Vintage Clothes 1 What is Vintage Fashion Today on the Internet?
By Pauline Weston Thomas for Fashion-Era.com
What is Vintage Fashion?
The first three pages in this section are to get you
thinking about what might be involved in buying or selling vintage clothing.
Reading around the subject is essential and should include both
costume knowledge, and vintage/antique understanding. My opinion of
this subject is just that - my opinion. Nothing is set in stone with
selling or buying antique clothing.
Try to absorb exactly what work is involved preparing your antique clothing before you
begin visualizing yourself as both buyer or seller and what might be
expected in your transactions. It is far more demanding if done
properly and with a professional approach than most beginners imagine.
A real love for the fashion garments will be your best asset, rather than being obsessed with bargains.
If you plan to resell remember a bargain is only a bargain long term if it is what a future buyer wants.
People are constantly querying what exactly are
vintage clothes. There's no doubt that whether or not an
item is Vintage is in the eye of the beholder. Essentially it must
belong to another era, and most usually because of limited supply,
a particular 18th, 19th or 20th century
decade that someone thinks is collectible for them.
It's not necessarily haute couture vintage only that
sells as vintage, but often just good brand names or custom made
garments that are either unusual examples of an era's fashions or more
often very typical items of an era that have a certain style and design
value, making them the staple of the vintage trade today.
Such items have that elusive quality that made them
just as desirable in their heyday. So you may be shocked to learn
that many collectors of used quality clothing define items as 70's
vintage or 80's vintage. A vintage purist will tell you that
anything within the past 15 years should be referred to as contemporary.
I have to agree.
One factor that is always important whatever the
garment's age, is quality and desirability combined with worth owning.
Just because an item is old, does not mean that it is a desirable vintage
item. As a consumer or seller it is important to think why a
vintage item is desirable. Usually quality shines through. A
moth eaten half faded 1940's wool dress is far less desirable to the vintage
collector, who may well acknowledge it is a 1940's original, but the
fact is, it is still a damaged original.
Vintage originally related to the year a wine or oil
was bottled. Then the word passed into general usage to mean the
year a particular item was made. First it was used to describe vintage
cars, meaning cars that were at least 50 years old.
of second hand clothing took this a stage further and used it describe
older clothes. Now many sellers and buyers use vintage as a term
to describe almost all previously owned second hand clothing of 25 years
or more years age. More recently and particularly with the rise of
internet trading, others have begun to include 1980's
items of clothing and accessories. The market has become
confused, yet more high profile at the same time.
Those of us who lived through the 1970s will always find
it hard to think of these clothes as vintage. The fact is that the
term vintage designer is being used more and more for more recent,
living or dead designer garments. It can be taken to mean a not new, quality
designed fashion item or accessory, still showing great flair and
capable of making an original style statement. Purists are rightly
unhappy with this, but the main thing is to understand there are
differences and you must be vigilant in finding out more about any items
you buy under the term vintage.
Generally there are more specific categories and many
often define them far too loosely, but this is my understanding of vintage
bearing in mind my love of costume. The differences
Antique- over 100 years old would be the
strict definition. But now often taken to mean anything from 1920 or
earlier when referring to clothing. As they become rarer these garments and
accessories are frequently the type
of items museums like to get their hands on. Museums like to fill
gaps in their collections. They also like to create themes or collections based around
an art movement like Art Deco or Baroque.
Featured in this section
are some wonderful antique clothing pictures from two high class vintage
dealers. The first is called
www.vintagetextile.com For me this site is what a stand alone vintage website should
be like. It sells a range of the finest quality articles, often
couture and mostly with
superb provenance. They show the most detailed pictures of the items for
sale and have explanatory detailed expert write ups. Many of the artefacts they sell are museum quality and can
be found in both mint and excellent condition. Browsing their site
is a sensory visual experience. They also have tips about the
concepts of value and market worth for the dedicated collector.
I'll be showing some more images of more items from vintagetextile on
in this section.
Vintage- In my opinion this is anything from
1920 onward to 1960. Personally I do not think that in
selling on websites you should use the word vintage for anything later
than the sixties decade. It can of course be used in conversation to mean
an ageing interesting garment, but when selling, sticking to a realistic
date to mean vintage is important and shows you really understand the
Contentmentfarmantiques.com is another superb example of
a website committed to selling a wide range of excellent,
varied antique and vintage goods including museum quality items.
The items shown below are typical of the fine vintage goods sold there,
which include Regency to mid C20th items of all varieties
including shoes, shawls, bags, hats to quilts.
I like the way Candy, the owner of this site describes the wide
selection of goods she displays, never hiding material information,
selling with frank and reliable honesty.
be exploring more items from contentmentfarm on
another page in
Retro - 1960's and 1970's clothing is usually considered Retro or Funky stuff
rather than vintage. The rest of the decades are up for debate
now as 80's fashion is gaining in popularity. Sadly it often
crowds out true vintage buys, leaving the market confused and damaged,
sidelining true vintage clothing. Whether it is really vintage is
a mute point. Some 1970's Polyester vintage for example is
considered less desirable than attractive 80's garments unless they are
I can only tell you I'm frustrated when searching for
vintage web sites because recently so much lesser produce like this
appears in listings under the guise of vintage. I'm not keen on
this - so much bad stuff is mixed in with items of real vintage worth.
Brand Vintage or Designer Vintage - These include certain brands that are collected post the season they
first hit the marketplace. More and more they are being described as designer vintage - for example Versace Vintage or Norma Kamali vintage when only a few years old.
Retro Repros (Retrospective Reproductions) -In
general terms these are garments made for example for re-enactments such as
Centenaries, Civil War, Medieval Banquets, Christmas and Autumnal Craft Fayres
and living history weekends. Fabrics available
today are usually used to reproduce costumes as authentically as possible.
On the internet you will need to read between the
lines of some descriptions at online auctions where the term vintage is
sometimes used blatantly to describe retro repro garments where certain
sellers set out deliberately to deceive. This is very different
from sellers who state clearly that the garments they sell are
specifically modern reproductions of clothes from other eras.
re-enactment pieces who sell Victorian styled Crinoline, bustle dresses
and Leg o' Mutton 1890's items include the reputable website at
be exploring more items from them on
another page in
Recollections make washable garments to fit modern
measurements, as well as being wholesale dealers of re-enactment items.
There are others that do this too including hat makers like
Siverson or lone workers with an interest in costume. A Google
search on reproduction dress will bring up many other companies. But I
feel Recollections is trying to offer goods in a very wide size range
often outside the usually smaller sizing on vintage goods. They price
fairly and this price is truly comparable to making your own when one
considers the volume of fabric required, purchase of a pattern and the
effort involved in constructing it to get a fair representation of a
Repro Clothing from
Right - Recollections -
Reproduction Late Victorian Style Dress.
This is a good example of a modern reproduction version of a late
Victorian dress. It can be made to the wearer's figure
measurements and height and in a colour choice from a range of about
8 shades. The bonus of this dress is that it can be safely worn for
re-enactment and easily laundered after wear.
It is not the same as vintage. It is good wearable
reproduction costume and can be mixed with vintage.
may of course wish to use modern dress patterns from pattern companies such
as Simplicity or Butterick, purchase vintage or special repro patterns to
make your own reproduction costumes. You can also scale original
patterns from books like Patterns of Fashion by Janet Arnold etc.
Alternatively for re-enactment you may wish to purchase ex theatrical stock
for the same purpose. There is nothing wrong with any of this, but
just remember it should not later be resold as vintage, but as reproduction
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