Cameron Silver’s first memory of using clothing as an expression of the self is vivid. After Annie Hall hit theatres, Silver, just eight years old, became enthralled with Diane Keaton’s now-revered look. When his parents gave him a fedora, he rolled up the sleeves of a white button-up, donned a pair of slouchy khakis, and swung a tie, loosely knotted, around his neck—still his preferred way to fasten one. The Decades vintage store founder remembers strutting his modish creation down Los Angeles’ Melrose Avenue with his mother, and then being thronged by employees at the renowned Fred Segal store.
“I can still recall the sales associates taking my arm, saying, ‘Look at how cute this kid is! ’ My parents remember that story well; it made me understand the power of clothes. I was expressing myself.” Through dress, Silver recognized that his desire to be exactly who he was—while unironically dressed as someone else—drew people together and instilled a sense of joy in them.
Today, the luxury vintage reseller, celebrity stylist, author, and TV personality continues to think a lot about how people can express themselves through the act of combining textures, patterns, colours, or draping material in unusual ways. But as we sit in the Apartment at Holt Renfrew in Vancouver—where he is to promote his Decades capsule trunk show—Silver makes clear his expanding interest in sustainability. It’s an issue he recognizes as quickly gaining momentum in the fashion industry, yet his outlook isn’t that of simple avoidance behaviour. The perpetual consumption of fast fashion is the problem, even if the factories swear they’re sustainable. “Nothing is sustainable if you only wear it once.”
Silver wants to see more people who are interested in fashion revisit classic looks. “Some of the greatest, most successful luxury brands have very clear DNA that repeats decade after decade. If we can encourage people to buy things with the intention of wearing [them] many times—or celebrate the idea ‘it’s chic to repeat,’—then most of our consumption will be much more sensitive.”
“There’s a lot of interest in how fabrics are sourced, and how things are produced,” he continues, “but to make it easy, when you incorporate more vintage into your life, you are participating in a greener economy. There’s more longevity in your wardrobe.”
You’re also more distinctive. Vancouver is a city with designer stores in every shopping district. So how does one stand out in a sea of Balenciaga sneakers and Hermès bags? “You have to incorporate something from the past,” Silver advises. “It’s not ubiquitous; it’s unusual.” Donning every brand’s current season only displays wealth, not the agility of artful interpretation.
“First and foremost, good design transcends any decade,” Silver says. He’s known for finding rare, decades-old couture items—while still being able to exhaust a non-label suit if it catches his eye. (“One of my favourite suits is from Zara. My tailoring probably costs more than the suit.”) To set himself apart, he’ll pair these basic items with touches of vintage: a pop of colour, a brooch, a textured shirt.
At the Personal Shopping reception in Holt Renfrew, you can make an appointment to view the Decades trunk show, which features items that have been hand-selected. “It’s an accessible, yet aspirational collection of vintage. Including pieces that might be familiar to buyers, like a Chanel jacket. Might be a little nostalgic, like a safety pin on a Versace piece. Or it might induce wonder, like the Jacqueline de Ribes or the Pierre Cardin—and then other names that we revere in fashion, like YSL or [André] Courrèges.”
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