The Most Popular Vintage Fashion Items to Shop, According to Gen Z
Sustainable fashion is important to Gen Z, and that's no secret. With retailers and apps making it easier than ever to shop secondhand, thrifting vintage fashion is an easy, sensible way for style enthusiasts to protect the environment. It also feels great to own a piece of merchandise that not many others will have. Celebrities like Zendaya, Olivia Rodrigo, and Billie Eilish often pull from '90s and Y2K archives to create some of the most shared style moments on social media. But perfecting your own vintage fashion style may seem daunting if you don't know where to start.
If you're thinking about exploring the vintage fashion market instead of buying new, this research will help point you in the right direction. We talked to Founder and CEO of ShopShops, Liyia Wu, who combed shopping data to help us uncover the most popular vintage clothing brands, vintage fashion trends, and vintage designer bags among Gen Z. She also points out that investment bags is a Gen-Z-favorite category.
Why are Zoomers so enamored with vintage fashion? "Gen Z is drawn to both the history and nostalgia of certain collections, trends, and designers," Wu told POPSUGAR. "The fact that these pieces are simply more rare and less accessible means they feel much more special and interesting to share or talk about with their close communities on social channels." The eras that inspire their fashion choices are also significant, Wu explains. "For the youth of the '90s, it was a time untouched by social media and personal style was influenced by glossy magazines and what was popular on TV. Today, collecting vintage and past collection pieces is part of investing in and building a really personal and individual wardrobe."
Read ahead to get the lowdown on the vintage clothing brands, bags, and trends Gen-Z is loving right now.
Vintage Clothing Online
In addition to ShopShops, retailers like Poshmark, What Goes Around Comes Around, and The RealReal make it easier than ever to find vintage clothing online. And Wu says Gen Z shoppers view the shopping experience as thrilling and rewarding. "It becomes a treasure hunt, whether it's for a mid-aughts Miu Miu collection or '70s Bonnie Cashin Coach bag," she shares. "Other digital secondhand marketplaces, like Poshmark and The RealReal, are certainly seeing a boost in Gen Z traffic, too, based on timelessness or provenance of some of those rare pre-loved or vintage luxury items."
Vintage Clothing Brands
Vintage clothing brands that remain popular among Gen Z include legacy fashion houses like Louis Vuitton and Chanel, as well as buzzy names like Loewe. "We consistently see a lot of traction and genuine love for Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Fendi, Gucci, and Versace," says Wu. "And while those are the most coveted brands, Prada, YSL, and Loewe are gaining popularity, too. In terms of data, we're always looking closely at product clicks, as well as the amount of time customers spend onsite."
ShopShops also keeps an eye on global brands that are rising in popularity. "International fashion brands popular in the EU, Korea, or Japan markets, as well as brands popular with Dover Street Market, also catch our eye — like Rick Owens, Margiela, Sacai, Moncler, and The North Face."
Vintage Bags Designer
Vintage bags — especially designer styles — are the best-selling category among Gen Z. "We're seeing an uptick in classic Coach bags," says Wu. "However, the most consistent bags are the Louis Vuitton Speedy and classic Chanel calfskin flap bag. We've also seen a huge trend in shoulder bags, like the Louis Vuitton Monogram Pochette and Louis Vuitton Neverfull."
"Prada Re-Edition 2000 Re-Nylon bags continue to be big, probably because they are so utility-driven and classic; not fussy but very practical. These are pieces that are solid investments and gain a lot of value over time. That's really important — scoring one of these historic handbags that will accrue so much value even as you use it. Disposable fashion is definitely not part of this mindset."
Vintage Fashion Trends
Gen Z is particularly interested in Y2K and '90s fashion trends as of late. Gleaning inspiration from shows like "Sex and the City" and "Friends," shoulder bags are a particular favorite. Aesthetics like indie sleaze and quiet luxury reign supreme, thanks to viral moments that are shared widely across TikTok, such as Sofia Richie's high-fashion wedding or Princess Diana's off-duty old money wardrobe. "Trends like indie sleaze, the old money aesthetic, and Y2K are booming, and it is apparent in their purchasing power and what is in high demand," says Wu.
You can't understate the influence of TikTok — or TV shows — on these burgeoning trends. "TikTok absolutely trickles down to our users' interest and buying habits," Wu explains. "During the pandemic, Gen Z bonded through a nostalgic lens on social media and especially TikTok. The emerging trends harkened back to shows like "Sex and the City" and "Friends." The items in those '90s shows are making a comeback now. The Fendi baguette is a great example that sparked high search for about two to three weeks, but then also faded quickly."