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Brands want to participate in the archival fashion boom

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The turmoil of the past twelve months seems to have wiped out fashion trends, with moods and desires almost impossible to follow on a global scale. But one phenomenon still looks set to dominate 2021: vintage clothing, or archival fashion, as connoisseurs call it. (Funny, because vintage was developed as the snobbish alternative to the used and the economy.) Archiving, a cut above vintage, is distinguished by the place of the pieces in the fashion history – he appeared on the catwalks, started a trend or was very influential. And most importantly, it was created by a historically important designer.

The pandemic and a new environmental awareness among young people helped kick off the archival fashion boom. But there is also a sensitivity among Gen Z and Gen Y that archival fashion is a way to signal taste and conscience. (If HF Twitter is anything to go by, the Gen Zers are particularly obsessed with ’90s and’ 00s fashion.) It demonstrates an ability to look beyond the hyped marketing blitz that fashion has become, instead of giving the priority to a desire to hunt. Finding an Isseey Miyake killer flight jacket is a show of connoisseur, rather than just the ability to stand in line.

A new report from luxury resale platform The RealReal confirms growing interest in archival clothing, showing that across all categories on the site, from watches and handbags to ready-to-wear, Ready-to-wear sellers were earning more than the previous year on vintage products, which the site defines as accessories and clothing over ten years old. In fact, vintage sales increased 67% between the first and second half of the year, brands such as Jean-Paul Gaultier, Issey Miyake and Versace saw huge spikes for items initially released in the 90s and 2000s.

This is exciting news for The Real Real, the planet, and your weirdly cool nephew. It’s less exciting for luxury fashion brands. When these consumers reach the true luxury shopping age group, will they have a taste for the very expensive but readily available products that form the basis of the market?

Some brands have tackled the archives problem head-on by partnering with RealReal. Last October, Gucci announced a partnership with the site that allows it to sell its own second-hand or archival goods (such as those used in campaign shoots), and pledged to plant a tree for every Gucci property sold. on the platform. (Incidentally, the site notes in the report that the resale value of vintage Gucci is up 12%). Burberry has a similar arrangementAs of October 2019, RealReal customers who consign a Burberry item to the site receive a free personal shopping experience at a Burberry store, tea included. Around the same time, Ralph Lauren has launched a collaboration with Depop, the Generation Z favorite for vintage fashion, with Lauren second-hand items curated by Depop users on the site and in pop-up spaces at select stores. This arrangement allowed Ralph Lauren to cut profits. (None of Burberry, Gucci, and Stella McCartney, another RealReal brand partner, receive any money from their partnerships.)

This dynamic is not so different from the art market, where artists are cut off from future sales of their pieces at auction or between dealers. But profits are not necessarily the goal for many designers, interest in archives is only part of the strategy. In a Zoom yesterday to share his fall 2021 collection, Italian maestro Brunello Cucinelli wore a spring 2017 jacket that he had reworked for this collection, in a new fabric, with three buttons instead of two, and a higher lapel. For the Louis Vuittons Spring 2021 collection, Virgil Abloh offered a generous interpretation of upcycling that included reused fabrics as well as a redistribution of looks and pieces from previous collections encouraging a collector’s eye rather than a palm sensibility.

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