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.
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.