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.