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future vintage


Future vintage 9: Maker’s Row

I’m always interested in non-disposable clothing—the type of clothing, made today, that will be worn and appreciated decades from now as great vintage clothing. This includes knowing that the people who made the clothing were not subjected to dangerous and unhealthy working conditions.

To an extent we have been handed this gift from our parents’ and grandparents’ generations. Maybe I’m a dreamer but I’d like to see us be able to do the same for future generations.

I have an every-now-and-then series of posts dedicated to this subject which you can find by clicking on the label future vintage at the bottom of this post.

Maker’s Row is a website devoted to factory sourcing in the U.S. (“America’s Best Factories in one Place”). Listening to a story on NPR’s Morning Edition, I came to realize that there was no such comprehensive website before.

Are you a U.S. designer? A U.S. manufacturer? This seems to be a good place to make contact. Is there a modern day Claire McCardell or Bonnie Cashin among you? Let’s get you together with some of our U.S. manufacturers.

A screenshot of a very small sampling of manufacturers under the category dress

Claire McCardell’s 1942 popover dress with attached oven mitt sold in the thousands for $6.95 while Norells, Mainbochers and Hattie Carnegies ran in the hundreds of dollars. She adroitly took advantage of American mass production capability.



Future vintage 8: fashioningchange

Yesterday I ran some errands, and since I was in the neighborhood, I popped into a TJ Maxx store and looked at clothing. I am dismayed and saddened at how little quality is to be found in any—not just TJ Maxx—name-brand newly-made clothing stores.

I was looking at nightgowns. If you dropped any one of these gowns off its hanger at the store, it would make a pile no larger than a serving of mashed potatoes. The dresses in the store are also extremely light, totally unstructured and made of super-thin material. If you are a perfectly proportioned 20-year old, you might look fine in these. Any younger and you might look too sleazy, any older and you run the risk of having some part of your (perfectly normal and fine) figure showing too much. In other words, if a woman would look absolutely great walking down the street naked, she might, just might, look OK in these dresses.

All the items I looked at were made in China or Vietnam. Without further research on the labels, I would not buy these, fearing I was supporting the greedy corporations that work people in sweatshop conditions for the sake of low prices for us, and high profits for the corporation.

That’s my opinion. I feel so sorry that so many people have nowhere to turn now if they want to go try on ethically-made quality clothing. That’s why I started this series Future vintage (search those words for the previous six installments) and why I’m continuing today with the newly-launched fashioningchange.

Fashioningchange is like an online collective of eco-friendly and ethical alternatives to the big brands. I enjoy their feature Wear This, Not That. It’s fun, it shows you some stylish alternatives, and it makes you think. I look forward to exploring this site more, and finding some new items for myself...items qualified to be future vintage!



Interesting people, and future vintage 7

Recently I've had the opportunity to talk, either in person or through email, with a couple of very interesting and creative women. They both design and make fashion, but with very different approaches and styles. Still, they've been sitting on the same bench in my thoughts.

One is Ronnie Ryno, the force behind Glamarita. Her creations very often involve the use of vintage neckties, and she strongly believe in reusing vintage materials in general. Ronnie has opened Glamarita within walking distance from my home, and I love the fun, creative, non-conformist, recycled and fabulous items in her shop, as I have loved her work online. (For more on Ronnie and Glamarita, visit

The other is Anastasia La Fey, who lives across the world from me, in Australia. I have come to know of Anastasia through her interest in vintage clothing. She is the designer and creator of exquisite and intricate, origami-inspired fashions. For more on Anastasia's work, visit her anastasialafey blog.

Very different styles of creation, but both women clearly have concepts that drive their work, as well as a flare for the theatrical. Both women specifically told me that they sew all their fashions, which absolutely boggles my mind. I would be honored to wear either one of these women's creations.

My recommendation? Find creators of future vintage wherever they may be—in your neighborhood or across the planet—and support them.

Search my blog for the 6 previous future vintage posts.


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Future vintage 6: Fall 2011 runways

I consider runway fashion to be in the (no pun...) running for future vintage, and here are some of my favorites from fall 2011 runways.

It goes without saying that Donna Karan has been creating some beautiful clothing. This fall is not terribly different from last fall, but I do think her work keeps solidifying her as a descendent of Bonnie Cashin, with wearable, beautiful, timeless design, and a woman's appreciation of wearing her clothes being top priorities.

Miuccia Prada at Miu Miu has created a collection that should be dear to most vintage fashion followers, inspired by WWII-era Paris. The outsized bird prints harken to the swallow returning to its home, a potent war-era symbol.

I love the over-sized clutch bags, and this 40s-style lily of the valley print, boldened as it is in size, and on a coat.

I never stop appreciating the creativity, cut, and handsome beauty of Gaultier's collections. This extravagantly-peplumed suit would simply be my favorite least until his next collection.

At Rodarte, Kate and Laura Mulleavy dipped into multiple visions of the American prairie, from gorgeously cut neo-Victorian coats and dresses, to flowing 70s-inspired prairie print long gowns, to a sparkling red reference to Dorothy's ruby slippers.

All the images are from, where I go to wend my way through each collection. Do you do this, and if so, do you have favorites this fall? I watch to see what the future of vintage holds, along with what vintage clothing has done to inspire modern designers, yet I'm often—but not always—most interested in what looks most vintage. If you're a vintage fashion follower, do you notice modern runway fashion? Does it appeal to you especially if it appears vintage-inspired?

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Future vintage 5: Hatmakers of Etsy

Etsy is a wonderland of handmade creation, and it absolutely stands to reason that a singular creation by a singular artisan is a candidate for future vintage.

Hats seem to be thriving on Etsy, and two milliners who have caught my eye are ArturoRios and yellowfield7.

Here is just a small sampling of their exciting, beautifully designed and photographed creations. Click on the photos to be taken to the Etsy listings.

Search Future Vintage on this blog for the four previous installments in this series, and please let me know if you have any suggestions for Future Vintage (1. well designed, 2. well made, 3. created by reasonably-paid people working in safe, humane conditions).



Future vintage 4: Toms Shoes & Eyewear

By now most of you have heard of the shoe company that gives a pair of shoes to a child in need for each pair of shoes bought. Toms Shoes has had this One for One program long enough to have given away its millionth pair of shoes in September 2010.

Toms started out with a very simple—but not without interesting detail—shoe, and it is being made still.

I love it in this almost balletic ivory grosgrain incarnation:

The shoes for selling are made in China, but according to the website “We require that the factories operate under sound labor conditions, pay fair wages and follow local labor standards. A code of conduct is signed by all factories. Our production staff routinely visits these factories to make sure they are maintaining these working standards. We also have third parties audit the factories at least once a year to ensure they adhere to proper labor regulations.”

Toms shoes for giving are made in Argentina and Ethiopia. I sincerely wish that one day these same places could made the shoes for us to purchase.

Toms new eyewear is made in Italy. Again, each sale will have a one-to-one impact, with eye care being the focus, including eye surgery to restore sight. (See Toms page for more on the purpose of this new venture.) Currently there are three styles for women, two for men, all classics with a twist—a hand-painted striped temple. You can even try the glasses on, with a simple upload of your own photo.

For me, positive impact is good business practice, and just...right. I would consider it a badge of honor to wear Toms now and into the future, making it a good choice for Future Vintage.

Please do tell if you have any suggestions for this series on Future Vintage (1. well designed, 2. well made, 3. created by reasonably-paid people working in safe, humane conditions). See my previous Future Vintage posts featuring Marimekko, Swedish Hasbeens, and Ghanaian Batik and Breton Nautical.



Future vintage 3: Ghanaian Batik, Breton Nautical

When I was about 13, there was a book of catalogs from around the world called The Catalog of Catalogs. I was enchanted by this book beyond reason, and saved enough money to order a handful of the clothing catalogs. I didn't have the money to purchase the items themselves but I was inspired by the clothes from around the globe.

Finding clothing made where it should be made is one way to find Future Vintage. Just to note two examples, there are these colorful batik pieces by Global Mamas (Ghana), sold through

Another page I've bookmarked is, purveyor of Breton-made peacoats, sailor shirts, berets and other items.

Probably my favorite catalog in The Catalog of Catalogs was from Clothkits, and I was delighted to see this company is still in existence decades after I received my catalog. The concept behind this UK company is that you receive beautifully printed cotton and everything else you need to sew a particular item. The distinct prints make the items covetable, and your participation may be the best part of all.

Again, please let me know if you have any suggestions for this series on Future Vintage (1. well designed, 2. well made, 3. created by reasonably-paid people working in safe, humane conditions). See my previous Future Vintage posts featuring Marimekko and Swedish Hasbeens.



Future vintage 2: Swedish Hasbeens

My next candidate for Future Vintage is Swedish Hasbeens. I'm a fan of clogs, and the colorful clog-inspired creations of this Swedish company had me at hello.

According to the company website, the shoes are handcrafted by artisans in a traditional way in small factories that have made shoes for decades. They claim that the quality is such that the shoes will last for future generations. “Revolutions bring change and we all feel the time has come. The time to throw away the plastic chrome tanned shoes with too much bling-bling and really bad quality. People across the world are demanding quality, natural materials that age great and that our grandkids can wear. Bring on the revolution!” Hyperbole? Perhaps, but their heart is in the right place.

Some of the current offerings (and yes, they do make more traditional and classic colors and styles, but I find these bright models even more lovable):

Please let me know of companies that you believe meet my standards for future vintage: 1. well designed, 2. well made, 3. created by reasonably-paid people working in safe, humane conditions.



Future vintage 1: Marimekko

With an awful lot of cheaply made, poor fitting and/or badly designed clothing available now, I do sometimes wonder what the future's idea of vintage clothing will be. What other than couture fashion will be worth having from the year 2011? Will clothes even make it long enough to be worn in 2031?

I've decided to search out clothing that meets my idea of really worthwhile: 1. well designed, 2. well made, 3. created by reasonably-paid people working in safe, humane conditions.

A label known to vintage collectors is Marimekko, a Finnish company in existence since 1951. Marimekko has always been known for its bright modern prints and clean-lined clothing, and I'm delighted to see that the current designers have carried on these traditions.

Responding to my request for information about the manufacture of Marimekko's clothing, the Communications Coordinator Minttu Kuoppala wrote that Finland is responsible for 36%; more than 80% is manufactured in the EU. Wherever the clothing is made (and some is made in developing countries) responsible sourcing is part of the company's business strategy.

New clothing by Marimekko has my vote for Future Vintage!

Do you have any suggestions for this series? Any favorite labels that meet my 3 requirements? Any individuals making clothing that you believe has a great future as well as a great present?