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Vintage Clothing Trends

"Vintage" & "Value"

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.

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Levis & Lee?

Lee or Levis?

A brief history of the two denim icons.

Levis (the brand, as we know it) was founded in May, 1853 by German immigrant Levi Strauss. Strauss “borrowed” denim work wear from France and capitalized on the booming US/California work trade by offering durable and affordable chore wear for the working classes. (Denim was originally - like ORIGINALLY originally, worn by Italian sailors and later adopted by the French who attempted to imitate the strong fabric and failed. The hybrid they invented was adopted by Strauss. The concept of “Blue Jeans” was invented by Jacob Davis while working with Levi’s in 1871.)

Lee was founded in 1889 in Salina, Kansas, by Henry David Lee as a mercantile company producing work jackets and dungaree style pants. Lee became known for their all-union workplaces and for the introduction of the modern “overall” as we know it today. (Davis also invented overalls at Levis in the 1870s)

A series of earthquake related fires destroyed Levis headquarters in 1906. (Levis experienced multiple fire related devastations - as San Francisco was known for its urban fire problems)

In the 1940s a major flood wiped out the entire Lee Kansas City Distribution center (except for Buddy Lee Dolls).

Both brands pushed denim in all forms - jeans, jackets, skirts, overalls, you name it through the blue jean era (60’s - 80’s). Lee was purchased by Vanity Fair and became a real Brand. (Levis had been a brand for almost 100 years by that point)

And then came the off brands. Imitators flooded the market with off brand denim forcing Lee and Levis to focus on new products (Dockers, the Ms. Lee Women’s fit collection, kids lines etc). Levis was forced to close 60 factories in the 1980s due to market competition.

Lee had to deal with a huge factory strike in 1981 when 240 workers staged a protest against moving a factory from Scotland to Ireland. What was planned as a single event turned into a 7 month protest.

During the 1990s, Levi’s experienced some trouble over “made in USA” tags and foreign working conditions. They began suing every blue jean maker they could find for infringement in the early 2000s - Levis filed stitching trademarks in 1978 and successfully battled over 100 companies for the rights to their patterns.

Lee introduced National Denim Day as part of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and has since raised over $75 million to fund cancer research. In 2013 Levis purchased the naming rights to the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers.

Both brands experienced a decline in sales during the early 2000s and have since revived the brands with new campaigns and collaborations. Levis reported revenues of 4.6 Billion in 2016 and Lee was relaunched in Paris in 2014.

So next time you think your jeans are just a pair of pants, think again. There is a long and storied history behind those garments you put one foot into every day.

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Leather Jacket Coolness?

Leather Jacket Coolness?
Leather Jackets. Can a leather jacket make you cool? Let’s dive deep into this. We all know the history of the leather jacket and if you’re short on your history lessons - here’s a very brief leather timeline. Leather jackets arrived as military-wear and carried over into post-world war fashion as a work wear staple. They kept you warm. They kept you safe when you crashed your motorcycle. They held your stuff. Irvin Schott’s foresight thrust the jacket into motorcycle culture by selling his jackets in Harley Davidson dealerships. Leather designs evolved over the years - 1930’s jacket cuts are recognizable as are the 1950’s, 60s, 70s, 80s etc. Many leather designers actually started out making shoes and boots and were able to capitalize on the huge market boom for leather jackets. We will argue that the leather jacket is the single most importantly appropriated garment that the fashion world has ever seen. No other piece of wearable anything has been given so much attention, veneration, fame and exposure as the simple leather jacket. Everyone - movie stars, musicians, sports personalities, models, politicians and activists all wear them. And they’re all cool. Herbert Huncke? Very Cool. (Oh, Google him!) Brando? Cool. McQueen? Cool. Ramones? Cool. Lennon? Cool. Muhammed Ali? Cool. Debbie Harry? Cool. Madonna? Cool. Kate Moss? Cool. Calvin Klein? Cool. Alexander Wang? Cool. Bill Clinton? Well…. Leather jacket/saxophone cool. (Barack and Hillary wear them, too.) Etc. Etc. Etc. You see, the leather jacket is multiple things. While there certainly is no magical leather coat that provides super hero like protection or invisibility, there is however an edge, a degree of protection that comes with that stitched and zippered jacket that will however, give you a cool attitude. Undoubtedly, the jacket is insulation. Leather jackets imply protection from danger, from the harshness of fast life. After all, they were introduced to keep soldiers safe in battle and evolved to protect battles on stage and screen and the streets. So while the piece itself is just a jacket, what it embodies and represents with it’s history and exposure is without a doubt, very, very cool. Continue reading

What's the value in a Vintage T-Shirt?

What's the value in a Vintage T-Shirt?

What is a Vintage T Shirt? (I mean, really.)

So you’re into vintage? We’re going to assume you probably fall into the a late GEN-X category since you’re still digging for those killer vintage scores.

You probably started out as a youngster watching classic shows, subconsciously identifying with eras that tapped into your soul. The 1970s just seemed so cool. Chicks had feathered hair and wore bellbottoms. Dudes wore boots and corduroy and rock t shirts. They drove cool cars. They did what they wanted. Life was simpler. And you understood that, (well, you kind of understood it). Lets skip past the 80’s - that’s a conversation for another time - and slam right into the 90’s when grunge rock had oozed into the mainstream. You wore flannel and converse and shredded Levi’s 501’s. You bought CDs. Or maybe you were too young for all that and the emo wave hit you during the late 90s. Did you wear girls jeans and vintage kids size XL t-shirts? If that was you, thats fine. We understand. Every generation has their youthful peak and it doesn’t much matter whether you stood in line to see Black Sabbath at the palladium or stood outside of some church hall to watch at a shoe gaze band.

You see, the point here is where the iconography falls in the spectrum of your formative, teenage years. And, for you reading this, you know that the number one item in every vintage wardrobe is (and was) your favorite vintage t-shirt.

The vintage t-shirt is an icon. It’s not just a thing. And it’s certainly not just a shirt. (John Cusack did not simply hold a “boombox” above his head in the rain…)

Vintage Tees mean something because they basically fall into two categories:

1. It was Given to you and/or Stolen from your EX.
i.e. You totally stole his favorite Soundgarden T Shirt to sleep in and kept it for years even after the stupid break up. Yes, you did. And we hope you still have it.)

2. You found it in some obscure/dumpy/thrift-hole and considered it the score of a lifetime. There are two categories within this section -

First - While looking for kitschy wall art at the local Value-Village you decided to peruse the mens clothing bins. Inside said bins was a original, 1978 Neil Young Tour tee with a whopping price tag of .99 Cents. You forgot about your art.

Second - after scouring all 7 Goodwill locations in your hometown in a day-long thrift marathon, you finally found your perfect irony-laced-somewhat-smart-assed-goofy-logo tee from bank/sports team/elks lodge that probably said something like “We Finance Love Affairs” or “I’m So Horney, The Crack of Dawn Looks Good.” You wore that shirt every day, to every show and through every mosh pit until you - (Choose honestly!)

A. Got a real job and were forced to grow up.
B. Got a girlfriend who didn’t get your taste in music/films/fashion.
C. Got a little fat for it to fit.
D. Wore it out.

You see, those of us who lust after what seemingly looks like dirty old clothing are just reliving the same sentimental uniform attachments that every generation has had. The leather jacket, the poodle skirt, the flapper dress and the varsity sweater all relished in their eras. For us, the T-Shirt was king.

So now, by todays measurement, anything produced before 1999 is vintage. Which is a scary piece of context as most of you were either in or just out of high school at that time. Here’s something to try at your next trip to Whole Foods - dig out one of those old tees and wear it. See how many nods and looks you’ll get. It’ll give you a nice feeling that there are more of you out there than you think, and those times were the greatest, fashion choices and all.

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