For an industry that is always on the pulse of what’s the next big thing and loves to look forward, fashion is feeling rather nostalgic these days. Not that it is a bad thing. The throwback mood sees designers digging deep into their archives, rehashing iconic designs, and reviving lesser-known aspects or codes of the house they represent.
The way the brands utilise these old school motifs in their designs is telling. On one end, their vintage-quality falls into the trend of ironic fashion – the whole movement of is it-or-is-it-not actual designer goods.
But these entrenched design icons from the past is not just a way for designers to romanticise the past – it’s a smart way of marketing a brand’s “best of designs” to the Gen Z and the millennial bunch who might not be familiar with them.
To set the record straight, turning back to the archives for new designs is not a wholly new enterprise. What’s worth noting is the prevalence of these retro redux in 2018.
Earlier this year, Burberry started the ball rolling for this fashion archives reboot in a big way. Its February show, and the last for its long-running chief Creative officer Christopher Bailey – was literally a mash-up collection of former Burberry designs.
There was the historical Burberrys slogan (yeap, it’s not a typo) that was a nod to the way the licensed items from the brand was marked in the ’90s. The vintage crest and the spliced up prints from the past was another way Bailey unleashed his ultimate tribute to a house he has led for 17 years. A series of reissued items from the past were also launched, including a striped cardigan from 1986 and sweaters with the Burberrys crest from 1991.
Echoing this old school logo business is Tommy Hilfiger. For Pre-Fall, the American label who found much success and hype in the ‘80s and ‘90s among the youths and the hip-hop community brought back its house crest from 1985 featuring it prominently on mohair sweaters, T-shirts and bumbags like a badge of honour.
In fact, this isn’t the only outing by the brand this year that plays up its past. Recently the brand’s casual Jeans line also unveiled a tribute collection to its urban roots with an Aaliyah-worthy collection featuring its trademark flag logo last December, and its Fly sneakers from 1997 in May.
Givenchy’s Clare Waight Keller is also responsible for brining back a house icon this year with her S/S ‘18 debut. The 4G logo – the moniker given to this historical four-cornered G emblem – that Monsieur Hubert Givenchy created in 1970.
The design is the hallmark of the GV3 bag line, with the original 4G logo hacked in half to form a clasp. For Pre-fall, though, the full-on 4G logo makes its presence felt as an in-your-face print on sweaters for both him and her.
There is a subtle and more romantic take on this house classics, serving more as a nod to the past. At Dior, the star motifs first seen on a blue twill day dress from its S/S ’52 haute couture show informs the designs of the smocking and lace of five frocks from its Pre-Fall line.
But that discreet archival outing belies the big coming out party for one Dior’s most iconic designs from the John Galliano years. The Saddle bag, which debuted in 1999 on the onset of the It bag phenomenon makes a revival for F/W ’18, in iterations including the vintage Dior monogram, smooth plain calfskin finishes and OTT embellished versions.
At Chanel, its costume jewellery pieces from its current Metiers d’art Paris-Hamburg collection take their cues from the actual pieces which Gabrielle Chanel used to design when she first created costume jewellery in 1924 which included brooches with anchors – perfect for the nautical mood of the Hamburg-themed collection.