As fashion lovers and shoppers we hear that something is “vintage” all too often. But what does vintage mean exactly?
Generally speaking, clothing produced pre-1920s is referred to as antique clothing and clothing from the 1920s to 20 years before the present day is considered vintage. Retro, short for retrospective, or "vintage style" usually refers to contemporary clothing that imitates the style of a previous era.
Most vintage clothing has been previously owned and worn, but a small percentage of pieces have not. These are often old warehouse stock, and more valuable than those that have been worn, especially if they still have their original tags.
In the United States vintage sizes are often smaller than than the corresponding cotemporary size due to changes in clothing sizing. For example, a garment from the 70s labeled as a Medium (M) might be similar in size to an Extra Small (XS) from the 2010s. Larger sizes are typically rare however, vintage sewing patterns offer an option for those who want a historically accurate garment but cannot find one in their size.
Vintage clothing can be found all over the place- from second hand clothing shops, consignment shops, garage sales, flea markets, estate sales, etc. but has seen its biggest market on the internet in recent years. E-commerce has increased the accessibility of specific and hard to find items and has opened up prospective markets for sellers around the world.
Although there has always been an appreciation for the superior quality, fabrics and design that is found in vintage clothing- the awareness, demand, and acceptance of this has increased dramatically since the early 1990s. This increased interest is due in part to top celebrities and models being seen in vintage pieces. Julia Roberts, Renee Zellweger, Chloe Sevigny, Tatiana Sorokko, Kate Moss, and Dita Von Teese all helped to usher in the wave of love for vintage clothing.
Chloe Sevigny in vintage YSL (top left); Dita Von Teese in vintage Dior (top right); Julia Roberts in vintage Valentino (bottom).
There has also been an increasing interest in environmental sustainability in terms of reusing, recycling and repairing rather than throwing things away. Sometimes vintage items are upcycled via changing the hemline or other features for a more contemporary look. Vintage items in poor condition are also reclaimed for reuse as part of a new garment.
Vintage inspired clothing is all around us and especially prevalent on the runway. Fashion design throughout history has turned to previous eras for inspiration. Garments closely resembling original, rare, and hard to find vintage clothing are mass-produced. An example of this is the simple slip dresses that emerged in the early 1990s, a style that resembles a 1930's design, but upon examination will show that it only superficially resembles the real thing. These styles are generally referred to as "vintage style", "vintage inspired" or "vintage reproductions".
Vintage inspired pieces
So now you know a bit more about what vintage is and what it isn’t. While it’s fresh on your mind, check out some of our vintage collection (pictured below or type “Vintage” into the search bar).
"Sooner or later, everything old is new again."
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