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When fashion archives fill the red carpet, who wins?

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Archival fashion is hotter than ever thanks to high-profile celebrity pulls, like Zendaya’s jaw-dropping Autumn/Winter 1995 Thierry Mugler robot suit for the Dune: Part Two premiere and Kendall Jenner’s Givenchy AW99 gown, designed by Alexander McQueen, at the 2024 Met Gala. Following Miley Cyrus’s beaded Bob Mackie dress at the Grammys, The RealReal saw a 150 per cent increase in searches for the designer.

However, those flames may not be reaching vintage sellers who have curated their collections for years — and who stylists turn to in order to source these pieces. According to the sellers that run both digital and brick-and-mortar businesses, and experts within the secondhand market, budgets are being squeezed and more brands are making moves to bring their archives in-house.

Zendaya’s AW95 Thierry Mugler robot suit for the Dune: Part Two premiere, and Miley Cyrus’s Bob Mackie dress at the Grammys.

Photos: Joe Maher/Getty Images, Timothy Norris/FilmMagic

Millie Adams, founder of Studded Petals Vintage, has seven years of experience selling unique designer finds to high-profile clients including Dua Lipa, Bella Hadid and Addison Rae. Adams believes the archival boom has, thus far, had an overall positive effect on her small business, leading to an increase in stylists approaching her. Yet, she has experienced a rise in recent months of celebrity stylists offering payment in the form of exposure, instead of purchasing or renting garments for their clients as they usually would. “I’m still surprised every time I hear a celebrity stylist tell me they don’t have any budget for clothing loans,” says Adams.

Mark Baylis, owner of Inner Sanctum Vintage, has been a staple of London’s Portobello Road Market scene for over four decades. Baylis says he’s also dealing with stylists’ strains. “They don’t have the same understanding of the business anymore, or the budgets, so I tend to avoid them.” Baylis primarily sells to fashion houses and dedicated collectors instead, but acknowledges that not all sellers have that ability, as many rely on stylist pulls to raise their profiles.

According to London-based stylist Michael Miller, the budget issue ultimately stems from the studios and streamers who hire him to dress their client. “[They] don’t even give me enough budget to pay myself fairly,” he says. Miller, who has styled Jared Leto, Nicholas Galitzine and Louisa Harland, continued to say that hiring or purchasing vintage pieces therefore doesn’t cross his mind. “Those that can are in a very privileged position to do so.”

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