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Minor Lavender

18 June 2009


"Vintage clothing is a generic term for new or second hand garments originating from a previous era"

Generally speaking, clothing which was produced before the 1920s is referred to as antique clothing and clothing from the 1920s to 1980 is considered vintage. Retro, short for retrospective, usually refers to clothing that imitates the style of a previous era. Clothing produced more recently is usually called modern or contemporary fashion. Opinions vary on these definitions.

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.

Although there has always been some demand for old and/or second hand clothing, the awareness, demand and acceptance of this has increased dramatically since the early 1990s.

Other reasons that some people are attracted to vintage clothing include:

  • Unique or almost unique: most items were custom made, and others were manufactured in small quantities only.
  • Good quality: they were designed to be worn for years and passed on to other family members, so they were made of robust materials, well cut and well made, with generous seam allowances and hems which allow for alterations and custom fit.
  • Fine materials: many of the unusual older fabric types are no longer manufactured, or are now prohibitively expensive.
  • Value for money: garments generally sell for a cost far below similar new modern garments.
  • History: an appreciation of the past, the roles of previous generations and the skills of respected designers.
  • Detailing: hand finishing, unusual buttons, hand embroidery, handmade lace, crochet, applique, beading and other techniques.
  • Style: vintage clothing has traditionally been the favorite of creative personalities because it offers an enormously wide range of imaginative styles.
  • Investment: some people buy to collect rather than to wear, and increasingly, good quality vintage garments especially items by well-known designers are sought after by collectors.

At times, the cycle of fashion design turns to history for inspiration, and garments closely resembling original vintage (retro or antique) clothing are manufactured. An example of this is the simple slip dresses that emerged in the early 1990s and were based on undergarments of the 1930s. These styles are generally referred to as "vintage inspired" or "vintage reproductions" depending on the faithfulness to the historical design, and serve as a convenient alternative to those who admire an old style but prefer a modern interpretation - another advantage is that, unlike the original garments, they are usually available in a range of sizes and perhaps, colours and/or fabrics.

source, Wikipedia.

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