Akinsete remembers vintage’s 1990s resurgence, when he and business partner Govella Pangidzwa, opened Souled Out, a small shop on Portobello Green. “The timing was perfect. Portobello was like East London now, super hip. Kate Moss and Helena Christensen, Björk and Kylie, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana: they all came in.” What’s different today? “It’s more than just trendy, it’s a lifestyle – [the popularity of vintage] has come through education and it’s a response to fast fashion – and that’s good.” Currently, Akinsete is working with auction house Bonhams as it prepares its Cool Britannia exhibition for next spring, for which he’ll be curating a section on vintage fashion.
This added element of craft and regeneration, of upcycling and repair offers another contemporary dimension to Vintage 2.0. Central Saint Martins student Boy Kloves, who has already collaborated with Converse and dressed the band Haim for V Magazine (and whose way with Hawaiian shirts and vintage napkins will take your breath away) is one of a cohort of designers wholly open to its possibilities. “There’s a rise in young people looking at things that already exist, that are beautiful, that are usable, not only to take inspiration from – but also to use as fabrics for creation,” he says.
“Global warming is a crisis facing our generation; it’s a new thing you have to consider as a young person,” he continues. “Designers and makers are very much problem solvers in their own right. Vintage and upcycling as a method are ways to address the problem in interesting ways.” It is this embedding – of concern for the climate crisis, of the perception of vintage as the logical retort to fast fashion and of upcycling and repair as alternative forms of making – that is the surest sign that vintage has real traction. A generation that has everything to gain and nothing to lose by embracing sustainable practices is waking up, and they mean business.