Thursday, 6 February 2014

'Vintage' or Overpriced Second-hand Clothing?

It's no secret that the world's gone wild for vintage clothes.  Vintage fairs pop up everywhere and the majority of the girls who are snapped for Vogue magazine's online street chic are either wearing the 'in' brands like & Other Stories and Stradivarius or simply 'vintage'.

Let's see what Google has to say: define vintage

  1. 1.
    the year or place in which wine, especially wine of high quality, was produced.
    "1982 is one of the best vintages of the century"
    synonyms:year More

  2. 2.
    the time that something of quality was produced.
    "rifles of various sizes and vintages"

While Google may recognise that vintage denotes some form of quality, and indeed, once upon a time should a woman have been wearing 'vintage' it would have most likely been haute couture, vintage Valentino or Chanel.  Not so much these days though.

Vintage now apparently refers to anything second-hand.  And I mean anything.  Even the Sue Ryder charity shop near my house in Headingley, Leeds now boasts a sign outside, claiming it sells 'Vintage clothes!'.  At what stage did a charity shop turn into a vintage store?  From what I can gather being a fan of quality vintage myself, the owners of so-called 'Vintage Stores' now simply spend their time riffling through charity shops and then quadrupling the price.  The only problem being that the charity shops have now caught on to this latest craze for second-hand…sorry, I mean vintage clothes, and bumped up the prices themselves.

I understand that charity shops do indeed give their proceeds to charity but they seem to have forgotten that their original modus operandi was to provide used clothes at fair prices in order to then help people in need.  Minutes ago I was in the St. Martin's House Charity Shop in Headingley and was shocked to see that they were selling used jeans, not even in the style of the popular 'Mom Jeans' which fans of the recent 90's fashion craze go wild for, for £10.

£10 for a pair of jeans may not sound extortionate to most but consider that these were a pair of old, scruffy jeans which had clearly already had a lot of wear.  I may be giving away my age a little here (fuck it, I'm only 26) but I remember the days when even the nicest items in charity shops were generally up to £5-6 and no more!  You can now go and buy a brand new pair of jeans in Primark for less money.  Sure, it feeds our culture of disposable, poorly made clothes as opposed to buying quality pieces, but it opens up bigger questions.  The charity shops have simply gone insane.  With their high prices they are putting off customers and thus defeating the point of their whole purpose - to raise money to help people.

Was St. Martin's House charging £10 for said pair of jeans because they are supposedly 'vintage'?  Does the fact that these jeans have been owned before thus qualify them to come under 'vintage clothing' - this mythical term coined to enable retailers to sell second-hand clothes at ludicrous prices?

We live in a world where it's become acceptable to charge £10 for a pair of jeans that otherwise should have been sold for under £3 and if they had been priced as such the proceeds could already have helped somebody.

We've become so over exposed to and obsessed with the 'vintage' craze that we've lost all sense of what's going on.  These are simply pre-owned items that greedy 'vintage store' owners, and sadly now charity shop volunteers, have grossly overpriced because of our frenzied demand.  Charity shops have detrimentally joined the ugly world of consumerism and the sad thing is I'm sure somebody this afternoon will probably buy the £10 pair of jeans, just to be able to tell their friends that they're wearing vintage with no inkling that of what 'charity shop' really means, and no care for where their money now goes.  If each pair of jeans were priced a little more sensibly the charity shop would be selling more and raking in more money than for a single sale of one £10 pair of jeans.

Now define vintage for me.

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