Vintage Spotlight: Plaid 70s Wool
I recently returned from the US, where I found a ton of really cool things to add to the shop. Among the massive vintage haul that I managed to secure (quite literally on my back, inside my old USAF duffle bag while I navigated the queues at O'Hare airport) were these two pieces from the 1970s. Sure, they look sort of quiet and unassuming, but they're special, and it is officially my job to tell you why.
The 1970s and early 1980s were probably the last decades that consumers were still able to find and purchase items that were manufactured and sold in-country. At that time, these garments were constructed with an eye to having the customer hold on to them a bit longer than we hold on to our clothes today. At the time of this writing, 3 out of 5 fast fashion pieces purchased will end up in a landfill within a year. I don't want to bog you down with gloomy statistics, but to read more about the fast fashion impact on the way we have come to approach our wardrobes, this article in the New York Times is an excellent summary.
The bottom line is that with outsourced fast fashion having really taken off in the 1990s, there has been a drastic, observable decline in garment quality and durability. For those of us who are old enough to remember the clothes from our childhoods (whassup GenX and beyond) - we may or may not remember the specific brands that we wore "way back then", but if you put one of these 1970s mainstream fashion pieces on, you'll soon be jolted back down memory lane by the very feel of the fabrics. Take for example, these pants, which were actually manufactured my Levis in a capsule collection called their Panatela line. While the fabric content tag is long since lost to the sands of time, I am extremely confident that these pants are a blend of acrylic and lambswool. While they are unlined, they're sturdy and have a properly-constructed, reinforced waistband that creates a really wonderfully tailored-looking, comfortable, flat-front fit. They also have a slight flare to the cuffed hem leg, giving them a modern appeal. When I tried these pants on, they fit better than any pair of modern trousers I've tried in recent memory. So much so that I literally had to have a serious talk with myself about not keeping every single piece I come across. I paired these pants with a puff sleeve Emanuel Ungaro blouse from the 1980s.
This second piece is one of those quiet workhorse pieces that will probably still be around long after we humans have obliterated ourselves with climate change and terrible diets and all other manner of bad behaviour. This is a plaid wool tweedy jacket from 70s brand Barclay Square. This little jacket is well made in the way that you don't even see in a lot of ready to wear higher end designer clothing these days; it feels substantial to hand and keeps its shape (a rarity in fast fashion). This little jacket also has good seam and button reinforcement, and is fully-lined so it slips on and off like a dream. It has a sort of somber, dark academia vibe too; an absolutely evergreen fashion aesthetic. This little jacket will probably last quite literally forever.