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The expert’s guide to shopping vintage fashion

It’s not hard to see why vintage designer clothing has seen a steep rise in popularity in recent years. Not only does it help alleviate the fashion industry’s environmental impact by extending the life of clothes, but opting to shop pre-loved pieces — whether it’s Versace’s iconic archive prints, Dior’s now-cult saddle bag or Chanel’s signature two-piece skirt suits — also means your clothes come with an interesting backstory. On FARFETCH, our global network of vintage boutiques expertly curate an unrivaled edit of pre-loved pieces from Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton and Hermès, to name a few. But what exactly is vintage fashion, which investment styles should you look out for, and where is the best place to buy these pieces? 


When it comes to sustainable and pre-loved fashion, former creative director of British Vogue, Jaime Perlman, is an expert. She founded More or Less — a biannual publication and digital platform that promotes responsible fashion consumption — in 2018 and has since focused her fashion expertise on making the industry and its consumers more conscious about their choices. ‘Everything in fashion, to me, was becoming so excessive and fast-paced,’ she explains of launching the platform. ‘I wanted to create a space to show vintage style and brands that were prioritizing sustainability.’ As More or Less edits our pre-loved offering seen in these images, Perlman shares her top tips on vintage shopping, including how to find the best vintage designer clothing and the investment styles that will last you a lifetime.

 

Photography by Laura Jane Coulson

Styling by Nell Kalonji

What is vintage clothing?

 

Vintage fashion, in its broadest sense, is a piece from a past collection – although it’s more specifically and often classified as anything over 20 years old. At FARFETCH, our Pre-Owned category – found in the navigation and highlighted in the brand name of qualifying products – is a considered edit of true vintage designer clothing and rare finds from more recent archive collections. Vintage styles have often also been worn previously, with only the most well-maintained pre-worn pieces making it into the FARFETCH offering. ‘I personally shop vintage a lot,’ says Perlman on her approach to shopping luxury fashion more consciously. ‘It’s something I’ve always enjoyed doing – even before I gave much thought to it being more eco-conscious [than buying new pieces]. I love the thrill of the hunt and finding something that no one else has.’

 

Jaime Perlman's vintage picks: ‘This Comme des Garçons polka-dot party dress is the perfect combo of sexy and kooky. Pair this rare vintage find with silver slides by Kwaidan Editions and a vegan-leather bag by Nanushka for your party of six gathering this season.’

Vintage and sustainability

 

While choosing to shop pre-loved pieces is a great way to introduce some of fashion’s most iconic details into your wardrobe, it’s a more responsible way to shop too. Opting to invest in vintage clothes prolongs the life of pre-existing pieces and reduces the demand for new clothes and collections to be made. ‘We need to remember the power of consumer choice,’ says Perlman. ‘If we take it upon ourselves to choose products that are produced more sustainably, the brands will respond to our needs,’ she adds. ‘As shoppers, we should also make a conscious choice to consume less, and invest in pieces that we will keep for many years. I’ll purchase something when I really need it, with the intent to invest in a piece for a long time, rather than impulse-buy behavior. Mend and repair is another important part of sustainability — be sure to fix your clothes if they tear or come apart; don’t just throw them away.’

 

Jaime Perlman's vintage picks: ‘FARFETCH is a gold mine of Chanel pre-loved pieces, like this lipstick sweatshirt and these knee-high boots. I’d pair them with this recycled denim mini skirt by Acne Studios to keep it a little more rock’n’roll.’

How to buy vintage clothes and accessories


It’s always harder to shop online,’ says Perlman, ‘as you really need to try items on to see how they will fit.’ Luckily, the fashion editor has some expert advice when it comes to making great vintage purchases online. Her approach to finding pieces that promise the most wear? ‘Only buy it if you really need it. And make sure, to your best ability, that the piece will actually fit you — it’s important to read the information in the description to see how the measurements will stack up to your own figure. Also, I’d recommend having a trusty tailor on hand to make any alterations you may need to make. Buying slightly too big is better, as you can always have it taken in.’ On how to care for and prolong the life of vintage pieces, storing them correctly is essential, says Perlman: ‘I generally keep everything covered up in my closet in a garment bag, as vintage fabrics tend to deteriorate. If the shoes I’ve purchased come in a box, I tend to keep them in it.’

 


Jaime Perlman's vintage picks: ‘There’s no better investment than Alaïa and this pre-worn little black dress is nothing short of iconic. I’m channeling the 1990s with this full vintage look, my favorite decade of all time.’

Best vintage investment pieces

 

For Perlman, buying vintage means investing in the kind of timeless pieces that are set to be relevant in another 20 years. And when it comes to FARFETCH’s expertly curated edit of pre-loved fashion, she has a few standout styles. ‘The Chanel quilted bag is a true investment piece because it never goes out of season – I particularly love this 1990s twist on the classic, an iconic era for Chanel. And [couturier Azzedine] Alaïa was so special in that he was always designing seasonless, timeless pieces: a flattering Alaïa dress is a true evening investment, which you can wear year after year. I will also never get sick of leather biker jackets: they’re just the right amount of tough and can be added to any outfit.’

 

Jaime Perlman's vintage picks: ‘Prada is taking strides to design with a more conscious future in mind. This midi dress is made from 50% recycled polyester and is just the start of what the brand has planned. I also love this leather jacket from A.N.G.E.L.O Vintage.’

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