Between lockdown orders, more people working from home than ever before and special event cancellations, 2020 may be remembered as one of the most casual years in fashion in recent memory.
But what trends have been most pressing on vintage and pre-loved clothing stores in Waterloo Region? Rachel Behling, proprietress of Auburn Vintage Clothiers and Danielle Green, owner of Artisanal Design Co. had answers.
As their customers started to spend more time in their homes this past year, both Behling and Green noticed some changes in buying habits.
“Jewelry has done well. Because again, when you’re on Zoom all day — the chunky earrings. Remember the day earrings of the eighties? I sell so many of those,” Behling said.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Green saw an increased desire for loungewear.“[Customers are] looking for leggings, they’re looking for sweaters like hoodies, they’re looking for sportswear.”
Despite the allure of comfortable loungewear, however, the fashion-minded in Waterloo Region have still been investing in their post-pandemic wardrobe according to Behling.
“Every so often I would just post a cocktail dress and it would get snapped up. Again, it’s the fabric, it’s the era, but it’s also that positivity that things are going to go back to normal.”
I mean, the longer we go through this, the more people are saying, heck with this, I’m going to wear sparkle because I can’t go to my holiday party,” Behling said.
Despite living through a year in which most (if not all) special occasions and events were cancelled, consumers have looked to vintage and secondhand clothing to break up the monotony and to feel special.
Behling hypothesized that increased interest in nostalgic shows on streaming platforms like Netflix may have also renewed demand for vintage pieces.
For Green, fashion in 2020 has been about taking back control during a tumultuous year:
“I think that [customers] want to feel like they’re in control of something… I can’t control what goes on in politics, I can’t control whether or not my kids are going to be home 24/7, … but I can control how I look, I control how I feel, I can control what I purchase.”
So which, if any, of last year’s trends will continue into 2021? Because workers are unlikely to return to office spaces quickly (if at all) this year, Green is expanding her approach to her inventory and sourcing a lot more vintage pieces for her clients.
“Vintage tees and vintage sweaters, and finding more leggings … things that you still feel good in and look good in while you’re going out to do those regular tasks,” Green said.
At Auburn Vintage Clothiers, Behling will continue to stock popular items such as high-neck blouses and coats, while prioritizing finding items that have their own unique backstory.
When the history of 2020 fashion is written, there might just be more variation than we think.
Caitlin Mulroney is a digital content creator who founded @mytechwardrobe after navigating casual dress codes in the tech industry. She now inspires others on her social platforms with her unique fashion styling and how-to videos. Look for her new "Wearing WR" column monthly where she'll highlight topics like local sustainable fashion, LGBTQ2+ options, size inclusivity, and more.