“Sentimental value”: it’s an emotional attachment that can be hard to put your finger on, an intimate sense of connection which runs more deeply than an item’s material value. We’ve all had hand-me-down clothes, be they from an older sibling, a parent, or even a grandparent, but they’re not always ones we form a real bond with.
Sentimentality evokes a story, memories, and a past which not many garments have, especially in an age when the fast fashion mindset has increasingly made us view clothes as a disposable quantity. That a piece can even last long enough to collect memories through years of use and love is a testament to the quality of its craftsmanship and to the care which went into making it, principles which carry less weight than ever in the decision-making processes of modern consumers.
With that in mind, this Cherwell Fashion photo editorial focusses on pieces which have withstood the test of time and served multiple generations. “Inheritance” connotes an innate value and the continuation of a certain spirit, something all of these garments represent.
Femke wears an outfit entirely handmade by her grandmother, featuring a baggy dropped-shoulder jumper and a skirt with matching headband. She was given them when her grandparents moved house. “My grandma had such a hard time getting rid of her old things because they remind her so much of the past and happy memories”, she says. “I really like vintage clothes and although my family always teases me for my odd style, I think my grandma loves the fact that not all her old clothes went to a charity shop; she was a very fashionable women back in her day, and she cared a lot for her clothes. However, during the first years of their marriage my grandparents really didn’t have a lot of money, so my grandma would take inspiration from fashion magazines and sew her clothes herself.”
That the pieces have held up throughout the decades is self-evident, and their timeless style wouldn’t look at all out of place in a modern shop window.
Darcy wears a vintage corduroy coat handed down to her by her mother and steeped in memories and associations. For Darcy, “it makes me think of what my mum was like when she was younger, too! Almost like I’m being a part of her younger self”. Her mum purchased it in the late 80’s and wore it to university decades before Darcy would do the same.
The coat was made by Next, albeit years before it would become the fast fashion titan we now know it as; it’s hard to imagine the same brand producing something like this today. “Corduroy these days is made so badly, but the quality on this is incredible…no labels look like this now!” The simplistic elegance of the brand’s old logo is a far cry from that dully homogenous one we now recognise.
Clare’s skirt is a vintage Liberty piece of her mother’s. “She wore it to her best friend’s wedding as a bridesmaid. I got it repaired and wear it all the time now!”. The story behind the piece is a reminder that we don’t have to throw clothes away the moment they get damaged; a quality garment can have new life breathed into it again and again if repaired correctly.
Clothes needn’t and shouldn’t be regarded as disposable, but as something to be cherished and with which to form a lasting relationship. These pieces and the generational memories they carry are proof of that fact.
Models: Femke Vulto, Darcy Dixon, Clare St. George
Photography and words: Alec Holt