Fashion is cyclical. The trends of today might fade and dissipate but months or even years later, they’re bound to re-emerge as sought-after pieces. Which makes second hand shops fertile breeding ground for uncovering hidden gems at cut prices.
And there’s always a surplus of second-hand clothing to go around. Vintage and charity shops are dotted around the UK – not to mention the wares on offer at growing online marketplaces like Depop and Grailed.
According to James Hillman, vintage clothing also offers a sustainable alternative to the environmentally damaging impact of fast fashion retailers. Manufacturing of clothing accounts for a substantial proportion of the pollution afflicting the environment.
To help narrow your search the next time you’re rummaging through the bargain bin, we’ve compiled a list of the trending pieces to keep an eye out for.
Jeans never go out of fashion. They’re the uniform of fashion-conscious people of all backgrounds and ages. Vintage shops always have a sizable collection of jeans on offer and the enduring quality of Levi’s makes them one of the most in-demand and well-stocked denim options out there.
Instead of forking out loads of money on brand-new Levi jeans, why not give a used pair a chance for a fraction of the price.
Because the fashion cognoscenti have moved away from skinny jeans, baggier options are now in style – making the roomier fit offered by older jeans much more attractive. Some craftier consumers have even recognized the potential of cheaper, older jeans by cutting off the bottom of each pant leg for a cropped look.
College sweatshirts are easy to pick up at any vintage market or fair. Because they’re produced by brand name Champion for colleges across the US and Canada, there’s a certain benchmark of quality that you can expect to encounter with every single piece.
Made from a thick, warm material with narrow cuffs that prevent the jumper from engulfing your body, they’re a great option for people of all shapes and sizes – especially in slightly cooler climes.
And, because of the sheer range of schools represented, there’s an exhaustive range of colorways to choose from.
One trend that has shown no sign of stopping is vintage band tees. It doesn’t necessarily matter if you’ve ever heard of the group emblazoned on your chest; the muted, faded quality that only decades of wear, tear, and washing can bring is all the rage at the moment.
Collectors of vintage band tees have capitalized on the demand for vintage band tees by cultivating an expansive list of clientele – from rappers to NBA players. Some have even been able to charge thousands for the most sought-after tees.
You’ll more than likely encounter a few band tees at every single vintage shop you venture into. Being able to discern between mass-produced tees and genuine collector’s items will give you the best chance of snaring a bargain.
Even if you don’t manage to sniff out an ultra-rare collector’s piece, you’ll still look great in whatever vintage band tee you manage to snare. Even faux vintage band tees are popular.
Reclaiming trends from the 2000s
It isn’t quite the flared jeans or you’d typically think of when you first hear the word vintage but there has been a resurgence in interest in the styles of the 2000s. From brash and bold LA-based stalwarts like Juicy Couture to trucker hat extraordinary Von Dutch, today’s teenagers are pining to emulate the outfits of their favorite pop culture figures from the noughties.
Dedicated and eagle-eyed bargain hunters might be able to spot sought-after pieces from these storied brands in charity shops and second-hand stores throughout the UK. Bedazzled diamante tops and loud pink pastels are entirely emblematic of that era of celebrity. Paris Hilton was arguably the foremost proponent.
Fellow 2000s celebrities like Ashton Kutcher and Justin Timberlake were frequently spotted in Von Dutch trucker hats. There are an array of styles to choose from: the in-your-face pink, jewelled trucker hat to the all-denim one to the more reserved and pared-down versions.
The dad hat trend of the last few years has come to its natural conclusion – just like snapbacks before them. Taking its place – entirely inspired by a cultural curiosity and driven by today’s teenagers – is the hat of the moment in the early 2000s: the trucker hat.
They’ve enjoyed a meteoric return to relevancy in recent months. Treasured vintage trucker hats with unique colorways and design features fetch a pretty penny on the resale market. Diving into buckets of old hats is worth your time. Uncovering one of a kind, worn and faded in just the right places, can make for a worthy addition to your hat rotation.
Traditionally the preserve of dynastically wealthy families with a penchant for shooting and hunting, wax jackets should be a candidate to become a staple of your winter wardrobe.
In vintage shops, wax jackets are available for a fraction of the price you’d expect to pay at Barbour. You’ll still get a stylish, weather resistant jacket despite paying so much less. Second hand shops everywhere stock a range of wax jackets in an array of colours from dark green to blue to black.
They provide a smart, slightly more formal alternative to bubble jackets or duffle coats. They’re a great layer to wear over a suit or shirt.
Rather than springing suddenly and abruptly into newfound popularity, they’re an ever-present fixture in the fashion world and something you should definitely be looking to pick up at a discounted price at your nearest vintage shop.
Vintage clothing in 2023
You never know where the next trend is likely to spring from. Social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram – as well as the documentarians of fashion culture at the likes of GQ, Vogue and Grazia – are the best places to keep up with the newest trends. Scouring vintage shops for underappreciated and unloved items that catch your eye is a fantastic way to get your hands on unique pieces that no one else has.
You never know – you may well be responsible for the next big thing in fashion.