What Is Reworked Vintage Clothing And Why Is It So Popular?


HF Lanzer

vintage reworked clothing

Recycle, Reuse, Rework. The triumvirate of sustainable fashion. To be honest we used to stop quite happily at the first two gold standard ‘Re-s’, believing the recycling and reusing of fashion was more than sufficient for an ecologically-minded way to dress, which of course it still is. We love the idiosyncratic nature afforded by this vintage fashion vibe, which allows for a super cool and individual look, as discussed in How To Have A Unique Fashion Style. But, the times they are a-changin’ and now we’re excited to embrace the next level of one-of-a-kind vintage clothing which everyone is talking about: Reworked Vintage Clothing. 

What is Reworked Vintage Clothing?

First things first. Let’s establish just what this trending reworked vintage clothing malarkey is all about. Well, it won’t come as a surprise to any of our regulars, that reworking material has been with us for decades and decades, in fact, well before vintage clothing developed into a retail sector of its own! Put simply, a reworked piece of vintage clothing means that the item of apparel is:

a) genuine fabric of vintage heritage, see What is Vintage Clothing, and
b) has undergone an intervention, addition, adaptation, reduction or treatment which was not originally present at the time of manufacture.

Magically, as a result of this bespoke process, the end product turns into a reworked vintage item of clothing, which can rightfully claim to be a unique piece of fashion. And that is why this style of clothing is currently trending high.

reworked clothing

Why is Reworked Vintage Clothing So Popular?

Short answer: the popularity of reworked vintage clothing matches that of vintage fashion itself but with that all-important extra bit of unconventional quirkiness added.

These days, we are all striving to become ‘uniquer’ than the next person, and what better way to do this, than to wear a piece of clothing that NO one else will ever replicate and be able to rep beside you? A further boost to the reworked item’s popularity comes from its distinct advantage that you no longer have to shed a tear once you rip those fav jeans or stain that all time number one tee. No, with an open and creative mindset, just look for the reworking solution to any wardrobe mishap! And let’s face it, there’s no lack of inspo online to steer you in the right direction. For example, you can iron or sew a patch over the rip, and design around the unfortunate mark in any manner of ways, to be able to be back on your way in your one and only reworked and thankfully rescued item.

vintage reworked corsets

The Advantages of Reworking Vintage Clothing

Reworking is a win-win for the planet, and a win-win for you in your quest to be YOU! By giving your vintage NikeReebok or Ralph Lauren a surprise twist through reworking it, you will prevent that piece from ending in landfill coz you’ve tired of it, while simultaneously gifting yourself a one-off piece of stunning clothing. Reworking is aligned closely with the need to save those existing but damaged or less than tip-top quality items of clothing – a movement we covered in How to Clean Second Hand Clothes. Reworking vintage clothing is the ideal way to give your items their very own stamp of ‘This Is Me’ personalisation. And all for very little or no cost.

vintage reworked clothing

How To Rework A Vintage Piece of Clothing

OK, so now we need to take a look at the ‘How To’ section of the reworking concept! Once you have sourced your vintage piece(s) of clothing, you can start experimenting with them in any way possible to create your own (very) singular item of clothing. So, you can start to create effective rework projects, for example, you can add fabric features, combine two items to make one, replace one hood on a coat for another or swap any tired buttons on a jacket for feature fasteners. Equally, you can rework an item by removing elements, such as transforming a pair of dungarees into hot-pants by chopping the leg length, cropping a tee, removing sleeves to create a gilet or vest …. the combos are endless!

1. Bleaching/Tie-dying (as simple as bleaching!)

vintage bleached clothing

2. Embroidering

vintage embroidered clothing

3. Piecing (sewing items together, ie two identically shaped sweatshirts)

vintage reworked clothing

4. Combining multiple pieces of clothing to create one garment (ie several sweatshirts to make one pair of shorts/trackies)

vintage reworked clothing

5. Patchwork (ie adding patches of fabric to a vintage piece of clothing)

vintage reworked clothing

    Fav Rework Pieces We’ve Ever Seen

    vintage reworked clothing

    Where To Source Reworked Vintage Clothing

    If DIY reworking isn’t for you and you’re looking to purchase an already-reworked item of vintage clothing, never fear, as there are plenty near! Many online vintage retailers have, or are in the process of adding, a ‘reworked’ section on their site, so keep an eye on the places we covered in Best Online Vintage Stores 2022. In-person markets, garage and kilo sales could well also stock reworked items, as might online marketplaces, such as Depop and Etsy. All theses sources of reworked vintage clothing are also really useful if you are looking for ideas to create your own reworked fashion. Below are some online retailers with collections of reworked vintage apparel:

    1. Glass Onion 
    2. Vintage Club
    3. We Are Cow
    4. Asos Marketplace

    vintage reworked clothing


    Recycle, reuse, rework. Then sit back and relax! There really is no limit to what can be done with the vast array of vintage clothing already in existence. The wealth of pre-loved pants, hoodiestrack tops and crewnecks, to name but a few, has so much potential lurking within each item, that there are possibilities galore for everyone to dress, like nobody else! Whereas earlier vintage threads were and still are able to provide the unique look we all are after, reworked vintage clothing raises the game further: welcome to ‘Unique Plus’.

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