Clothing archives from past collections are more than just mere garments. They embody the spirit of the season, the culture behind the piece and most importantly, reflect the designer’s vision in the form of a garment. In short, it’s a time capsule.
From time to time, museums curate fashion designers’ shows, presenting archival looks from luxury houses — all in the name of informing the larger public on the value of the work by some of the greatest names in fashion.
This includes the likes of Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between show at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty show at London’s V&A museum.
While some look to the future for a fresh perspective of fashion, past collections are still sought after. Compare the looks from Balenciaga‘s Spring 2006 collection during Nicolas Ghesquière’s reign and the Balenciaga created by Demna Gvasalia and you’ll see that the contrast is vast.
A change of aesthetic direction typically also changes the brands’ outlook and thus, the demand for its products. Since Phoebe Philo’s departure from Céline, fans of the old Céline have been scouring boutiques and online markets for collections designed during her time.
Some collect solely for wearing because they love the designs while others foresee investment value and potential demand for certain designer pieces. If you’re looking to own a piece from a past collection or an item from a particular season, here’s our selection of fashion archive sites to shop from.
Community driven site Grailed.com offers one of the most extensive resale archive fashion pieces, spanning luxury to street brands. It is also one of the more respected archival resale marketplaces because of its buyer and seller protection policies. Most of the site’s most loyal and frequent buyers are on site to hunt for coveted looks from labels such as Comme des Garçons, Yohji Yamamoto, Takahiromiyashita the soloist and Junya Watanabe. Though some of the pieces are mostly for men, female customers often frequent the site to track down statement outerwear pieces and accessories.
Known for their selection of luxurious vintage jewellery pieces, designer bags as well as preloved luxury clothing, thefifthcollection.com’s curated range is kept in pristine quality and comprise coveted styles. They also boast a collector-worthy rack of designer threads that consists of Chanel, Valentino and Vivienne Westwood. Also, if you are looking at cutting the waiting list for a chance with one of the most coveted Hermès bags from previous collections, look no further.
Established in 2006, founder Kerry Bonnell created archivevintage.com out of her passion for fashion design and vintage clothing. Her training as an editorial and commercial stylist allowed her to transit smoothly into buying and selling archive fashion items. The site has already sold super rare pieces like a Givenchy couture gown by Alexander McQueen and a Jean Paul Gaultier skirt from circa 1990 — keep your eyes peeled while you scroll through the site, you wouldn’t want to miss out on a rare find.
Writer and fashion collector, Gracia is the brainchild behind avant-garde archival site, rosen-store.com. Starting out as a fashion journalist, she shares insights to the world of contemporary dark fashion that consists of highly acclaimed names like Ann Demeulemeester, Rick Owens and Damir Doma. Her handpicked selection of archival pieces available for purchase on the site includes a Balenciaga aviator coat from Fall Winter 2011 and an Issey Miyake Pleats Please cocoon cardigan.
Farfetch.com (Vintage Category)
Who would have thought that this online luxury fashion retail platform actually opened a vintage shopping category? Like the rest of its shopping line-up on site, their vintage designer pages won’t disappoint. With unique pieces from Paco Rabanne and collectable pieces from Japanese designer Kansai Yamamoto (whom rose to the limelight again when Louis Vuitton collaborated with him for their Cruise 2018 collection in Kyoto). We recommend you check the boxes of vintage brand pages of Alaïa, Lanvin and Martin Margiela while you shop for your next investment archive fashion.