It looks as though everything old is new again for college students today. From record players to high-waisted shorts, from music festivals to Tumblr and everywhere in between, vintage, and vintage-inspired, items are the trend of the moment.
“I think it’s just like, it’s the cool thing to have vintage now,” said vintage shopper Harlee Kocen, a recent graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, who was wearing an embroidered jean jacket which once belonged to her dad. “This jacket’s held up for like, I don’t know since the ‘60s, and I have another jean jacket that’s starting to completely fall apart, it’s tearing everywhere, and I got it maybe two years ago.”
For some students, vintage items just seem to be of a higher quality than those made today.
“I guess real vintage is well-made and lasts in a way that temporary clothing does not,” said shopper Meredith Argenzio, a student at VCU. “Like we were talking about how Jeffrey Campbell shoes fall apart, how annoying is that?”
And for others, thrift shopping is all about the thrill of hunting down a great bargain and saving a little money, or is an accessible way to emulate the vintage vibes of celebrities and fashion icons.
“Vintage represents something cool,” said recent VCU graduate Diane Nguyen, whose entire outfit during her day shopping at Artists & Fleas was, coincidentally, vintage. “You go to Urban [Outfitters] and everything’s vintage looking, but then it’s like not even vintage anymore.”
Whether students find their vintage goods at more traditional second-hand shops such as Goodwill and St. Vincent de Paul, at a new crop of curated, higher-end vintage stores and pop-up markets, or simply get their fix from vintage-inspired items at chain retailers such as Urban Outfitters and Forever 21, this trend offers a little something for everyone.
“I’m always down to go and check out flea markets, I think they’re really cool, and growing up in New York it’s a really diverse and cultural experience, so I love coming to these kinds of things because I think it really represents that,” said USC sophomore Stephanie Artisakesian.
“Where I get my fashion, I guess like sense or style from, I guess honestly is from a lot of kids on campus as well as celebrities. I follow a lot of them on Instagram, like Kendall and Kylie Jenner will wear types of clothes like this and I’m sure they pay a bunch of money for it but you can find the same type of style at flea markets. I think a more vintage style is definitely ‘in’ in LA and New York, so that’s where I’ve kind of been around that and experienced that style and culture.”
Indeed, while thrifting is a common occurrence across the country, it’s seen a noticeable resurgence in the fashion hubs of New York and Los Angeles. LA’s Melrose and La Brea Avenues are scattered with dozens of carefully curated, celebrity-approved vintage stores such as Wasteland and American Vintage, and the city’s Arts District recently hosted the West Coast’s first Artists & Fleas Market, which originated in Brooklyn, NY. Here, shoppers browsed gently-used and vintage-inspired clothing, handmade jewelry, old records and books, vintage furniture, art and more, all while bobbing along to live music and sipping cold-brewed coffee and fresh smoothies.
“I definitely think that vintage is just the cool thing now,” said Kocen. “I think for a lot of people, at least for me, I don’t have the time to go shifting through racks and racks to find a good deal on something, so I’d much rather go to something like [Artists & Fleas] and have a nice vintage, curated selection.”
The Artists & Fleas Market ran for two days from May 17-18, but with the vintage trend showing no signs of slowing down, it’s safe to say that vintage shops and marketplaces will continue popping up across the country–and college students will continue to find style inspiration in decades past while pushing the vintage resurgence into mainstream fashion.
“Coachella is an example of that [vintage] style, which might seem pretty crazy to other people, but it’s almost normal now, and a lot of that stuff you can find in a flea market,” said Celina Frelinghuysen, a USC sophomore. “I just think it’s cool, how everything old is new again and fashionable, and just finding that way to put those pieces together to make it work.”