Published: April 18, 2023
Pictured: Vintage Valentino leather fitted jacket
As times change and fashion evolves, the word 'vintage' can be applied to many different styles from the past. In general, if you are using the word vintage to describe a garment you will be referring to a piece of clothing from the previous era.
For example, we are in the 2020s right now, so anything prior to 2015 could be considered 'vintage'... but it's not that simple.
In previous centuries fashion moved more slowly. This means that you can look at a style and pin it down to an approximate time period or decade of the 20th Century. These days trends and eras move in periods of 3 – 5 years.
The love of vintage clothing and refashioning means that you could be admiring someone's Mary Quant 1960s mini-dress... when in reality it's a refashioned 90s version of the garment.
For the purposes of this article, it is widely accepted that to be truly 'vintage' a garment must be 20 to 100 years old. Anything older is considered antique.
Today's Vintage Clothing Trend
Luckily for us we have a great historic mark as to when garments become vintage: the millennium. So, why are people in the 21st Century obsessed with tracking down garments from the 1920s to the early 2000s? We covered a major reason in our last article about refashioning.
The advent of the internet has had two very notable effects on the fashion industry: consumers are more aware of the negative global impact of their clothing purchases, and people are being influenced in their choice of style on a greater level.
If we take Vogue (a powerhouse of style since 1905 when it became a women's magazine), we can see how the reach or "influence" has changed in society. A hundred years ago, even fifty years ago, you had to have the means to buy a physical copy of the magazine.
Within the articles and photo shoots there may have been a nod to 'vintage', but like most fashion publications, Vogue was working towards the future trends.
If you couldn't find a piece of clothing featured in a magazine you'd go to your nearest store and choose from their stock. Failing that, you'd go to a thrift store or a family member may adapt an item of their clothing for you. The latter was often considered 'cheap' and 'a last resort'.
Vintage clothing stores used to be few and far between, usually they were part of an existing antique goods store. There you could find fur coats, minks and costume jewelry tucked away in a dusty corner.
In today's world it is not uncommon to see several vintage clothing shops in one town, with products ranging from timeless fashion items to more 'kooky' pieces.
The vintage clothing trend has been around for a good few years now, one of the most enduring apps/websites is Depop, which was founded in 2011.
The insights from the Business Of Fashion Report (2021) show that from 2017 onwards there was a boom in online vintage retailers, including well-known brand initiatives such as Burberry, Macy's and Ralph Lauren all coming on-board in 2019. Even now, post pandemic, buying and selling affordable vintage clothing on line is still big-business.
What are the Benefits of Buying Vintage Garments?
Pictured: Vintage Scaasi silk a-line fitted belted dress
The BoF Insights Lab analyzed the data from the 2021 report and found that "the global second-hand fashion market is currently worth an estimated $130 billion..." With all those sales happening world-wide, what are the real benefits of buying someone else's unwanted clothes?
Reduce your carbon footprint with vintage. If you can be part of the solution to a world crisis and look good at the same time – go for it! Did you know that according to WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) "an estimated £140 million worth of used clothing, or some 350,000 tonnes, goes to landfill in the UK alone every year." Can you imagine what the devastating statistics are for the US which is forty times larger?
Help make money for charities. Many thrift stores around the globe are the main source of income for charities and non-profit organizations. By choosing to spend your dollars carefully and consciously, you can grab a bargain while supporting a good cause.
Vintage is still around because... it’s usually better quality! If you're buying a garment that's 20+ years old and it still looks good, then you can bet that it was made to last. Whether the fabric is a higher quality, the stitching is more precise, or it was made by hand; you can expect a lot more wear from your purchase.
You set the trend and express yourself through vintage garments. We think that the most exciting part of buying second-hand clothes is the fact that you can do what you like... you are not confined to what Target or Walmart have on display.
If you invest the extra time it takes to search the racks of an independent store or browse online, you can get something you truly love, that reflects your personality.
Where to Find High-Quality Vintage Pieces
Pictured: Vintage Christian Dior fitted jacket
We've mentioned a few options in our articles when it comes to finding your next favourite vintage fashion items. If you're looking for a timeless piece (rather than something that fits a microtrend) you'll need to start going to the right places. Let's first take a look at traditional shops that stock vintage goods.
The easiest way to discover relevant stores in your town is by using Google Maps. Simply type in "vintage clothing store" and you'll immediately get a list of local businesses, photos of their goods and direct links to their website.
The advantage of visiting a store in person is that you can touch and try on the garments. There may also be stock that isn't advertised on the website, or has newly arrived. Oftentimes these stores are run by passionate, savvy bargain-hunters and they can advise you on other places to visit such as flea markets and auctions.
It really does depend on the kind of vintage clothing you are after. If you desire high-quality vintage from fashion houses and elite brands, then you may be better off looking at specific websites that specialize in your exact genre.
For example, you wouldn't be able to guarantee that a Louis Vuitton bag was at a thrift store, but you could definitely confirm it was online by using a simple keyword search on a dedicated site.
So, if you're going to use an online method to purchase affordable vintage clothing, how can you tell if it's genuine or if it's exactly what you're looking for? You'll need to look at the credentials of the business running the site, this is easy enough to do by checking out their reviews, and searching for them with the state’s Secretary of State business registry.
Look into their return policy and their authenticity guarantee. If the business stands behind their products’ authenticity they will offer a no-hassle return policy for a limited period of time and a lifetime authenticity guarantee policy.
After all, if you're searching for a vintage statement piece that might be worth hundreds or thousands of dollars, you'll want to be safe in the knowledge that it's genuine, and you're protected by trading standards.
Selling Vintage Clothing: tips and tricks
Now that you know about the benefits to yourself (and the environment) when it comes to buying vintage garments, how easy is it to start selling vintage clothing?
You may be someone that has inherited an item you'll never wear or you could have been gifted a piece that is not quite your style... or you might want to just pocket some extra cash! Selling your vintage items relies on you finding the option that's right for your needs.
There are several ways to go about selling, but first it's essential that you know the value of your item. For example, does it come with a serial number or a distinguishing maker's mark? Is there an index where you can look up the brand?
If you're relying on comparing your item to an image search or others already listen on auction sites, you'll need to be clear about this with any potential buyers. If it's an authentic piece make sure you can prove it!
Once you have all the information about your item it's time to choose how you want to go about making that sale.
Auction sites such as eBay may seem tempting because they frequently run offers where you'll get 'no selling fees' or you can promote their 'buyer protection' to give your potential customer peace of mind... However, when selling high-quality vintage goods an online auction site still has an element of 'buyer beware' attached to it.
If you have amazing items made by the likes of Chanel, Givenchy, Armani or Hermes you are much more likely to get the price you deserve by listing the piece with an online consignment business. The reason that some sellers are indecisive when it comes to this process is usually to do with the fact that the OCB will ask for a higher fee for selling the item on your behalf.
The reseller will need to take a cut of the selling price because for their service you are utilizing the company's experience, existing customer base, SEO position, authenticity guarantee and their marketing.
The potential customer for high-end vintage clothing and accessories will have already done some basic research about the item they are hoping to purchase. Closing that sale has a better chance when the buyer isn't relying on an unknown person to visit the post office in their spare time.
Having an authentic journey from start to finish with the protection of a registered business is reassuring.
Inspiration from CODOGIRL
The whole ethos of CODOGIRL is based on sustainable high-quality fashion. We have been working in the industry since 2010, and this means we have a wealth of experience to share with you!
If you're looking to sell your vintage items with us we have 3 easy ways to do so: send us a photo for a quote, schedule a video call with us, or visit the store.
We carry a great selection of vintage (and newer) clothing from brands such as Alexander McQueen, Burberry, Gucci, Moschino and more. Some of these items are listed on behalf of people who have chosen to trust us with their exclusive high-quality finds.
A circular approach to the fashion industry is something that we should all strive to achieve. Whether you are buying or selling vintage clothing, there's an avenue for everyone. Sometimes it's nice just to confirm that the item you have in your collection is authentic.
We hope our article goes someway to explaining what to look for, and why bargain-hunting and re-purposed fashion is so popular.
Vintage clothing is a core part of the current fashion industry trends: no longer reserved for museums or thrift stores. Why not start your journey today and see what fabulous finds come your way?