Why are we so driven to gather things? Perhaps as a result of nostalgia, compulsiveness, or the prestige symbol that comes with possessing a unique item. The truth is that individual collectors are currently the most ardent promoters of vintage clothing, even more so than celebrities and even more so than the businesses themselves. Finding a monogrammed silk shirt by Tom Ford for Gucci more current than the most recent Supreme release is a trend that denotes a fashion perspective divorced from the never-ending cycle of trends or the contemporary marketing gimmicks of major companies.The TikTok hashtag #ArchiveFashion, used by Gen Z to share their thrift, has had over 427 million views, while vintage shop accounts like Studded Petals gain hundreds of thousands of followers. The Real Real’s 2021 report demonstrates that sellers made more money selling vintage items than they did the year before in every category on the site, from watches to handbags to ready-to-wear, with sales growth of +67% between the first and second halves of the year, with labels like Versace, Issey Miyake, and Jean-Paul Gaultier registering enormous peaks for items originally released in the 1990s.
What exactly does the term “archival fashion” mean? Mears of FIT stated in a Vogue Business article that “among the boxes to be checked are: a garment designed specifically for the catwalk, a model worn by a prominent star or that has garnered great public notice, an important item in a brand’s history.” A new generation of private collectors is poised to monopolize archival fashion as a result of these rules, challenging museums, foundations, and even the designers themselves. These people include celebrities like Stephanie Seymour, a supermodel and ardent admirer of designer Azzedine Alaia, who chose to wear a dress by the eponymous label for her wedding, matching that of her maid of honor, Naomi Campbell. Adrian Appiolaza, on the other hand, is a designer who appreciates some of the most timeless pieces ever made by Comme Des Garçons, from Rei Kawakubo’s “Body Meets Dress, Dress Meets Body” through the “Hiroshima chic” of the early 1980s. While model and musician Daphne Guinness conceals a love for Alexander McQueen and journalist Alexander Fury is a compulsive shopper of John Galliano luxury clothing. Michael Kardamakis is the founder of ENDYMA, a fashion archive that features designers of the caliber of Raf Simons, Rick Owens, Junya Watanabe, as well as being the owner of the largest collection of Helmut Lang suits. He was recently featured by The Unknown Vlogs. David Casavant, 30, rents out his extensive collection to celebrities like Solange, Lorde, Kim Kardashian, and Travis Scott after using the money he inherited from his parents to scour eBay for used clothing for a decade. Neil Leonard of Lab2022 recently spoke to Vogue.uk about his passion for Tom Ford’s Gucci archive. The story of Sandy Schreier, who maintains the largest private fashion collection in the United States in Detroit, is emblematic, since she frequently makes donations like the 165 items she gave to the Costume Institute and has leased things to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Prior to the advent of e-commerce, collecting fashion was a niche pastime. The most valuable items were often purchased by a select few affluent collectors or specialized museums and sold at auction. But as more people get access to uncommon objects because to a slew of new websites and apps, the competition to buy collectibles is getting more intense. However, due to increased access through a variety of new websites and apps, the race to buy collectibles is getting more intense as people scramble to obtain uncommon goods. A Valentino Haute Couture garment can cost more than $45,000, so money is still required to compete with the major collectors, but the environment has drastically altered. Jessica Regan, associate curator at the Costume Institute, told BOF: “We’re frequently in competition with private bidders for the same works. 5,000 auction houses are represented on a digital marketplace, and prices for fashion collectibles have increased 400% since 2014, according to data from Bloomberg. Raf Simons’s camouflage bomber jacket, which cost a few thousand dollars in 2001, is now worth up to $42,000.
Fashion may be chosen and displayed, just like art or antiquities. The archive preserves the history of brands, honors their heydays, and provides designers with inspiration. It can be a useful resource for marketing teams, to spread awareness through collaborations with shops, to serve as content for museum exhibitions, or when outfitting a celebrity. To get rid of unsold excess and keep loyal fans interested, some brands have archive sales where they sell clothing from previous collections. As in a narcissistic complex, collectors rediscover the art of patience when searching for a pair of Prada Mary Jane’s from the 1990s, waiting years to find them at an auction before finding them, by chance, in a modest second-hand shop in Piccadilly. Fashion is self-generated by seeing in its past the reflection of future collections and vice versa. Having a large network of friends, patience, and endurance are all necessary for collecting, which is becoming more and more popular.