Vintage Shopping Isn’t What It Used to Be…

Norman Norell Coat from Hautedoor on Etsy U.S. $3,900

Norman Norell Coat from Hautedoor on Etsy U.S. $3,900

A couple of months ago I received a phone call from Ada Calhoun, a New York writer who was doing a piece on vintage shopping. Her angle was about how shopping for vintage has changed in the last twenty years. We talked about the fad for vintage styling and how contemporary manufacturers were churning out reproductions of 1950s-60s-70s pieces. In a recent issue of Vogue, Valerie Steele was not enthusiastic about the trend for the reappropriation of vintage by manufacturers and lesser-talented stylist-designers: “…it’s discouraging because they’re not creating something new, they’re just copying the past, sometimes literally…” I couldn’t agree more.

We also talked about the eBay factor and how the online market has changed the field of buying and selling vintage. At first over-abundance caused prices to shift, mostly downward on everything but designer clothing. Now however, unlike Walmart and Target that race to the bottom of the price sticker for their market, vintage dealers are overpricing everything into the stratosphere that is older than 25 years or has a recognizable name on the label, even when that name isn’t a designer. Their reasoning is bolstered by sales results at some auctions frequented by the same couple dozen international museums and celebrity stylists with money to buy whatever they want at whatever price they have to pay.

1960s style cocktail dress by BCBG, c. 2010, from Vintageandpurple on Etsy US $47.00

1960s style dress by BCBG, c. 2010, from Vintageandpurple on Etsy US $47

In the last year, Etsy has been transformed from a marketplace into a museum of merchandise as dealers wait for those elusive clients who purchase polyester 70s frocks for hundreds of dollars and 1960s designer coats for thousands of dollars. Meanwhile, thrift stores are being picked clean by bargain hunters who buy ten year old BCBG and DKNY to fill their closets, vintage racks and online shops. It seems every thrift store shopper is now a hobbyist vintage clothing dealer with an online shopfront to sell their cast-offs. Frankly, its just not fun to shop anymore…

Here is Ada Calhoun’s take for New York Magazine and its an interesting read.

4 thoughts on “Vintage Shopping Isn’t What It Used to Be…

  1. The interesting thing, too, is that the big thrift stores (Value Village, Salvation Army, and Goodwill) do not maintain “vintage” racks any longer (at least not in Winnipeg)…come September, some vintage finds its way, magically, onto the Halloween costume racks. I guess e-Bay, Etsy and the like has stopped people from donating true vintage and collectible clothing to the thrift stores in order to perhaps make a buck…

    • I always used to hit the ‘costume’ rack at the thrift stores, but you are right, they disappeared ten-15 years ago. Now there is sometimes an ‘ethnographic’ rack that has some vintage tossed in, but its usually just ugly bridesmaid dresses from the 70s/80s.

  2. Since your fast and free article displays my photograph of our archive store THEHAUTEDOOR The Norman Norell coat isn’t 3900. Not the full truth. Its a two-piece ensemble. Please see the matching sheath dress. First, we are NOT a charity or a vintage shop. We collect haute couture and one-off designs. So its a little disingenuous and disappointing to be written about in the same article as Salvation Army and Goodwill. please update and correct the record by removing said picture without the facts. It would have been helpful if you contacted THEHAUTEDOOR before publishing. I agree with your sentiment but look at real estate and you wonder why vintage shops are closing. Who can afford sky-high rents? Etsy and Ebay helped change the way we shop but no one is asking the obvious questions. WHY? whether buying items for 1.00 or 1000 it’s commerce. Everything costs. Last I checked museums charge an entry fee and we don’t charge anything yet Pinterest is stealing our images every day and making money off our work, Designers are stealing our pictures and making money off our work, Etsy is using our pictures to promote their site while making money off our work. So who is making money? Not us… I’m tired of snobby people who can’t get an haute couture gown for 15.00 anymore. We were collecting before eBay or Etsy existed. Lets talk about costs… Collecting is no bargain. Some daily costs include rent, ie room temperature storing or restoring, dry cleaning haute couture and repairs don’t come cheap. Will it be a payday for us? God willing! One day maybe…. but for years NO We do it for passion and love, not for monetary reasons. Everyone wants something for a 1.00. I would like a 1947 Dior for 1.00 but it’s not happening.

    Feel free to say William V, Resurrection 1st dibs and so many other as vintage shops. We are NOT. I would call them specialty stores which archive some of the most storied pieces of couture and shouldn’t be compared to charity shops. It’s an insult as we all have value.

    Thanks very much,

    • Although the Norell coat was 3,900 when I wrote this blog over three years ago, you are right, that it is not now 3,900 because you have since raised the price to 4,400, and even though you say it has a matching dress, there is no picture of it. I think you missed the point of the article, because I was not equating you with a charity shop – mostly because you have never sold anything. You have 0 feedback with no record of any sale ever taking place on Etsy, so you actually have more in common with a museum than a shop.

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