful space where well-known brands are next to garments with no labels at all. And there is even a section for bridal dresses from all decades.

“Moda fuera de moda” (“Fashion out of fashion”) is the slogan of La Percalina, a shop in the zone of the city which is called Abasto. Alejandra Agüero and Virginia Del Giudice clean, restore and sell “clothes that once had an owner”. They pay special attention to small details. Here, you will find custom-made garments, hats, gloves, scarves and other accessories.

Juan Pérez is one of the pioneers and most renowned of the sector, being founded in 1998 by Paulette Selby. It is set in a vast space within the wealthy quarter of Recoleta, where you can also sell your old clothes. What is more, famous local people are part of the clientele and sell their own belongings. As a result of all of this, the store has an enormous variety of articles: modern or antique, national or international brands, rarities and collectibles for all sizes, ages and trends.

Nearby, in Retiro neighbourhood, Casa Del Teatro (Theatre home) is a home for retired actors in economical need of a residence. It was founded in 1938 by Regina Pacini, a soprano singer who was married to President Marcelo Torcuato de Alvear. The building houses a theatre, a library and two museums. Moreover, there is a boutique on the ground floor, which was recently reformed and that represents a source of income to the shelter. Famous national actors and actresses usually donate their garments and objects to collaborate. The place is also known for its warm attention to clients and the originality of its accessories.

All things considered, there are many options to take a step back from the accelerated times of fashion and walk down the past to both have fun and discover new-old pieces that would make excellent additions to the wardrobe. It is green, cheap, original and enjoyable. What’s not to like?