(Re)collecting the past: Fashion, wardrobe, and memory
Babula, Carolyn Jean
Marcus, George E.
Doctor of Philosophy
An ethnographic look at different segments of the vintage clothing and used clothing markets in order to understand the practices of people who sell, purchase, collect, keep, display in museums, and auction used clothes of varying quality and desirability. That the unprecedented popularity and widespread acceptance occurred concomitant with the end of the millennium may not be coincidental. Rather, it may be a manifestation of what might be understood as millennial angst, where people were anxious about the future and needed tangible reminders of their own past or an imagined, ostensibly safer era. Having old clothes that they have saved in their closets or purchasing something similar to what they had in their youths that is either an original vintage piece or a vintage-inspired reproduction is a way for them to find safe haven in pleasant memories and reveries. In this way, collections of clothing that are in a museum, in a fashion designer's seasonal collection, or in one's wardrobe can be seen as repositories of memory where each garment comprises one part of a larger narrative about the past.