The Rise and Rise of Vintage Fashion

The Sydney Morning Herald recently interviewed Sally Hardy, Theodore Bruce Head of Fine Art & Fashion, on the enduring appeal of vintage fashion. While there have always been followers of vintage fashion, a new generation is discovering the merits of buying second hand – from uncovering high quality and one-of-a-kind garments and accessories, to supporting sustainability by joining the recycled fashion movement. With the fast fashion industry one of the world’s biggest polluters, it no wonder that vintage fashion is once more on the rise.

Yohji Yamamoto Pour Homme, Japan: Orange Leather, Brasstone Zip Front 22nd Sweetheart Jacket, Two Flap & Two Slit Pockets, Beige Quilted LiningBuying the Unique & Collectable

Penned by contemporary design specialist, Stephen Crafti, the April Sydney Morning Herald feature focused on the collectability of vintage fashion, with some buyers willing to pay hefty prices for one-off pieces by brands such as Yohji Yamamoto, Comme des Garcons and Junya Watanabe.

These kinds of fashion finds can draw passionate afficionados looking for the unique and the collectable, with Japanese labels a perennial favourite.

Sally Hardy recalls an Orange Leather Sweetheart Jacket by Yohji Yamamoto Pour Homme. Emblazoned with ’22nd Sweetheart’ and a pinup mermaid on the back, the jacket sold at a Theodore Bruce fashion auction last year for $6,875 including buyers premium (IBP). Also drawing strong bidding recently was a pair of Gianni Versace Black Leather Men’s Knee High Boots, with a keen buyer paying $1,188 IBP for the statement footwear.

Gucci, Milan: Bright Pink Canvas Dual Handle Tote, Summer Flower Print, Purple Leather Trim & Base, Goldtone Hardware, Magnetic Top ClosureSearching for Quality

For many buyers, the quality of vintage garments and accessories is a major drawcard. While vintage and designer fashion auctions have consistent followers, Sally explains that certain collections tend to garner particular interest.

We do find single vendor fashion collections create more interest with buyers,” says Sally. “This may in part be due to the seller’s name, but these collections also feature clothing, handbags & accessories of exceptional quality.”

The Collection of the Late Helena Carr which went to auction in February, is typical of named collections with strong appeal. Highlights included an Alai Black Calfskin Crossbody Bag ($1,375 IBP), a Louis Vuitton Lionne Daimer Sauvage Leather Bag ($1,125 IBP) and a striking Gucci Bright Pink Canvas Tote (pictured) which reached $1,000 IBP.

Tradita, Italy: Pink & Blue Lilac Print Bodice, Floral Print to Full Length Black Skirt, Long Sleeve Evening Dress, Sash, c.1970sSupporting Sustainable Fashion

For a new generation of buyers – and many long term vintage lovers – the focus is increasingly on sustainable fashion, and for good reason. The fashion industry is the second-largest industrial polluter, producing more emissions than air travel and maritime transport combined. has published alarming figures on fast fashion indicating 1.92 million tonnes of textile waste are produced every year, the fashion industry is responsible for 20% of global wastewater and the apparel industry’s global emissions look set to increase by 50% over the next six years.

The statistics also show that many people are wearing and keeping clothes for shorter periods, with the number of times a garment is worn declining by around 36% in 15 years.

It’s the reason why the recycled fashion movement has gained momentum. Rejecting mass produced fashion isn’t a new trend. It was part of the 1960’s and ’70s counterculture, and there have always been buyers opting for vintage. The difference now is that it’s moving mainstream, with more people keen to upcycle and swap clothes, and to buy at vintage stores or fashion auctions.

Pictured: Tradita, Italy: Pink & Blue Lilac Print Bodice, Floral Print to Full Length Black Skirt, Long Sleeve Evening Dress, Sash, c.1970s – coming to auction soon.

Ungaro, solo donna, Paris: Green Silk Crepe with Grey Floral Print Dress, Layers to Hem, Short SleevesVintage Fashion Fun

Another fabulous thing about vintage fashion? It’s fun. Vintage fashion lovers enjoy the thrill of an auction – and the chance to find something bold, beautiful and one-of-a-kind.

While elite designers can go under the hammer for sky high prices, there’s also a whole world of gorgeous vintage items on offer for bargain prices.

The Ungaro Green Silk Crepe Dress pictured sold for $90 recently, one of the many items buyers regularly snap up for under $100.

Theodore Bruce holds regular fashion auctions featuring clothing for women and men, handbags, shoes and accessories, with some interesting collections coming soon.

Our upcoming Vintage Fashion includes The Collection of the Late Janette Beavis, who was an inveterate auction goer,” says Sally. “There’s a good selection of vintage furs and handbags, and some beautiful items from the 1960’s and ’70s, including a standout 1960’s Racine Yellow & Green Organza Evening Dress with an accordion pleat bodice.”

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