Why vintage furniture has become a major trend on Instagram

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  • Vintage furniture has become a major trend in interior design during the pandemic.
  • It is driven by a combination of factors including sustainability and ongoing supply chain issues.
  • In addition, “the pandemic has definitely changed the way people shop,” said the CEO of AptDeco.

Most of the customers who walk into Mike Kollman’s vintage Brooklyn store fit a certain mold: Millennial or older, maybe even homeowners, with steady jobs and healthy paychecks. They’re on the hunt for vintage splashbacks, or they want Kollman to restore their beloved Eames Lounge Chair.

But lately Kollman has started to see new customers coming in – customers in their 20s or 21s who ride a skateboard and are looking for a vintage lamp.

“It’s pretty amazing that they don’t just follow the easier route to Ikea where you can get a lamp for $ 9,” Kollman told Insider.

Kollman’s new customers represent a new wave of Millennials and Gen Zs shunning mass market home decor for vintage items. These types of goods – from second-hand furniture to second-hand artwork, tableware or decor – are flooding social media sites, driven in part by an underground economy of resellers running their businesses on their backs. from Instagram.

But the trend is bigger than the world of Instagram sellers – in fact, it’s the result of a combination of overlapping factors: the focus of younger generations on sustainability, the lingering issues of the retail chain. supplies that make it harder to buy new furniture and a pandemic desire to make our spaces more stylish, or just to make them feel right at home.

All of these factors collided to lead to the latest trend in interior design, which is actually nothing new at all – it’s vintage.

Changing the way people shop

Masked woman walks past moving truck and furniture on the street

Migration out of New York during the pandemic was a boon for AptDeco’s business.

Alexi Rosenfeld / Getty Images


Kollman ran his shop, I love Mike’s Mid Century Modern, since 2009. While selling vintage products, he also restores them, finishing high-end furniture and repairing vintage lighting or clocks.

He describes the world of vintage shops as “a sort of bunch of hippies trying to make a decent living doing something we love to do.” But it also allowed it to be at the forefront of the cyclical nature of interior design trends: for example, people used to go for handmade furniture with a wait time of 12. weeks or more. Then the surge in overseas manufacturing meant customers could get a sofa for $ 300 and quickly. Suddenly, high-quality, more expensive furniture was no longer in vogue.

“I mean, my God, over the last 50 years we’ve been more used to getting whatever we want, when we want it,” he said.

The pandemic, he said, created an opportunity for the cycle to change again.

This change was evident at AptDeco, a 6-year-old online marketplace for second-hand decoration that experienced rapid acceleration in activity during the pandemic. Prior to March 2020, most of the company’s activities were centralized in New York City. But as people started to migrate out of Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Queens, AptDeco grew with them. The company now has operations in Pennsylvania and San Francisco and said it plans to make between 200 and 500 deliveries of furniture and decorations per region, per day in 2021.

Reham Fagiri, co-founder and CEO of AptDeco, told Insider that customers began to turn to its platform for home office furniture early in the pandemic as the supply hampered the furniture industry. These remain unresolved 18 months later, as Mark Schumacher, CEO of the North American Home Furnishings Association, an industry trade group, recently appealed to President Joe Biden directly, calling for relief from “runaway shipping costs” and other supply chain disruptions.

The International Household Goods Association, another industry trade group, warned that the turmoil is likely to last “at least until February 2022”.

This has been a godsend for AptDeco. The platform is similar to Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace in that customers buy products from sellers based on their geographic location, meaning a used office could arrive in your home office within 24 hours. , not several weeks or months. Since as a company we have come to expect a two-day expedition, this immediacy worked to AptDeco’s advantage: during the pandemic, the platform saw an increase of 89% of library sales, a 72% jump in offices and a 76% increase in lighting.

“I think the pandemic has definitely changed the way people shop,” Fagiri said. “It brought a lot more consumers online, it forced retailers at all levels – whether it was furniture or not – to go online, and it really opened up consumers to the idea of ​​doing things. second-hand purchases. ”

“Sinuous, colorful, whimsical” decoration

Vintage, colorful and floral armchairs, to the left, and a white vintage desk with matching chair, to the right

Millennials and Gen Z are drawn to the styles of the 1970s and 1980s when it comes to interior design, according to the CEO of Apartment Therapy.

Esteban Cortez for apartment therapy; Jessica Isaac for apartment therapy


For many buyers, buying used or vintage is more than about immediacy – it’s about sustainability.

A staggering amount of furniture ends up in landfills – around 80%, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. In 2018, 9.68 million tonnes of furniture and home furnishings were sent to landfill, up from 6.55 million tonnes in 2000. Items like rugs and rugs are less likely to be recycled or burnt to produce energy. The EPA found that 73% of carpets go to landfill, which equates to 2.46 million tonnes in 2018.

Fagiri said AptDeco has noticed that it is starting to attract a younger, sustainability-focused consumer base that feels good “to help divert products from landfills.”

“By choosing the occasion, you are actually helping to have a positive impact on the environment,” she said.

For other consumers, however, it’s about creating a space that feels personal to them, especially in a time when we were confined to our own homes. Second-hand decoration has its own history, whether in a theoretical sense or in a more visible physical sense, and it can make a house feel like, well, a house.

On top of that, vintage is simply chic.

Maxwell Ryan, founder and CEO of the lifestyle blog Therapy Apartment, told Insider in an email that he thinks the vintage and second-hand trend is all about creating an “instant style cachet” in your home.

He noticed that the younger generations have developed a real love of vintage, especially the styles of the 1970s and 1980s, which he described as “curvy, colorful, whimsical”.

Combined with sellers who recognized the importance of high-quality photography on platforms like Instagram and easy ways to pay for items through Venmo and Shopify, the vintage movement has taken over.

“The style, value and sense of responsibility of vintage, as well as ‘this is not your parent’s furniture’, is definitely on a roll,” he said. “Pair that with the uniqueness of vintage finds and you’ve got a style movement that seeks its own soul.”



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