1-The price of vintage has gone WAY up.
2-Real vintage is becoming harder to find.
3-What is out there that isn't overpriced isn't very good.
Of course I am over simplifying things here, but I have had a difficult time finding quality vintage that I can afford for at least a few years now. I still find things mind you, but it has become increasingly difficult, especially now that I am 'starting over' and am not making as much money as I once was. When I first started collecting it was a fun, affordable hobby. I would go to thrift stores and dig through the racks with the hopes of finding something cool to wear out dancing that night. Over the years, though, it has becoming an all consuming 'task' to find anything that I can afford and want to wear. I have to travel to other cities/states, get up at the crack of dawn to go to a swap meet, and take the risk of a bed bug infestation at estate sales just to get a decent 50s dress!! Its become a job just to clothe myself!!! ;-)
(Again, I am over simplifying matters here and being slightly fecetious).
I was reading a post on Ooh La La Vintage Swap and Sell on Facebook the other day that got me thinking. The post was about a seller that had been kicked off Ebay and Etsy for selling shoddy, overpriced, misrepresented items. The topic strayed to how hard it is for dealers to find stock and that because they paid so much for an item, they then have to turn around and charge even more for it just to make a profit. They also figure in the cost and time it took to find those items, plus time and expense to mend, photograph, and list them. It makes sense. I was doing it for a while and it does take a lot of time, effort and money to hunt down vintage nowadays. Though I do not agree with the outrageous prices, it got me thinking...
What happens when the well runs dry? In other words, what happens when all the vintage is gone???
"We'd rather go naked than wear modern clothes!!!"
That sounds crazy right? Even when all the vintage from estate sales is bought up there will always be collectors willing to sell off their items. Sure they will. But what did they pay for that item? And how much will they in turn charge for it? Lets see... If dealer A buys a vintage dress from dealer B for $75 with the intent to turn around and sell it, how much do they charge? It looks to me like they charge at least double. So now that dress is $150. Then what happens when buyer A decides to sell that same dress a year later. How much will buyer B pay for it? $200-250??? In my opinion that is outrageous. Though I am not really here to debate the price of vintage (because yes, it is worth what someone is willing to pay for it, blah, blah, blah...), it does worry me. If the price of vintage continues to rise in this way not only will the collectors not be able to buy it, but the sellers will no longer be able to sell it. Meaning, they will then have to offer those items at a discount just in order to sell them, which will eat into their profit margin. If that continues they will quite buying and selling vintage entirely!
Would you pay $380 for this suit??? I wouldn't. I wonder why the seller thinks it is worth that much.
Now onto my more disturbing thought. What happens when there really is no more wearable vintage clothing out there??? These clothes that we love are already 50-80 years old and will, no matter how well they are made, eventually fall apart. I am having to mend and re-mend my dresses and I eventually know that some of them will just fall apart. I have a few pieces from the 20s, 30s and 40s that have literally disintegrated. It makes me really sad but it is just a fact of clothing: it will eventually fall apart. I am already seeing a huge decline in the amount of actual vintage out there in the world. I see more and more "50s style" garments out there, some of them being pawned off as the real thing, because of this very reason.
Click the link for the full description. The person is selling it as a real vintage dress from the 50s.
So my question to you, my dear readers, is what will you do when you can no longer find/afford vintage clothing? Will you buy repro? Take up sewing? Or just start shopping at the mall???
I know for me, one thing I do is I rarely ever sell anything from my personal collection. I still have the very first vintage dress I ever bought. It still fits and I still love it. I had to replace the zipper in it but damn do I love it! I know people that buy things, wear them once, then turn around and sell it. Even at my most financially despair I try not to sell my most fabulous pieces. I still have all my Hawaiians, my bakelite bangles, my drawer full of halter tops and shorts, and lucite purses. If I sell something it is only because it is too big (too small I can squeeze into/loose weight, but I have no plans on gaining weight, so if its too big and can't easily be taken in...its gotta go!!), or is unflattering on me. I don't care how much I can get for my vintage halter tops, or my Fred Perlberg dress, or my Shaheen two piece sarong set. The thought of selling them does not appeal to me because I know what I paid for them (not much!), and I know that if I sold them I will never again find something like it at a reasonable price. They are treasures to me!
"50's" Deadstock Hawaiian Dress
I had this dress in purple and in blue. I sold the purple and turned the blue into a two piece. Why is it now worth so much more than the $25 I paid for the purple one 10 years ago?? And again, we have an item being sold as 50s that is not. I may be wrong, but isn't this convertible dress from the 60s or 70s???
I guess I could start buying more repro. Whirling Turban, Trashy Diva, Bettie Page (among others) really are making nice reproduction items. It isn't all stretchy and cheap like it used to be. I do have some issues with repro though: its more common so more people will own that same piece and it can be expensive, just like vintage, so I would rather buy the real thing. At the end of the day I prefer vintage because I know that, for the most part, no one else will be wearing the same thing I am, and chances are I didn't pay much for something that I , hopefully, look amazing in.
So I guess I am wanting to start a bit of a discussion here. What are your thoughts about the current cost of vintage, whether you are a seller or a buyer? Do you feel that it is too high, or is it fair? Do you find yourself buying more repro, or would you rather pay the extra money for the real thing?And what about those of you that make a living selling vintage??? What do you base your prices on? And if you can't find real vintage, will you venture into 80s and 90s clothing? Or do something else all together?