In recent years, big names like Prada, Raf Simons, and Gucci have re-examined their past to revive previous seasons’ designs and codes for their contemporary collections. Both a creative and commercial gesture, this not only demonstrates the enduring beauty of fashion, but also how the industry has decided that it is better to be more sustainable than to chase fast-fashion trends. Plus, it helps to recruit a new generation of consumers.
One of the latest is Raf Simons’ Archive Redux, launched in January 2021. Available at Dover Street Market Singapore, the collection is a reissue of 100 pieces charting 25 years of the brand. Standouts include the slogan-print cotton sweatshirt from SS ’02 , and a roll-neck logo-embroidered modal-blend top from FW ’98.
“I had a lot of reactions from young people who wanted pieces, and who were not even born when we were making certain pieces, and I was thinking a lot about access, that it is a pity that we cannot offer them anymore,’ says Simons.
And remember the pussy-bow blouses, pleated skirts and fur loafers that Alessandro Michele introduced at his debut for Gucci in 2015? Some bestsellers, including the floral print silk plisse dresses and pleated leather skirts, have been reissued for the Ouverture collection, which launched late 2020. It marks a new chapter for Gucci as the brand announced that it will go seasonless, bidding farewell to fashion week.
“Time is not relevant. It doesn’t exist when I go back to the flower print red dress or the pussy bow. It’s still beautiful. What I did then is still powerful,” says Michele.
Riccardo Tisci has gone one step further with Burberry’s Future Archive that launched earlier this year, featuring a capsule of modern Burberry signatures inspired by the brand’s rich heritage of outerwear. Tisci reinterpreted classics within the brand’s archive to make the clothes and accessories classic yet modern, timeless and perennial.
Perhaps, the easiest way for brands to make something old new again is with accessories. At Prada’s SS ’21 show, Miuccia Prada debuted the Cleo bag, which is reimagined from the brands’ archival styles. Stuart Vevers reinvented an archival Coach style for Cruise ’21 with the Swinger bag, a nod to the mini-bag moment of the early aughts. Other houses, like Valentino and Celine, have identified iconic themes of the maison: the former with The Stud (which has been around since 2010), evolving to become the new 2021 version, Valentino Garavani Roman Stud; and the latter with the new Celine Tambour bag featuring the Triomphe logo, which Hedi Slimane discovered from the house’s archives.
Of course, this is hardly a new phenomenon. Back in 2017, Mrs Prada revived the SS ’12 flame print and SS ’11 banana motif for a 20-piece capsule collection with MyTheresa. Then there was Donatella Versace’s SS ’18 tribute show to her late brother, with the Warhol-inspired Marilyn dress from 1993, the safety pin dress from 1994, and gold chain mail dresses. It was a massive success, both editorially and commercially – which goes to show that people love something familiar and are always in the mood to be nostalgic.
And it’s not just the luxury labels. Brands like Nike, Levi’s and Fossil have also rereleased their iconic designs, such as the Air Force 1 from the 1990s, jeans from the 1950s and watches from the 1990s respectively.
H&M Studio, which is mainly created from sustainably-sourced materials, believes that its pieces are “designed to be cherished forever.” Incorporating interactivity and social media, consumers were also invited to revisit their favourite pieces from previous Studio collections or style their new-found SS ’21 buys with a previous Studio look.
Bringing back reissues is definitely a strong strategy, especially when iconic pieces are rereleased in limited quantities, which results in much hype. And consumers certainly aren’t complaining, with these designs selling out as soon as they’re available – proof that well-loved designs will never go out of style.
This article first appeared in the March 2021 issue of Her World.