*Original post by Anne Vindedal Ronald
We often see discussions in the newspapers on our over consumption of cheap, mass-produced clothes. This consumption has consequences, both for the environment and for the people in developing countries far away, who struggle to make these cheap clothes for us. Historically, clothes were investments with prospects of a long life. Now, we produce them to last a few months - until they are out of fashion and no longer catch our interest. I think this is a sad development, with negative consequences for people and the environment.
In my own closet, I prefer keeping only a small collection of clothes, organized neatly side by side. A couple of blouses, some skirts, a few jackets and a coat. They represent a few carefully selected garments and I know the history behind each one of them. Some of them are old, vintage, either bought from vintage stores or fairs, or inherited from my fashionable mother. Some of them I have bought on my travels abroad, some are gifts and some are investments made to last for a lifetime. They all tell their stories and remind me of happenings or people in my life. My daughters can inherit them, use them or even sell them.
I look at the little suit jacket made in the sixties by British designers Marion Foale and Sally Tuffin. My mother bought it here in Bergen to wear for my brother’s christening in 1968. The jacket tells a story about British design in «the swinging sixties». For my mother, it brings back memories of a milestone family event. I have had it since my young student days, and worn it for work and for parties. Now it rests in my closet most of the time, but sometimes it is still put to use and is every bit as appealing as it was 49 years ago.
Beside this jacket hangs the Ossie Clark crepe dress that my mother bought in the seventies. Ossie Clark was - like Foale and Tuffin - part of the young, British designer school in the sixties and the seventies, when London took Paris`s place as the leading fashion metropolis. Clark made clothes for celebrities like Mick and Bianca Jagger, Marianne Faithful and Twiggy, and he was known as the «master of cut» because of his artistry with cutting fabric. This dress – stowed away in my parents’ attic since the late seventies - is now on its way to the renowned vintage store Resurrection Vintage in LA. The dress is valued around 2200 USD. Over the course of a few decades it has multiplied in value, since most of Ossie Clark’s design from the sixties and the seventies are now gone.
Beside my other silk blouses, I see the one I bought on my first trip to London a couple of years ago. It is a beautiful silk blouse in lovely colours from Yves Saint Laurent. The thought of how it was stuck in between countless other vintage garments in The Rellik of Portobello makes me smile. A cluttered and overloaded, yet charming vintage store with an energetic owner who is deeply committed to old clothes and fashion history. Now the blouse is here in my closet, forever connected with memories of my first trip to London and of the other occasions when I have used it since.
In a drawer lies the handbag that I bought from a lady living in Paris, who sells lovely vintage bags on a Norwegian online marketplace. The bag is from the French brand Cèline, an old fashion house that make sought after handbags also today. This one is from the seventies, in box shape and made of beige canvas and with brown leather details. It was found in an attic in Paris, wrapped in silk paper and in a newspaper dating back to 1970. It was neatly packed away when the lady who owned it didn' t use it any longer. I can see before my eyes how this French madam maybe searched all over Paris for the perfect handbag, and eventually decided on this beautiful one from Cèline. I don`t think that she could ever imagine that the handbag would end up here, in freezing cold Norway 40 years later. Now it is here in my closet, beautiful as a shining pearl.
Unfortunately, it is not very likely that the cheap, mass produced clothes that fills our closets today will still be here in 40 years. This is a shame, because clothes can be so much more than just clothes. They speak of the development of society, they tell us something about people’s identity, and they bring memories. Memories of travels, of happenings, of a child’s Christening or of a wedding. Something that makes it worthwhile to invest in a few, but sustainable clothes that in the future can tell stories from the days gone by.
A Norwegian native, Anne Vindedal Roald is a vintage writer and a vintage collector. She has a Masters degree in sociology, and her main interests are the impact historical changes in society have, and have had on fashion during the decades since 1900.
She is also very concerned with the ecological aspects of vintage and vintage trade, with the dream of starting her very own luxury vintage store. You can connect with Anne via her blog www.anneskommode.no and on Instagram @anneskommode.