Fashion archiving—which sounds like the most unbelievably banal job description—is a proclivity perfectly matched to the Instagram platform. But reviving decades-old fashion gems isn't purely an aesthetic, social exercise. Done right, it's borderline scholarly. The best, rarest finds contextualize and bind today's trends into a cohesive dialogue with the past. They decode homages, pay tribute to fearless originators, and feed your brain with an endless stream of sartorial candy. In the simplest terms, they explore why style matters. Here are five of our favorites.
1. The modernist: @c__l__o
While London-based Lauren Faye's account does throw it back from time to time, its most magical quality is in its ability to find timeless moments that are happening in style right now. She has an unusually consistent eye for subtle luxury, elegant monochrome, and really fucking fantastic shoes. Her Instagram is the best place I've found to drool over all three.
2. The streetwear fetishist: @tagsandthreads
Tags and Threads is pretty new to the Instagram archive game, with less than 300 posts and 2,000 followers. But they've come in extremely strong. Their account specializes in late-'80s, early-'90s streetwear and sport ephemera, everything from old Calvin Klein ads to rare Mariah Carey merch. It's not shoppable, but it's a solid crash course for anyone trying to understand the DNA of streetwear today.
3. The found artist: @alanamayjohnson
Alana May Johnson's Instagram bio reads simply, "librarian," which makes sense, as long as you keep in mind that she works at the digital, sartorial equivalent of Borges' "Library of Babel." Her Instagram extends into all directions. It's decontextualized, caption-less, and utterly delightful. There are no lines drawn between past and present, commercial and editorial. For fans of color, design, and style oddities, it's a Willy Wonka-level world of imagination.
4. The pop culture academic: @gabriel_held
I know, I know, we've written about Gabriel Held's Instagram account many times before, but for fans of the bizarre world of kitschy celebrity fashion, there's really no better resource. Held cherishes and sanctifies everything over-the-top. If his account is a temple, we're praying at the altar of Y2K-era Lil' Kim. It's truly bewildering how he continues to find hundreds of images we've never seen before, but he manages to do it—every. damn. day.
5. The brick-and-mortar: @maryam_nassir_zadeh
In addition to designing objectively perfect shoes and running an inviting little storefront on the Lower East Side, Maryam Nassir Zadeh also happens to have one of the most popping fashion archive Instagrams around. If you love throwback glamour (think: white crepe against skin tanned by the sun in Capri), shades of pastel, and don't mind scrolling through photos of Zadeh's adorable children and ultra-covetable lifestyle, then this is your new home. It's always worth a look, especially when your own life is feeling devoid of magic.