I hear that word and cobblestones appear under my feet. I see flowers in people’s hair. A mash up of Carla Bruni’s “Quelqu’un m’a dit” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Girls in Their Summer Clothes” explodes into my head. Marilyn, Twiggy, Liz Taylor, flashes of every decades’ most exciting trends and pieces come to mind. But then, that doesn’t happen every time. The word, for the past couple of years has been misused.
“That bag is gorgeous!”
“Thanks it’s really old, like, it’s vintage”.
That is most definitely not vintage. I hear no music, there are no flowers in your hair. But then again I don’t want to confine the word into my own prior judgment. So I decided to look into it. Research the difference between old and fabulous, and just plain old and ugly.
The results are as follows: “clothes that are culturally indicative to a time period make the grade”. Vintage is defined by age. Today vintage is considered to be any piece that is excellently made in the 1920-1980’s. The time gap needed for a piece to go from fabulous to vintage is around 20 years. The reason I say around is because the answer to that question is subjective ranging from 10 to 50. Some people will sell concert t-shirts from the 90’s and call them vintage and some consider dresses from the 70’s just that, dresses from the 70’s.
Vintage does have to do with quality. Mass produced clothing and accessories used to be made with so much more care and detail. That’s why most designer products easily shift into the vintage category after 20 years. Quality translates into excellence, superiority, and eventually clothes that never die.
Let’s look into the fashion dictionary. Clothes that were made before the 1920’s are called antique clothing. Copies of pieces from older eras are called retrospective pieces. Secondhand, Thrift Shops, and Goodwill are all NOT vintage.
”Most vintage clothing has been previously worn, but a small percentage of pieces have not. These are often old warehouse, or shop stock. These items are usually referred to by dealers as "dead stock", "old stock" or "new-old stock" and can be more sought after and more valuable than those that have been worn, especially if they have their original tags.”
Fashion is all about how you interpret the pieces. So if you think about it that girl didn’t really have it wrong. She had an opinion about an older piece. She considered her piece vintage since to her, it represented an older era.
In conclusion vintage is a subjective opinion on a piece that has come from a fashion era. Vintage is Forever. Just like the perfume, only spicier.
Images: Alexandra Kompseli
– Maha Al-Jallal