Is what you’re wearing really vintage?

Over the past 10 years there has been a dramatic increase in the so called, “coolness” of wearing clothing that’s as old as your parents. It’s called vintage, and since its popular rise in nomenclature- the term vintage has become synonymous with thrifting. So here, we’re going to show and explain to you how to spot if something is actually vintage or if it’s just retro (BIG DIFFERENCE).

First things first, let’s define vintage:

Surprisingly, there is no exact definition of vintage, the word originates from the french word- vendage which means ‘grapes picked during a season.’ It was first used to describe old wine. But according to BBC (the most credible source found), vintage is anything that predates over 20 years old. So now, in 2018,  anything before 1998 is considered vintage!

How do I check the age? Union labels are a good start.

A union label is proof that the article predates the 1980’s since clothing unions , like the ILGWU (International Ladies Garment Workers Union) existed strongly in the U.S. before the dramatic overseas shift of manufacturing in the 1980’s. Here are some examples of labels:

this is a union tag of the ILGWU dating from 1955 to 1963
Source: Vintage Life
union clothing label on a piece of vintage clothing
Source: Vintage Life
vintage clothing union tag
Source: Vintage Life

 Decorative Labels

From my experience thrifting, one factor that helps me determine the age or authenticity of the product is the clothing tag! Labels in fast fashion today that would try to replicate the vintage look wouldn’t have a nice label likes these:

Image result for decorative old clothing tags
Source: Carmen and Ginger
Image result for decorative old clothing tags
Source: Abandoned Republic

Another unique aspect I look for is the typography! When you look at the design, or even clothing tag pay attention to the typography! What year do you think these tags are from?

Image result for vintage clothing tags
Source: A Hollywood Flashback

Simple wear and tear

Image result for distressed vintage tee

This is possibly the biggest thing I look for when I read dates of shirts. In some cases you’ll find an unworn tee that this method won’t apply to. But a 20 year old shirt should really look worn or washed. Notes of fading in the graphic or cracking in the silk-screen printing are the first and most obvious signs, and that’s totally ok! Even with a little cracking the shirt has another 20 years in its life.

Not looking vintage after all?

Just because it’s not vintage doesn’t mean it can’t be cool! With our iron-on vinyl, you can give a facelift to any clothes you’re not quite in love with.

Recommended Posts