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10 Jun

How to Switch from Fast Fashion to Vintage on Instagram

Avoiding the pull of fast fashion is harder than most care to admit. It’s on-trend, it’s cheap, it’s convenient and it sends our happy hormones through the roof for at least an hour post-shop. As a former fast-fashion addict, I know all about it, but there’s never been a better time to replace our consumer habits with more sustainable ones.

For the uninitiated, the sheer number of Instagram’s vintage and secondhand sellers is daunting, so as a vintage evangelist I’m always trying to think of ways to help guide people in the right direction.

If we consider why fast fashion has such a hold on the masses, it boils down to more than just bargains. After all, op shops can compete on that front. Rather, mass exposure and consistent branding means the big stores offer a safety net; once you get to know your style, you know exactly where to buy it. So with this in mind, I’ve designed a guide that matches the aesthetics of big-name stores with the edits of little-known sellers. Read on to find out who’s got your style sussed on Instagram.

TopShop, Urban Outfitters


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Une publication partagée par WAYWARD COLLECTION (@waywardcollection) le

Style: Trendy

Icon: Alexa Chung

Dream Label: Riccardo Tisci at Burberry

The trendiest look at the moment is 90s throwback so why not get the real thing? And I don’t mean 90s Topshop, I mean 90s designer. @LadyofLizard is known for her 90s labels and her daring, delightfully off-kilter aesthetic is the kind of vibe that corporate giants can only dream of contriving. @Thiefislandvintage presents a real mix of quirky early 20th century pieces that might come straight out of Alexa Chung’s wardrobe. Just add chunky boots. @Sugarviolette is not for the shy and retiring; its stock is generally gobsmacking to behold. From a 1920s crepe paper dress to a Moschino mini-skirt embellished with fluffy clouds, it sits on the other end of the scale from the racks of same-same ditsy dresses to be found in the city. Philadelphia-based @Waywardcollection boasts a dreamy feed and manages a consistent style across its well-curated edit, despite the wide span of decades.

Lover the Label, Ghost, Free People


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Une publication partagée par Devore Vintage (@devorevintage) le

Style: Pretty/Romantic/Bohemian

Icon: Stevie Nicks

Dream Label: Rodarte

Anyone with a bohemian vibe is very well catered for when it comes to vintage. I’m talking beyond ethereal, from delicate Edwardian lace to 70s Laura Ashley. Melbourne’s @Devorevintage does it so well with Prairie styles, 1900s silk tassel shawls and hand-embroidered smocked Hungarian blouses. Pretty is the word at @Shopgossamer, and @Esmesdrawertoo is all slinky silk camis and romantic frills with a little labelled suiting on the side. @Blossomvintage punctuates pretty with antique accessories and New York’s @Eveliinavintage is diaphanous to the extreme, sun shining through its racks of candy coloured gowns.

Gap, Uniqlo, J.Crew


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Une publication partagée par Paloma Vintage (@paloma_vintage_copenhagen) le

Style: Preppy/Classic

Icon: Ali Macgraw

Dream Label: Ralph Lauren

In my experience, Breton-striped people tend to avoid secondhand because the whites aren’t white enough. Those people should follow @Paloma_vintage_copenhagen – as clean as you would expect from a Danish store and yet so much more. For the traditional Americano take on preppy, find vintage sports memorabilia at Brooklyn-based @RaggedyThreads. Vintage denim is more classic than modern will ever be, and there are plenty available across Instagram’s sellers. And if you want your Air Jordans authentically ‘worn’, go no further than @Goodbyeheartvintage, which also boasts some amazing bomber and leather jackets plus “your dad’s old pocket tees” in the most scrumptious array of soft cotton colours.

Guess, Missguided, NastyGal


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Une publication partagée par Hunters & Collectors (@gypsynationvintage) le

Style: Sexy-Sporty

Icon: Lady Gaga

Dream Label: D&G, Versace

Dolly Parton once said: “It costs a lot of money to look this cheap.” It’s exactly the opposite case if you shop vintage for your sexy look. I mean, @Back__room posted an Azzedine Alaia bandage dress virtually identical to the one worn by Alicia Silverstone in iconic 90s movie Clueless. As for LA-based @Shopworshipla, all I’m saying is 80s gold leather tracksuit. Or, at @Gypsynationvintage find skin-tight black and white leopard print jeans and teeny-tiny tartan hotpants that wouldn’t look amiss on the rear of Gwen Stefani.

H&M, Mango, Massimo Dutti


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Une publication partagée par GOLDEN THREADS (@goldenthreadsvintage) le

Style: Understated Modern

Icon: Cate Blanchett

Dream Label: Jil Sander

If you consider yourself too modern for vintage, think again. Modern is built on the foundation of archives, and in my opinion no era has done modern – or understated – better than the last mid-century. Even Gap advertised its skinny black pant of 2007 with a mash-up of Audrey Hepburn dancing in the film Funny Face circa 1957. @Goldenthreadsvintage has a relatively pared back bent with wide-leg silk pants a fave, and in between the wilder items are linen separates and classic suiting. A key phrase to look out for is “finely curated”, and once again @Paloma_vintage_copenhagen comes up trumps on this front. @Hall_of_wonders manages to collect pieces from every decade and combine them as cohesively as if they belonged to one fashion house. Think Tilda Swinton in I Am Love.



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Une publication partagée par Back Room Vintage (@back__room) le

Style: Maximalist

Icon: Iris Apfel

Dream Label: Gucci

Since this describes my personal style, I can vouch there is an inundation of shopping options for us on Instagram and it takes all my willpower to refrain from DM-ing for every single one of them. It’s the maximalist way. You crave Issey Miyake fur shorts and a Memphis-style silk top from the 1980s? @Mercyvintage has both. Or camp it up better than any at the Met Gala in a @JamesVeloria outfit. Head to @Back__room for lamé, studs and sequins, and @LuckyVintageSeattle for sunshine bright and super-fun styling of mostly 60s-90s (rainbow silk lurex, anyone?). From the kooky to the downright extraordinary, @StrangeDesires_ will provide extreme entertainment on your feed.



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Une publication partagée par ESTHER ARCHIVES (@estherarchives) le

Style: Label Queen

Icon: Kim Kardashian

Dream Label: All of them

If you’ve a Champagne taste then get yourself onto @Estherarchives and relieve the shop of its “best 90s and 2000s fashion archives”. An excessive array of Prada, Fendi, Pucci, vintage Gucci and … er… more Prada awaits. It is based in Paris after all (yes, you can go vintage designer shopping in Paris in your PJs). @New_found is a studio open by appointment, which is a good start, kudos wise. It stocks a heightened curation that combines 90s John Galliano and Christian Dior silk organza with a 20s pongee silk robe. The Melrose Avenue location of @ScoutLA explains some of its allure. The posts are endearingly nonchalant and minimally captioned for a perfect Beverley Hills attitude of ‘who cares which designer so long as it’s fabulous’.

I try not to have favourites but for sheer palpitating-heart effect look at Arizona-based @Desertvintage. It’s less flashy-designer but along with uber-elegant pieces you’ll find such gems as a drapey white Lacroix jumpsuit and spectacular vintage Yves Saint Laurent.


We recommend buying second hand, either from your local second-hand shops or from apps and websites like Depop, Farfetch (who now has a “Pre-Owned” section) or Vestiaire Collective, where you can find some amazing pieces in mint condition! You can learn more about second hand shopping with our guide on where to buy second hand clothing to help you find your next vintage treasure in person or online.


About the author: Joanne Gambale is a sustainable stylist who specialises in vintage and pre-loved wardrobes for her busy clients. She has worked in the Vogue offices for 13 years and still writes for Vogue Living and Vogue, focusing on sustainable fashion. As a freelancer she juggles (or doesn’t) being a mum with her ‘Slogue’ personal styling service, running workshops on op-shopping and blogging about it all on her website and Instagram @joannegambale.

Editor's note

Feature image via Unsplash. All other images via the Instagram accounts mentioned. Good On You publishes the world's most comprehensive ratings of fashion brands’ impact on people, the planet and animals. Use the Directory to search more than 2,500 brands. To support our work, we may earn a commission on sales made using our offer codes or affiliate links.

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