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Image / Style / Fashion / Shopping / Sustainable Style

‘We are in a new era of consumption’: Vestiaire Collective’s Sophie Hersan weighs in on the rise of vintage during Covid-19


by Erin Lindsay
29th Aug 2020
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Have our shopping habits irrevocably changed since the pandemic hit? Fashion director and co-founder of second-hand selling platform Vestiaire Collective Sophie Hersan weighs in on vintage shopping with nowhere to go


Investing in our personal style when we have to stay indoors is a funny concept. It calls into question the real meaning of dressing up – is it truly for ourselves, as we’ve always believed, or do we dress inherently for other people? For the great outdoors? And when we can only dress for ourselves, where does that leave us in the consumer-driven, fast fashion machine?

Perhaps it leaves us in a different place entirely. Constantly searching out new, disposable pieces on Instagram, to wear once on a night out and forget about, seems like a thing of the past. If the future is uncertain, if we can’t be sure where our next occasion will be, then investing in pieces that will last through the uncertainty seems like the right idea. And what seems more certain to last, than clothing that has already lasted generations?

Vintage and second-hand shopping has been steadily gathering steam for the last number of years, as sustainability in all its forms becomes the new fashion trend. We’re more conscious than ever of the effect our consumption has on the planet, and have been making strides in reducing it in all areas of our lives.

Fast fashion can be a difficult beast to break free from – the social media-driven urge to be seen in every trend in every season means our bank balances, our bulging wardrobes and the planet is bearing the brunt. Switching your mindset to investing in long-term fashion, and being content with the pieces you have, can’t be made overnight – it takes a long time to make real changes to your consumer behaviour. For many, the chance to rethink their consumer habits has come in the form of a pandemic (fashion lovers are nothing if not dramatic). Four months spent indoors, reflecting on what this new normal means for every area of our lives, has given us the chance to rethink what it means to truly love your clothes.

Second-hand platforms, especially for luxury goods, can be a stepping stone. Vestiaire Collective is perhaps the best-known, pre-loved designer goods platform, giving savvy shoppers the chance to score vintage Chanel, Dior and Chloé for a great price. Their latest campaign Vintage is the New New, ‘celebrates the importance and relevance of vintage fashion today’.

As part of the campaign, the site has curated edits for key decades from the 70s to the 00s, taking hero pieces from Vestiaire Collective’s archive. IMAGE sat down with fashion director and co-founder Sophie Hersan for her take on the rise of vintage during Covid-19, and her hero pieces from the new edit.

Have you seen an increase in shoppers seeking out vintage and second-hand pieces since the beginning of the pandemic?

The Covid-19 global crisis has driven more and more consumers to conscious consumption, we’ve seen the rise of sustainability and the impact of the crisis challenge society at large to reconsider its values and behaviour. It has influenced us to rethink the way we use our wardrobes and redefine the way we consume fashion. So far in 2020 we’ve seen an increase in demand for vintage from our community, it’s proven to be one of our fastest-growing categories, experiencing +140% growth YoY.

Why do you think we are seeing such a turn towards vintage as opposed to the constancy of the fast fashion machine?

Sustainability is extremely important for consumers today and vintage offers the most eco-friendly solution to purchasing current trends. Vintage pieces are the most sustainable to shop, with the craftsmanship behind the pieces ensuring they stand the test of time. Many brands are also returning to their heritage designs for inspiration, for example The Celine Triomphe, Louis Vuitton Pochette Accessoire, Dior Saddle, Gucci Marmont, Gucci Jackie, and Fendi Baguette, have all seen a resurgence in value and become “it” bags again! At Vestiaire Collective, we’ve seen that this significantly impacts sales.

It’s very interesting that Gen Z and teenagers are the ones driving this second-hand, eco-conscious force in fashion right now. Do you think this is a sign of the future of fashion?

Yes there’s no doubt we are in a new era of consumption. Younger generations are a whole new community of consumers and vintage fashion is quickly becoming their go-to option, whilst they look to develop a unique sense of style and access the pieces they desire in a more eco-friendly way. Gen z & millennials are the demographic who are leading the change and driving the acceptance of preloved fashion among consumers. We’ve definitely seen an uprising of the love for vintage items from these younger generations and hope to continue to do so.

For those still firmly in the fast fashion camp, what would be some of the main factors you would raise to them in making the switch towards vintage?

Fast fashion items are not made to last, and more often than not are poor quality. Sustainability is important to the environmentally conscious shopper and vintage is an alternative sustainable solution to shopping for the latest trends, vintage allows you access to high quality pieces at affordable prices.

Buy less, buy better. You can easily purchase a vintage piece from an iconic brand, and with more and more designers reintroducing vintage classics within new season collections, you can access on trend pieces for less in their original vintage form. For example, you can find the original vintage Gucci Jackie on Vestiaire Collective for a very good price, it is undoubtedly a better investment!

Walk me through your favourite picks of this new edit – why have you picked these items?

We wanted to bring together different voices from the vintage world so I selected 4 of my favourite vintage experts to curate their ‘Only on Vestiaire’ edits of the best key pieces that defined the last 4 decades. Top journalist and fashion critic Alexander Fury, vintage stylist Bay Garnett, designer and stylist Sami Miro and fashion director Suzanne Koller, dug into the Vestiaire Collective archive to handpick the best pieces from each decade.

Key hero pieces include a Jean Paul Gaultier corset from 1989, Alaïa studded gloves from 1981, a biker jacket by Maison Martin Margiela, an iconic Prada nylon bag, a 1970’s hippy Céline top and a Dior pink monogrammed matching jacket and skirt.

 

The Vintage Rising Edit is live on Vestiaire Collective now until September 4


Read more: Need clarity of mind? Start with a cathartic Covid wardrobe cleanse

Read more: Tidings: The new Irish accessories brand injecting positivity into your wardrobe

Read more: Does your personal style change when you emigrate? I asked four Irish women for their thoughts

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