The Enduring Appeal of Vintage…
Finding that stunning, one-off vintage item remains the luxury Holy Grail for many. Donna McCulloch chats with James Loftus of Open for Vintage on the continuing fascination and desire for vintage pieces
Each season we can see nods to the past on the runway from the big design houses… do you think this explains the enduring appeal of vintage?
I certainly think this is one of the main reasons. The bigger fashion houses constantly reflect on their previous collections and back to the times their iconic founders were at the pinnacle of their cutting-edge designs. This nod to the past is not surprising when you consider the individuals they are paying tribute to – Coco Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior and Gianni Versace to name but a few. True pioneers of the fashion industry. We saw a number of items from our YSL collection on this seasons catwalk, just slightly modernised.
Describe your average customer.
When it comes to vintage there is no such thing as an average customer. We have a very good understanding of our clientele and they range from young women looking for their first piece of Chanel to older customers looking for a one off antique piece to set off an outfit. The appeal of vintage crosses both age groups and sexes. It can be worn from head to toe or as a one-off statement to complete a look. The beauty of it is that there is only one of each item, so it’s therefore very special and very individual.
My favourite era is the 1970s… which is yours?
Personally, I love the 1980s. As a child of the 1980s I can’t help but adore the outrageous cuts, colours and styles that cannot be mistaken for any other era. Although it was also packed with some serious fashion faux pas; it is unmistakable in its uniqueness and lunacy!
What’s the most popular era for your customers currently?
The 1990s are having a real resurgence at the moment. Corsets, mesh tops, tinted sunglasses and denim are some of most searched for pieces on the site. 1950s dresses are also incredibly popular – especially over the summer when wedding season is in full swing as the style is so flattering and nobody wants to turn up in the same outfit as someone else. We also have a beautiful selection of bridal gowns from every era, including a stunning 1980s Chanel Silk Gown which is under £1,600. In general though, handbags, watches and dresses are our most searched items.
What is the one vintage piece every person should own?
This is an easy one. For women, it must be a classic flap, black, Chanel caviar bag. It is the most iconic bag ever made by the most iconic brand. If you are really looking for a special piece you could also consider a 2.55 Reissue or a Boy bag which are not only stunning but fantastic investment pieces.
When it comes to men, the vintage piece every man should own is a Rolex. Rolex have so many iconic models, but for me the original – and most recognisable – is the Day Date. For a true vintage feel it must be two-tone with gold and stainless steel and of course the fluted bezel. A timeless classic that can be handed down for generations.
With fast fashion becoming less and less desirable in terms of the environment, do you feel vintage is a good alternative?
I think it’s an excellent alternative. People who buy vintage are buying quality. They are buying from eras when most pieces were handmade from the finest quality materials available. These pieces are timeless and can be kept and worn for decades. Not only is vintage a far more sustainable option, it’s a far more individual option. If you buy vintage you won’t be caught on the red carpet in the same outfit as someone else.
What’s your advice to someone who dislikes or has not invested in the vintage concept?
My advice would simply be to try it. Dip your toe in the water and go to some of the high street vintages stores and see what you find. I guarantee there will be at least one piece that stands out. Once you’re comfortable with buying smaller items, I have no doubt you will start looking to marketplaces like Open for Vintage for your first luxury vintage purchase.
Do you offer a repair service for vintage pieces?
Currently this is not something we offer. The boutiques who sell through Open for Vintage are not only vintage experts but also skilled restorers of all things vintage. Most of the pieces we sell are in exceptional condition or have already been restored so there is no need for a repair service.
Do you loan pieces to publications/stylists for shoots?
We have worked with international stylists who dress the likes of Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, Hailey Baldwin, Daisy Lowe and many others. The site has been quite the hit with celebrity stylists as they are looking for truly unique looks that cannot be instantly replicated. Kim Kardashian has since bought a number of items from the site.
Do you offer a hire service for those who want to dip their toe into the vintage sphere?
As there is only one of each piece and they are all very special items we do not offer a hire service. As I mentioned before, if you are looking to try vintage, start at the high street and once you’re comfortable then start looking at more luxury options such as ourselves. Should you buy a piece that does not fit or that you’re not happy with, we offer 14 day returns for peace of mind – so there is no excuse not to treat yourself.