Watch CBSN Live

Recycled Fashion

Behind any clothing label, there's someone hunched over a sketch pad, sketching out the next big collection.

But before that happens, many clothing designers go shopping in the past, explains The Saturday Early Show's Megan Meany.

The scene at the Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show, is buzzing with designers, stylists and magazine editors, digging through the decades for something different.

Harper's Bazaar's Mary Alice Stephenson says she looks for a piece that is striking.

"It's that piece that could just be hanging there and it catches your eye, and grabs you," says Stephenson. "You just know you have to have it. "

Vendors who set up shop here know they have to sell one-of-a-kind pieces that can't be found at your average thrift store. They travel the world to hand-pick their goods.

David Ornstein runs the event. He says that each year it attracts more of fashion's A-list.

"Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren, the people from Ralph Lauren come through here," says Ornstein. Designers Catherine Malandrino and Vivienne Tam were among the crowd of throwback connoisseurs.

"You see all different periods, all here," says Tam. "It's, like, really interesting, especially the people that shop here, too. It's really inspiring."

"That's the freedom of designers, to mix different areas and time periods in history," says Malandrino. "There's always something to be inspired from."

Many famous faces have walked out with antique pieces that they reinvent on the runway. Prada and other big-name designers are now making skirts that might cost $30 in a thrift store.

Designer Betsey Johnson was one of the first to sell a vintage look to the mainstream, and she's a lifelong collector. The halls of her Manhattan showroom are filled with a treasure trove of vintage clothes, spanning many eras.

"It's a race," says Johnson. "Designers are now into the race of who is going to get the best piece left, because there aren't very many left."

Johnson considers each article of clothing to be a work of art, and she struggles to recreate the quality of the craftsmanship. "You see these little delicate little edges?" asks Johnson. "There isn't a machine that will do that."

She says many of her ultra-modern designs are direct copies of old pieces.

And, the cyclical nature of fashion has reached a whole new level. Johnson says she is now knocking off her own designs, from earlier years.

The vintage craze is such a force in fashion right now that even mainstream retailers like Victoria's Secret and Burberry are selling vintage clothes in their stores, right next to the ready-to-wear.