People Of The Year: Dianne Ludwig Weighs In On What's Next For Vintage Fashion

A growing appreciation for NZ vintage, and focus on suitability and history are in focus for 2022

Dianne Ludwig. Photo / Babiche Martens

Vintage seller Dianne Ludwig has had a big year. Her hand-picked pieces, many from local designers past and present, posted to her popular Instagram account (@Welcomeback_slowfashion) are quickly snapped up. She also uses her platform to educate her followers about the value — physical and cultural — of clothes.

Things have taken off in 2021, but not in any planned way, she says. “My focus is just on honouring the clothes and telling fashion stories, and I think this has resonated with a lot of people,” Dianne explains. “Getting to connect with so many other New Zealanders who are equally as interested in our fashion history and stories.”

Her work has been shared widely, including in Viva, and the Welcome Back Slow Fashion community has grown considerably. “I've had a lot of media, which I am so grateful for as it's connected me with so many like-minded people whose stories I love, and also opened wardrobe doors to some amazing vintage collections.”

This year, she’s been able to source more vintage directly from original owners and families, who want garments to go to a good home. "Being entrusted to do this has been wonderful and my clients love knowing the backstories and taking on a guardianship role."

READ: Learn How To Care For Your Vintage Garments With These Tips From An Expert

The role of caretaker is a responsibility she’s trying to normalise. “I want to be part of changing the relationship we have with our clothes; how a garment has been constructed, the history of its makers and its owners, how to care for it — all this knowledge draws us closer to our clothes.”

These history lessons — delving into the stories of local manufacturers and designers, and seeking out knowledge before it is lost — have shaped Welcome Back Slow Fashion’s point of difference in a booming resale market.

Alongside the likes of NZ Fashion Museum, Dianne is part of the conversation to change how local vintage clothing is perceived, and share its background. She thinks there is more respect now for New Zealand vintage. “A new generation are learning about our fashion history and are becoming much more savvy about which vintage labels to look out for.”

Trends are beginning to matter less, she says, even when it comes to vintage. “[People are wanting] simply beautiful vintage pieces, regardless of if they are on featuring in current fashion,” Dianne explains. “This aligns with a growing appreciation of vintage; people wanting to know the history of a label or sharing an early fashion memory.”

“It's probably cooler now to share that piece your gran gave you that she wore in the 80s, or you owned yourself.” Pieces from that decade are popular right now; colour, bold prints, big shoulders, are all back — so too are ruffles and Princess Dianna looks.

Nostalgia has been pivotal in 2021, shaping new fashion, and bolstering the popularity of vintage. “More people are taking comfort in nostalgia,” says Dianne. “Wearing vintage used to very niche, now more people of all ages are seeking it out to combine into their wardrobes.”

“Of course, it always helps that fashion designers are referencing vintage trends, but it's also much more than that. People see it as sustainable choice, and value the authenticity and the stories that come with a vintage piece, it gives them a deeper connection to their clothing.”

Also changing is the awareness of a garment's life cycle. “More and more people ask me how to responsibly dispose of, or upcycle, clothing they are no longer wearing — or if I can rehome it for them,” she says. “It shows they are taking on the closing of the loop that the fashion industry has yet to do.”

2021 has seen many people reassess the way they shop — what they buy, how much of it, and where from. Dianne believes the New Zealanders are ready to get off the endless consumption cycle.

“They want to simplify, buy better but less, and also have more confidence to experiment with fashion in a responsible way,” she says. “Fast fashion has relied on us having a fleeting relationship with our purchases, and endless churn. So it's about reversing that.”

READ: Resale, Renting, Vintage, Community": What Stella McCartney Dreams For Fashion

This shift in approach, increasingly leads people to vintage and pre-loved garments. “The more you get to know a piece and its history the more likely you are to see it as a friend you want to keep, mend, or pass on lovingly to its next owner.”

Looking ahead to 2022, Dianne wants to focus even more on knowledge sharing, community and circularity. “Next year I would love to run some mending workshops or even just sessions where people come together to work on their own mending, remaking and share techniques,” she says.

“I lost count of how many people tell me they love wearing their mended clothes. I remain hopeful that fashion sustainability for the wider industry will follow. Got to have hope,” say says. “We need a healthy local fashion industry, telling our stories and creating tomorrow's vintage.”

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