The word “Vintage” and what you should pay for it.
What does Vintage really mean? Seems like everyone believes they have “vintage” gold in their closets, attics and garages. I will blame this phenomena on Television. Pickers, Storage bidders, Auctioneers - all of them have simultaneously exposed a very old profession to the unknowing public for entertainment. And thats great - those shows can be interesting for a few episodes. However, there’s the huge underlying issue of value - implied, imposed, suggested and fabricated value.
Just ‘cuz it’s old, don’t mean its valuable, and just ‘cuz it’s old don’t mean it’s vintage, either. You’ve gotta factor quality, scarcity, and condition.
What’s the difference between old, antique, vintage and thrift?
You’ve got old shoes - but are they “vintage?” A “classic” car must be at least 15 to 25 years old to be in the category. Etsy defines their all-encompassing vintage category as anything produced before 1998. Vintage clothing dealers generally adhere to the 25 - 75 year model where vintage starts at 25 years and stops at 75. Textiles under 25 years old are considered “thrift” - the kind of stuff you find at thrift stores. Garments older than 75 years are in the antique category - think lacy prairie dresses and seriously old denim.
Regardless of which category you’re buying or selling from you must be realistic with your expectations. As in the case with old shoes - you can easily thrift a pair of Chuck Taylors that were made in China the 2000s. You may see what you believe to be the same shoes in a solid vintage showroom for a lot more money - and rightfully so. A real deal pair of Converse, blue label, made in U.S.A. sneakers with cotton laces and striping will fetch good money. A trained eye is key. Be warry and be savvy as the deal spectrum has been closing over the last decade.
Good goods are never cheap, and cheap goods are never good - unless whoever is selling them doesn’t know what they have. Take a stroll through most curated vintage clothing stores today and you’ll see amazing pieces that have been hand selected from thousands of pounds of junk. Very, very rarely do amazing time capsules of mega vintage pieces come to the market anymore. There simply isn’t that much good stock left. Manufacturing left the USA and cheaper materials became the norm a pretty long time ago so the resale market is now saturated with all of that stuff - thrift junk.
Some sellers tag insane prices on pieces and sometimes they get them. One can never truly know how badly a buyer wants something. Buyers can be completists looking to close out a collection and are often sentimental and on the hunt for something they once owned.
Lastly, in terms of vintage also ask yourself about quantity. How many of these things were actually made? Always hunt for the best. Collect the best and wear the best. You can afford to be a choosy buyer and stay patient. There are tons of us out there digging through a world of vintage clothing and we know what to look for and we know what we’re doing. We’ll find that t-shirt you wore in 1984 for you, we promise.