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The 4 most important vintage textile design trends for 2021 (and beyond)

Updated: Sep 15, 2021

Words by Erin, Digital Design Media Manager.

The word, vintage has been thrown about in fashion for years now, so it’s no surprise that 2021 brings with it a bevy of new-old trends. “We’ve seen this sense of nostalgia return to fashion,” says creative director, Rebecca. “But since Covid hit and the entire world’s way of living has shifted irrevocably, there will be an even more intense desire to find the fun, whimsy and joy of the past in our clothing.”

If, like this writer, you’re over the age of 30, then you’ll be thinking, whoa, which part of the past are we talking about exactly, because I’ve seen a fair few trends appear over the decades. And I’ve loved a lot of looks I’d rather not revive!

Well, brace yourself. There are some expected and verrrry unexpected trends here. But Rebecca’s got your back. Scroll down to learn how to make each one feel fresh and new yet fondly familiar.


Of course, the Scotts did it first. Tartan has been worn by Highlanders for hundreds of years, but in terms of fashion, it was the safety-pinned punk era that re-birthed the check into the edgy, ‘fringe’ trend textile we know today.  And the good news is, winter will bring back the It factor, replicating these rich dark tartans of the 1980s. Rebecca says you can expect to see them in “long-line pleated skirts, mini princess lines, or oversized shirts that are more 90’s.” Houndstooth, another vintage-style check will continue for winter, she adds.

Rebecca compiles seasonal trend reports for our internal designers (which stretch waaaaay beyond 2021) and this is how we keep our collection on the leading edge of fashion. If you’d like in on these insights from Rebecca, then subscribe to one of our four Trend Report Subscriptions, starting from $33.25 per month.

Come summer checks will be shown in more neutral colourations, with pale tones and monochromatic plaids to round out the offering.  In a nod to nineties style, we’ll also see head-to-toe dressing in shirts and trousers plus gingham mixed back with stripes, ruffles or ditsys “for that cottage core feel.”

Youthful street fashion has interpreted 2000’s checks very literally, with “scoop neck bias dresses, spaghetti straps and rouching or sherring styles key,” Rebecca says.


For inspiration on this re-interpretation of 80’s darks, look to Miu Miu’s pre fall 2020 collection. It “shows a lovely sense of the past styled with modern accessories,” Rebecca says. Planning on a summer check?  “A fun accent colour will [pop against neutrals and] bring in the newness, ” says Rebecca. But generally, she says, you can’t go wrong with a check design. “There is no wrong way to create or produce a check. Any plaid goes, from gingham to madras to tartan to Prince of Wales check, houndstooth and Glen plaid, it’s all acceptable.” So go nuts!


Tie dye takes us back to every era, starting in the 60s and making an appearance at least once every decade since.  “The trick to making tie dyes modern, is to make them look Noughties!” Rebecca exclaims. Gone are the rainbow brights and 70’s interpretations, we will see more pastel and unfaded looks moving forward.

Christian Dior has taken us down a more organic path for both spring summer and pre-summer, with natural dyes being key to a more sustainable and ethical future. As a result, Rebecca predicts “we will see vegetable and flower dyes in these more neutral colourations.”

Tie dye is lending itself to every market, she says, from swim and activewear, loungewear and sleep, youth and missy fashion.  Menswear and kidswear and even homewares are subjected to this easy to produce print.  You’ll see jeans, shorts and tank tops produced in tie dye for the youth market, while full length summer dresses will hit stores for the missy market.  Denim gets a big update with natural dying too.


Brights are out, naturals are in. “It’s a very youthful interpretion, we saw it at Ulla Johnson’s latest pre-summer show.” Check out The Creative Elements for some ready-made tie-dye textures.


When we think back to our childhoods, they are filled with joy and wonder.  The 1990’s obsession with Carebears and unicorns, teddy bears and whimsical conversationals is starting to resurface.  “Anything that makes us feel warm and fuzzy, is going to fly,” Rebecca says.

In 2001, our very own studio drew and painted teddy bears in all sorts of poses and situations. “The bear was the king of intimates and sleepwear,” Rebecca recalls.  Well, its starting to pop back up in the corners of our consciousness. “We’re seeing street fashion reviving vintage tees with all kinds of positive happy 90’s/2000’s slogans and images.”


At this stage its very fringe, Rebecca says, so the key is to make it literal. “Eventually we’ll see a more muted take on the noughties conversationals.”


Rainbow swirls and marble effects have been reemerging, but this time around they take on some new looks. “Due to digital printing, which of course did not exist in the 70’s, we can now apply computer effects to our swirls and shapes,” Rebecca says.  “Activewear will see some fun ‘acid’ prints while a very noughties swirl pattern is popping up in street fashion the world over.”  So what types of apparel are getting the trippy treatment?  “It’s printed trousers and jeans, bias cut dresses and high-necked body suits.  It’s all taking us back to Paris Hilton days!” she says, believe it or not.


“It’s not a massively commercial trend, so be aware of the customer that will buy it,” Rebecca advises. “Swim and activewear are a safe bet, and if you’re going into apparel with it, keep it super youthful and cool.”


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