Monday, November 22, 2010

What is vintage these days?

Is is it vintage? source BBC
These days defining what makes something vintage is an interpretational thing. With its original meaning relating to the age of wine, vintage can be applied to a multitude of things but for the sake of this blog I am focusing on clothes and the period associated with it. Some of you may have seen the interview I did with Karlee from the blog Gatsby and Me. I asked her the very question of what she defines as vintage and her response was:

“I think people confuse the terms "vintage" and "retro". For me, Vintage is around 50 years back from the present - 60's clothes are my "cut off." I don't agree with 80's and 90's op shop finds being sold in chain stores like Sportsgirl as 'vintage" for $80! Retro to me means 70's-90's.”

At the site Fashion Era explains the definition of many collectors of vintage clothing:

“So you may be shocked to learn that many collectors of used quality clothing define items as 70's vintage or 80's vintage. A vintage purist will tell you that anything within the past 15 years should be referred to as contemporary. I have to agree.”

However her personal opinion differs:

“In my opinion this is anything from 1920 onward to 1960. Personally I do not think that in selling on websites you should use the word vintage for anything later than the sixties decade. It can of course be used in conversation to mean an ageing interesting garment, but when selling, sticking to a realistic date to mean vintage is important and shows you really understand the concept.”

I sought the perspective of my mother for this topic only for her to respond with:

“Any clothes not from the digital age.”

Which could either be interpreted as the late 70s or the 90s.

From this assignment I have learnt that what people see as vintage changes from person to person. I find that a good thing because I myself am I one for people having different views on such a thing. My own definition would be from the art deco era to the psychedelic prints age in the sixties. Retro for me is the late 60s to 90s and also contemporary things that are inspired by the past I see as retro (such as full skirts, etc.)
What is your own personal view of what is vintage?


  1. I consider "vintage" is 1920's to 1960's and anything later than that is retro. I really wish sellers would be more clearcut about the definition of the two terms since it makes shopping more difficult :(

  2. I'd have to say IMO more than 20 years old is vintage. I like my definitions simple. :)

    It 's equally ridiculous how much opinions vary as to what 's an antique and what 's "just" a collectible. I don't really get what the big deal with this is (as long as you're not buying simply as an investent) I feel the same about designer labels. Either it 's pretty, desirable and worth the price or it 's not. The name on the label or carbon dating is not going to affect that for me.

  3. Kate: I always thought of "retro" as contemporary clothing made in old styles
    Funny, these definitions do seem to vary A LOT :D

  4. Hiya Ruby! I love your blog, every time I visit I learn something new about vintage, which is always excellent. So I gave you an award!

  5. Oh, it's a funny thing to tell... Since I always knew the term 'vintage' only as for fine wine or old dolls like vintage Barbies etc. where it really reffered to the date when it was made,I had it clear when I first heard it used for fashion style as 'instead' for 'retro': to me vintage is the real thing while retro (meaning kind of "looking back" - back at old times in our case, as long as I know) is simply styled to look old. Which I don't quite care about. :D (wether it's old or not; thought there is often quality difference, but still...)
    Never thought about date differnces or so... I used it just this way. True, now I almost gave up on the word 'retro' because 'vintage' just always sounds better... :D Well, it's like this. :D (it's not like I don't care; I alway hated the fact that when searching for way too much older things I have to go through 80s/90s using the word vintage... guess then debates like this rae ok and in the end, I don't care wether vintage is more about authenticity or about era)
    Sorry for long comment and my terribly foreigner-english... XD

  6. ooh, I was going to write 'foreign' but later I kind of forgot myself in my sentence styling... :D What a mistake. What a shame. Nevermind, it's grammar's fault that it isn't customized to my uses. XD

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