Commes Des Garcons

The culture of fashion: The 90s is officially vintage – here’s why that’s a good thing

Jil Sander 1990s

It recently dawned on me that the 1990s, the era that defined me, is properly vintage. While it’s a discombobulating thought (I mean, I don’t feel middle-aged), there are some positives. One is that the minimalist-slash-deconstructivist designers of the time – Margiela, Lang, Demeulemeester, Sander, Prada, Klein – have become established as classics and thus there’s a new market for them.

Ann Demeulemeester 90s vintage
Byronesque Martin Margiela oversize inside-out dress
Prada 1999
sentaku vintage

And to chime with that, we’re seeing a swell of upstart online vintage businesses launch that focus on curating exactly this now-timeless aesthetic. The OGs of this, if I’m not mistaken, are Byronesque, who launched in 2013, and you can listen to an extremely insightful interview with co-founder and editor-in-chief, Gill Linton on Ana Andjelic’s Business of Aspiration podcast.

But I’ve also recently noticed a number of influencers sharing their 90s vintage classic purchases from online and Instagram stores around Europe. Preclothed, Sentaku, Neuzwei, Akademy and Sandarchivio are a few to get you started. And Retold, The Level and Bonsergent Studio are pre-owned sellers with a 90s minimalist-adjacent aesthetic, if not 100% the real thing.

Often, newer brands are woven into the mix – think The Row, Toteme and Khaite. The key to success is in the curation and presentation. Photography is as polished as any high-end ecommerce store, as is the site design and branding.

Prada Spring 97
The Level vintage trench
Comme des Garcons spring 98
The Level Lacoste vintage

Where Byronesque differs is in its dedication to contextualising fashion as culture. As Ana Andjelic puts it in a recent Sociology of Business newsletter, “Sartorial weirdness is luxury as affirmation of power – the power of luxury as an aesthetic system and also the power of individual designers within the industry. Polyvore 3.0 is all about luxury as membership, taste signaling and belonging to taste communities. Vintage establishes luxury as knowledge – both the knowledge of environmental cost of fashion and the knowledge of history, meaning and importance of cultural goods. Pre-owned models, including rentals and resales, establishes luxury as rarity, uniqueness and power of objects granted to them by everyone who touched them, owned them, and wore them.”

So, if you want to learn about the 90s ‘minimalist’ brands you’re buying, head to Byronesque for its in-depth content and curation. But if you’d rather ‘get the look’ and build some timeless 90s vintage pieces into your wardrobe, that’s now going to be easier than ever.


WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Allure; Ann Demeulemeester Spring 1997; Byronesque Martin Margiela oversize inside-out dress; Prada 1999; Sentaku vintage; Prada Spring 97; The Level vintage trench; Comme des Garcons spring 98; The Level Lacoste vintage
NOTE: Most images are digitally enhanced. Some posts use affiliate links and PR samples. Please read my privacy and cookies policy here

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Rei Kawakubo for Louis Vuitton

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