Jan 20, 2011

Musings from a Day on the Road

The team ( read Mr. Past Perfect and I) went on a a shopping expedition yesterday. Not saying where. Sorry about that, but I have to protect my sources as they tend to dwindle away. And it led me to muse about why good vintage clothing costs what it does as different levels. And why it costs more at a good Vintage shop.

First off, I suppose I should define Good Vintage. At this business, 1980s is the cutoff for vintage. And we prefer pre 1970. Not 1990s clothing, or last year's clothes from Cato or Target. I'm still wearing those, so they aren't vintage. Good Vintage isn't stained. It isn't torn. It isn't frayed.

Great Vintage? Excellent condition, Clean, Good fabric, good design, good color.

And that's what you pay for in a good quality shop whether online or brick and mortar. I hate to use an overworked word, but it's been curated for the customer already. You may even find examples of top designers of their eras.

Did I find Great Vintage yesterday? No. I found possibilities.

Possibilities that have to be gone over, buttons and seams checked, steamed, cleaned, (some hand washed, some dry-cleaned, and we have three levels of dry-cleaning: 1) cheapest local cleaner, 2) better but more expensive local cleaner, and 3) 30 miles away, but top quality, top dollar cleaner), sorted and inventoried, and stored. Labor and additional funds will have to be invested.

And that's all before the standard business expenses of rent, utilities, insurance, etc. that everyone has to a greater or lesser extant.

They just don't put that labor and expense in at thrifts and consignment shops. Understandably so. And most Antique mall booths can't or don't either. Odds are, it won't be cleaned. It won't be mended. It won't be steamed or ironed. It may be permanently stained or torn. And since there isn't anyone to ask questions or help the customer, it's pretty much Buyer Beware. And there may not be anything there that can even charitably be called vintage.

There are booth owners who do present their inventory beautifully and it's in great shape. And you will and should see a price difference for that. They have earned it.

So for those shoppers complain about the high cost of vintage - I say, you can pay less, but it will take a LOT of hunting, quite a bit of labor, and risking that a problem can be fixed.

But if you want the usual conveniences of modern shopping, are looking for primo vintage, and want service with that sale, consider paying a little more.


Lisa said...

This is a great post! Very informative. Thank you!

Mary Jane said...

So very true, your points are spot on. One does indeed in most cases have to pay a bit of a premium for hand picked and well cared for vintage.

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely correct in your musings, thank you for stating simply what needs to be said! well done! xoxo

Anonymous said...

So very true. People unfamiliar with vintage clothing don't seem to realize that in order to find comparable quality in contemporary clothing they'd have to spend hundreds. A vintage dealer who has done all the work of bringing high quality pieces to market deserves a fair price.

Anonymous said...

Well put! You hinted at, but didn't directly say, that when you buy from a good vintage seller you are also paying for their expertise. If you are buying online, you are assured that the item really is a 1930s dress and not a great copy from 50 years later.

I buy at all price points, from thrift stores to the great vintage stores you are talking about. sometimes the best bargain is one that you pay a little more for, but that is of top quality.

Past Perfect Vintage Clothing said...

Lizzie, that's an excellent point expertise.And my favorite jacket I have already gotten a lot of wear out of was one of my more expensive buys, but it's top quality!

Lady Jane Vintage said...

Perfectly put! So thrilled to have found your blog and will be back often! I have just started blogging again after a looong break! Warmly, Jen