The 8 Best Vintage Designer Brands

Best Vintage Designer Brands
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In a world where it's easy to get caught up in current trends and feel like you dress the same as everyone else, going vintage is a great way to stand out from the crowd. Vintage fashion is in high demand and short supply, meaning you’re likely to be the only person for miles around wearing that Balmain gown or YSL jumpsuit.

Whether it’s an investment piece that’s only going to get more valuable with time or a bargain you can’t resist, the advice is to just go ahead and grab it! Vintage garments can be incredibly rare, so you might only get one chance to add them to your collection.

As part of our luxury Lifestyle blog series, we’re exploring some of the most sought-after vintage brands available today, chosen because of their high-quality craftsmanship, beautiful fabrics, and unique design.


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Best Vintage Designer Brands

1. Yves Saint Laurent

Yves Saint Laurent's incredible talent was first spotted by none other than Christian Dior. By age 21, Laurent had become Dior’s head designer and by 1962, when he was just 26, he had started the YSL brand. Almost immediately, YSL started designing clothes that would be considered revolutionary in the world of fashion. Notable pieces include the Reefer Jacket, the Le Smoking women’s jacket, and the YSL jumpsuit.

The Yves Saint Laurent logo is now synonymous with luxury fashion. The brand has remained highly desirable even after Yves Saint Laurent passed away, but the pieces designed by the man himself remain highly collectable.

If you're after a classic piece of YSL that will hold its value and prove to be a go-to jacket in your rotation, you can pick up a Rive Gauche jacket for around £1,300. Vintage YSL is lauded for its premium quality and wearability, making it a go-to for many fashionistas.

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2. Christian Dior

Christian Dior is regarded as one of the greatest fashion designers in history. His vintage "new look" silhouette has been endlessly reinterpreted, so it's no wonder people want to get their hands on the pieces that started a worldwide movement.

Original couture pieces sell for extravagant prices on the pre-loved market, but there are good bargains to be found in the non-couture Dior London or Dior New York labels of the era. As he headed the house of Dior for such a short amount of time before his death in 1957, pieces designed by Christian Dior are hard to come by.

Dior is renowned for manufacturing quality clothing and the exclusivity of its pieces only embellishes how coveted the brand is. Some vintage Dior dresses will today fetch prices of £10,000 - a testament to the brand's longevity.

If you're adding to a men's vintage collection, look out for Dior Homme pieces designed by Marc Bohan.

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3. Oscar de la Renta

Dominican fashion designer Oscar de la Renta's career spanned nearly 5 decades. At the helm of his fashion house, de la Renta made his name by creating pieces that were always distinctly modern, yet they also possessed a romantic, feminine quality, reflecting his grounding in both American sportswear and European couture.

Consistent elements of his collections include a vibrant colour palette, delicate silk prints, the use of ruffles, and soft silhouettes. He’s maybe best known for his evening wear and suits for women, which over the years became wardrobe staples for his faithful clientele.

There's a range of vintage Oscar de la Renta pieces online, varying in price and era. His earliest boutique pieces would've been personally overseen by him, so if you manage to get your hands on one of those items, chances are he held every dress produced and inspected every minute detail.

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4. Chanel

Vintage Chanel garments never seem to go out of style. The timeless tweed jackets that we all know of fetch a high price due to their iconic status in the fashion community. The Chanel jacket is not the only iconic vintage item - haute couture, formal wear, and Chanel accessories are just as sought-after by vintage collectors.

Before Coco Chanel, the little black dress was reserved for mourning, but after her design hit Vogue in 1926, Chanel’s dress became a symbol for a woman with taste, even inspiring Audrey Hepburn's Breakfast at Tiffany's LBD.

For a vintage 3-piece Chanel suit like the kind famously worn by Claudia Schiffer in the 1995 Spring/Summer campaign, you’d have to be willing to part with around £10,000.

However, there are plenty of gorgeous vintage gems from the French fashion house for less. With the recent price increase of modern Chanel collections leaving many feeling like the brand is out of reach, items over 20 years old are a great way to get ahold of something you love without breaking the bank. 

Buying vintage Chanel can be risky. There are many replica items in circulation, so it’s best to use a reputable seller or consignment who has good feedback, an authentication service, and offers returns if you are not completely satisfied.

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5. Pierre Balmain

The house of Balmain has been worn by some of the most glamorous women of all time: Ava Gardner, Brigitte Bardot, Katherine Hepburn, Marlene Dietrich, and Sophia Loren were all Balmain clients thanks to the vivacity and elegance that encapsulated his designs.

Balmain's style became known as ‘Jolie Madame’ for its unparalleled appeal to celebrity starlets and royalty alike. To Pierre Balmain, art was the most important thing, without restriction. His fantasy works were designed and made just how he wanted them - items were hand-dyed and beading was done by hand. The colours of the fabric, lining and trim had to match perfectly. There was a meticulous attention to detail and quality that makes items from his collections so valuable today.

No matter what piece you come across, be it a sweeping evening gown or a sharply-tailored day suit, it'll be a worthwhile collectable. Early pieces and gowns are hard to come by, so if you see one you better snap it up.

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6. Comme Des Garçons

The iconic Japanese fashion house that is always abstract and never follows the status quo? Must be Comme des Garçons. It's one of the most expressive brands of a generation, with collectors scrambling to get their hands on avant-garde designs including the weird and wonderful 90s Lumps and Bumps line dresses, men's silk kilts, and highly graphic Optical Shock shirts.

The newest brand in this list of designers to add to your vintage collection, Comme des Garcon are known for their innovative design, with pieces designed by Rei Kawakubo and Junya Watanabe now worth thousands of pounds.

Additionally, CdG has put its name to a number of significant collaborations, like the CdG Play x Converse trainers that see the iconic heart eyes logo adorned on the shoes.

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7. Paco Rabanne

Paco Rabanne was known as l'enfant terrible in the 1960s fashion world. Clever and unconventional. After working for Balenciaga, Cardin, Givenchy, and Dior he showcased his collection of ‘Twelve Unwearable Dresses in Contemporary Materials’.

With his motto, ‘don't seduce, shock’ always in mind, Rabanne’s futuristic collections became the must-have outfits of celebrities such as French pop idol Francoise Hardy and Audrey Hepburn.

On your hunt for the perfect vintage Paco Rabanne item, expect to find chainmail dresses and handbags made of metal, plexiglass, coated paper or plastic and usually stitched with hooks, rivets and pliers.

The chainmail dresses and tunics are his signature, which is why they’re the rarest and most expensive find. A 1968 chainmail dress recently sold for over £12,000. If that’s over budget, don’t fret! There are plenty of unconventional vintage Paco Rabanne dresses to choose from for a few hundred pounds.

Rabanne's famous dresses are some of the most coveted pieces from the 60s and 70s, so if you find anything from those decades, they’re worth paying a pretty penny for.

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8. Jean Paul Gaultier

Jean Paul Gaultier first founded his label in 1976 with a focus on bold prints and subverting gender stereotypes. His fine mesh clothes and prints featuring anything from classical art to Op art are high up on collectors’ wishlists.

There has even been a big Gaultier revival in the celebrity world over the last couple of years, with celebrities like Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner scrambling to get their hands on 90s and noughties JPG pieces.

Look out for standout matching sets as seen on Kendall Jenner, or for something more affordable, opt for Jean Paul Gaultier Jeans – the brand’s diffusion line that was behind the denim crop top, held together with safety pins, worn by Bella Hadid in 2020.

Gaultier’s famous bustiers and cage pieces are also dream items for any vintage JPG obsessive – that’s why they tend to come with a much higher price tag (around £2,000 for a corset). They’re instantly recognisable, and the prices keep climbing, with many collectors choosing to invest now rather than wait.

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If you want to own a piece of fashion history, you can't do any better than these iconic designer brands - whether you want every day to be a catwalk in your three-piece Chanel tweed suit or you want to preserve a crazy bold dress from Comme Des Garçon until it inevitably increases in value.

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For more luxury inspiration, discover Slingo’s lifestyle news or check out these blogs:

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FAQs about Vintage Clothing

What is considered vintage for designer clothing?

A generally accepted industry standard is that items made between 20 and 100 years ago are considered vintage. Pieces older than 100 years are considered antiques.

Why is vintage clothing trending?

People are becoming more aware of the damages of fast fashion, so they are opting for vintage brands and other pre-loved clothing. Vintage clothes are a great eco-friendly alternative to fast fashion while still maintaining an element of luxury. As vintage clothing is at least 20 years old, it also shows the garments are made to last, not just last a few wears.

Are vintage clothes a good investment?

Yes, but you have to look out for the right pieces. The most valuable vintage clothes are collector’s items, items that are no longer being manufactured, and items that are well-made. They have to stand the test of time when it comes to wear and brand popularity.

If you're buying with the intention of keeping a vintage item until its value increases to then resell, you need to ensure that it's stored properly. If the piece is damaged, then its value will decrease.

 


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