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Instagram of the Week @label.stable vintage clothing brand17

The IG documenting the most absurd and obscure vintage clothing labels

Anxiety Cafe! Tragically Hip! Get A Life!

Most of us who’ve put on a newly purchased top or sweater for the first time have felt that familiar itch behind our necks and instinctively reached for the label. Rarely given a second thought, these woven tabs are often cut out to avoid discomfort or otherwise ignored completely. 

As far as Iris Diane Palma is concerned, though, it’s these inch-square inserts that make each item special – which is exactly what she’s set out to demonstrate via her archival Instagram @label.stable. Varying in shape, size, and colour, the labels featured on the IG date from as far back as the 60s, with the majority within the 80s to early 00s bracket — a time when kitsch, loud colours, and eclectic designs all enjoyed an explosion in popularity, especially when it came to logo designs. 

Scroll through the feed and you’ll be confronted with labels from the likes of Get a Life!, Dainty Hooligan, and Candlelight & Champagne, brands simply (and sometimes inexplicably) named Avocado, Pasta, and Nuggets, as well as more than a few #moods courtesy of Anxiety Cafe, Tragically Hip, and I Need Therapy. Palma, who is the director of visuals at NY boutique The Break by day, finds many of her posts while rummaging through the rails of the city’s numerous thrifting spots. 

“My first memories of vintage were waking up really early with my mom as a child to walk around our San Diego neighbourhood to find garage sales,” Palma recalls. “I wanted to re-create so many of my favorite runway looks but I was a broke 9th grader, so I obviously turned to vintage and thrift shopping. I think I always knew I wanted to dress in my own way and I didn't find those options at contemporary clothing stores.” 

Counting figures including Anna Karina, Françoise Hardy, and Anna Wiazemsky among her style icons, more recently Palma's attention has turned to the 1980s. It was around this time she started archiving her finds on the ‘gram. “Working at The Break I encounter a lot of vintage clothing, and I actually never really paid attention to vintage labels beforehand. I started noticing some really funny, absurd, retro-looking tags so I decided to take photos of them,” she explains. “At first, it just started with texting my friends or putting them on my personal Instagram stories. It wasn't until October 2018 that I decided to start an Instagram for all the tags I documented over the span of a year.” The growth of her account has started to draw an international audience, too: “It's so exciting to receive so many tags from all over the world,” she adds. 

Among the labels on show are ones from the USA, Italy, the Philippines, Jamaica, and France, with the vast majority now defunct – the odd pieces of clothing still in circulation serving now serving as artefacts of a bygone era and highlighting how frighteningly quickly fashion continues to move. With an increased focus on sustainability and conversations surrounding environmental issues finally opening up amongst the industry and consumers alike, Palma hopes @label.stable will not only provide some entertainment during our seemingly never-ending scrolling sessions, but will also reinforce how special vintage clothing can be, and why we should be aiming to reuse and recycle now more than ever – whether the item we dig out has a lols label or not.