By Dandy Wellington
I have been a part of the Vintage Community for going on 10 years now. The New York community was introduced to me by my pal Gin Minsky and for the first time, I felt at home amongst a host of fabulously, well dressed weirdos, like myself. A motley crew who seemed to exist on a steady diet of Josephine Baker, classic cocktails and Jazz; who looked to Hedy Lamar, Anna May Wong and Fredi Washington for fashion tips while their toes tapped to the rhythm of Louis Armstrong. These were my people.
Though my vintage life started in New York, I got a better look at the world community through Instagram. It was eye opening. What I saw was a diverse tapestry of cultures and personalities, abilities and perspectives who loved vintage but were not a part of the greater conversation in the community. Excluded from a lifestyle they loved because they didn’t have the “right look”. At the same time, I saw some using their love of vintage to idolize a “simpler time”. Sure, these elements exist in pockets of the New York scene but a wider lens brought the prevalence of these ideas into sharper focus. When you engage with history in a more progressive present, I believe it is crucial to ask whose history hasn’t been told and make space for it. We look to history to see a clearer path to the present and so we can learn from it, not repeat it.
When I first heard the phrase Vintage Style NOT Vintage Values it resonated with me immediately. It seems to sum up all the things I’d felt but couldn’t quite convey. Though the phrase will have slightly different meanings to different people, to me it means this: though my style and my clothes may be old timey, my values and perspective on social issues are not. I am against racism, bigotry, misogyny. I respect the bodies, perspective and choice of women, the disabled, and LGBTQ+ individuals. I acknowledge and respect the original custodians of the land I am living on, the Lenape Native Americans.
This doctrine, mantra, daily affirmation is how I see the potential of this community I love. To be a welcome environment, a glitter covered refuge where we can investigate and learn, appreciate and not appropriate, inspire and be inspired.