Love for the Golden Age: Is Vintage Thrifting the New Cool?

//vol.15-3 Feature

Love for the Golden Age: Is Vintage Thrifting the New Cool?


by Stella Chen

In a world constantly obsessed with the latest trends and fleeting fashions, vintage shopping is more than just a hobby: it’s a lifestyle.


When I travel, vintage shopping is always a must on my to-do list. There is just something about vintage clothing that intrigues me – perhaps it’s the nostalgia that washes over me or the curiosity I have when I gaze upon these garments imagining their stories from the past days. Maybe it’s the uniqueness of each vintage store that reflects the shop owner’s aesthetic.

During my recent solo trip to Vietnam, I stumbled upon a hidden gem – a vintage shop on the top floor of a colourful tenement building in Ho Chi Minh City. The place was recommended by a local girl after I asked her where young locals hang out. The building had everything, from cute cafes to handcrafted accessories and art workshops, and the vintage store was tucked away in a little corner with little signage to attract people walking by.

As I walked into the shop, I was amazed by the wide selection of vintage clothes and the serious retro vibes. From plush velvet dresses from the 90s to Cher T-shirts from the 70s, I found myself lost in this trendsetting blend from the days gone by. I got to talk to the shop owner, and we exchanged our passion and experience in hunting vintage pieces. She told me that she handpicked all of the clothes in the shop by flying to different cities and countries. The owner was surprised to learn that there are quite a few vintage clothing stores in Hong Kong. She started her store as a passion project with her friend, and now they see more and more young people coming to visit the store, despite its hidden location.

The chat with the vintage shop owner in another country made me think about young people’s growing interest in buying pre-loved clothes and pursuing more sustainable fashion. Vintage clothing is not just old sweaters from your grandma’s closet – it’s unique articles of clothing that reflect the trends popular at the time they were made.

According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the availability of clothing made from sustainable cotton is low, and eco-labelling remains absent from fashion products. WWF urged consumers to change their mindset from fast fashion to slow consumption, and from impulse buying to conscious purchases.

It’s exciting to see the vintage clothing market growing as this could be a great eco-friendly alternative to fast fashion. Having lived in the Mainland, Hong Kong, and the UK, I’ve experienced fashion’s hyper-discount culture in many different ways. From China’s Double 11 Shopping Festival to the UK’s Black Friday, I’ve seen friends spending a crazy amount on things that they don’t necessarily need just because they are irresistible deals.

These shopping events and mindless consumption actually indulge big fast fashion brands in overproducing unsustainable products because they know consumers will help them get rid of their stockpiles as long as they offer good deals and high discounts.

Therefore, it’s important to build a more sustainable fashion system, and shopping for vintage and second-hand clothes could change your relationship with your wardrobe and give you a different perspective on having fun with fashion. Think about having a little clothes-swapping party with your friends, mending your clothes, or upcycling your old clothes by tailoring the fabrics and transforming them into a new design lo

 The trend among young people of hunting vintage clothes and looking for nostalgic styles, such as Y2k aesthetic, 90s video vixens, and leather garments, is also a sign that people are seeking a different sense of identity and expression. People want to stop being uncritical consumers of mega-clothing brands like H&M and SHEIN. Enjoying the search for some rare finds, people express their individuality through vintage clothes.

Vintage shopping is more than just a hobby: it’s a lifestyle. It’s about exploring new cities or the city you live in, meeting new people, and finding unique clothing items that reflect your personality. So, the next time when you’re travelling, don’t forget to add vintage shopping to your itinerary. Who knows what hidden gems you’ll find?