Reproduction vintage (or ‘new vintage’) is dismissed in some circles; true vintage is seen as the most environmentally friendly and socially responsible way to dress, with recreations of the ‘real thing’ viewed as a bit pointless. As someone obsessed with 1930s and 1940s clothing, I deeply appreciate original garments and have enormous respect for those who painstakingly collect, mend and maintain true vintage wardrobes. Of course, though, not everyone who loves vintage style can achieve a wardrobe full of true vintage.
There are so many reasons why 30s-40s true vintage is unattainable – be it the financial cost, availability of surviving vintage pieces in your area (hello fellow Australians!), size availability, or time restrictions and other lifestyle factors. As such, there is an important place for small-scale, ethically produced reproduction vintage pieces and the brands who create them. Reproduction vintage increases the accessibility of vintage style to those who otherwise, for a variety of reasons I have only touched on, would have to go without. Personally, I don’t believe a true vintage outfit would survive my unpredictable and ever-changing chronic illness symptoms. It’s not really practical for me to be wearing a delicate, one-off item when I could end up very unwell, and I’d find it stressful worrying about damaging an item that has survived 90 years and a World War!
If true vintage is unsuitable, another option available to us is thrifting. There are some amazing people on Instagram who are able to create beautiful, authentic looking 1940s ensembles from more modern thrifting finds, and as an Aussie it’s remarkable to me the discoveries that are made in UK, European and American thrift stores! I personally don’t go thrifting anymore. On my low-symptom days I sometimes feel bad for not having more thrifted items in my wardrobe, but the reality is thrifting is enormously time and energy intensive and, as I live with chronic fatigue and chronic pain, it’s just not how I choose to expend my finite energy.
Like true vintage & thrifted vintage-look outfits, reproduction vintage does not ‘date’ as modern fashion does – being a classic style that has already stood the test of time, vintage reproduction and new vintage, though being newly produced, still exist outside the world of ever-changing modern fashion. I still wear vintage style cardigans I owned a decade ago, while my ‘fashionable’ clothes from the time are long gone, and would look very daggy by current high street trends. However, it is important to note that not all repro vintage brands are created equal, and poor quality, mass-produced fast fashion type brands do exist within our vintage style sphere. If the garments are high quality, designed and constructed to last the wearer years by ethical brands who are transparent about their business practices and endeavour to improve the sustainability of their materials, I believe reproduction vintage still has an essential role to play in changing the culture of fast, disposable fashion.
One sticking point remains then for those looking to enter the world of repro vintage style: the cost. High quality reproduction vintage is expensive. Small-scale production, fair wages, safe working conditions, high quality materials and the attention to detail needed to make garments last, justifiably leads to $150AUD blouses and $300AUD jackets. For many of us, myself very much included, there is a lot of penny saving needed to purchase items of clothing from the most reputable and well-respected repro vintage brands. To me they are an investment, that when well cared for by their owners can last decades and become vintage pieces in their own right.
On top of the (very reasonable but slightly incompatible with my Disability Pension) garment costs, the majority of brands providing quality reproduction vintage are based in Europe and the UK. The sometimes eye-watering shipping costs to Australia can make buying a single item at a time financially unviable, but saving up to order in bulk can mean missing out, as these brands can sell out so ridiculously quickly when they release their new ranges! Enter your local reproduction vintage boutiques and stockists, allowing you to source your dream items from these brands domestically.
And so my fellow Australian vintage folks for whom true vintage is not always an option and thrifting proves unfruitful, I would like to introduce you to two Australian small businesses who stock my favourite vintage reproduction brands, and who I have purchased my international reproduction vintage from:
Melbourne-based stockist Call Me Valerie is an Australian home for many highly-regarded international reproduction brands – including two of my personal favourites Emmy Design Sweden and The House of Foxy. Valerie often runs pre-orders for upcoming items to ensure you get your size, which I love. She also offers a ‘Special Order’ service where she can arrange to source your favourite item from a brand she stocks for you. I have purchased through her multiple times, once by ‘Special Order’ which I can absolutely recommend. Special Order guaranteed I received the item I wanted before it sold and gave me a couple of weeks to save up too! She kept me up to date every step of the way, and she is an absolute sweetheart to deal with.
Vivien of Holloway’s sister Christine runs an online website for Australians looking to purchase Vivien of Holloway garments. It is thanks to her that I was able to get my hands on my beloved pair of dogtooth Katharine Trousers, which were gone in a flash as soon as they were released! I always go to Christine when I need the low-down on new Katharines. She is always extremely kind and goes above and beyond to source her customers’ favourite pieces (and puts up with my no doubt nauseating “PLEASE WHEN IS THIS GETTING RESTOCKED YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND I NEEED IT” enquiries). She is based in Melbourne, and you can purchase straight through her website, or contact her via Instagram or the website if there’s something specific you’re after. If you’re in Melbourne town, you may see her out and about at events, so be sure to say hi!
You can find more of my favourite reproduction brands, including some based in Australia, at the bottom of my previous blog posts. This is obviously not an extensive list, so please comment below with your favourite reproductions brands, Australian boutiques and stockists! I hope you enjoy exploring what these small vintage businesses have to offer, please stay safe lovely humans! BB x