Vintage Fashion Becomes Status Symbol

Discussion
Oct 19, 2010

By George Anderson

Nobody wants to wear hand-me-downs it seems unless they
have to pay for them in stores. A CNBC report said that a growing number
of celebrities in Hollywood are not finding what they want in their own closets
and going to vintage clothing shops to buy apparel and accessories.

Among the
celebrities going the second-hand … er, vintage route are Penelope Cruz,
Kirsten Dunst, Kate Moss and Sarah Jessica Parker.

“People have done that all along, but no one ever acknowledged it,” Ruth
von Witenberg Chernaik, co-owner of Out of the Closet, a vintage
shop in Bridgehampton, N.Y., told CNBC. “A few years ago, when
the celebrities starting admitting they wear vintage and it got legitimized
in a sense people started looking into vintage and saw the workmanship involved,
the attention to detail, and that the fashions themselves are much more interesting.”

Ms.
von Witenberg Chernaik said her business sees demands for particular types
of items as do new clothing shops.

“The young girls today just want something fun they can relate to, like
belts and jewelry, and this year we have more buyers looking at 1950s prom
dresses,” she
told CNBC. “We also sell a lot of Victorian tea dresses to brides
who don’t want the run-of-the-mill gown. Most of them are white, because
at that time unmarried girls had to wear white, so women today use them as
wedding dresses — perfect for beach weddings.”

Discussion Questions: How much more or less in demand do you expect vintage
fashion to become in the years ahead? Does vintage fashion represent an opportunity
for department stores and specialty apparel businesses to build incremental sales
and profits?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

11 Comments on "Vintage Fashion Becomes Status Symbol"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Dick Seesel
Guest
10 years 6 months ago

I can see vintage-inspired rather than actual vintage clothing becoming a trend if it’s inspired by celebs…but it’s hard to see the real thing taking off in department stores. Certainly “retro” (in one form or another) emerges every so often as a counterpoint to “modern” and the cycle tends to go back and forth. The question becomes, “Vintage from what era?” The ’70s look a whole lot different from the ’20s, after all. This ought to be an interesting trend to watch.

Carol Spieckerman
Guest
10 years 6 months ago

Vintage apparel has stayed in vogue for many years but has enjoyed a renaissance lately. No wonder; fashion is largely trendless (What is the hottest trend for fall? My point exactly), individuality is being stoked by social media and all manner of customization capabilities, and gently-used is now understood to be a margin opportunity for retailers (games and electronics). A perfect storm for vintage.

It would be smart for mainline retailers to integrate vintage offerings into assortments. Doing so would provide differentiation beyond what any proprietary brand could achieve!

Max Goldberg
Guest
10 years 6 months ago

Vintage clothing has been on a hot streak. Anyone with a teenage daughter knows this. My daughter has been buying vintage for years. Most vintage retailers are boutique operations. Some designers are making new clothing that looks vintage, and that’s about as close as most mainstream retailers are going to get to this phenomenon. I don’t see local Macy’s buying used clothing from consumers and then selling it as vintage. That’s better left to boutiques.

Bill Emerson
Guest
Bill Emerson
10 years 6 months ago

Vintage apparel is a nice, albeit small, business that’s been around for years. It speaks to a customer’s desire for something different from whatever current assortments are available. It is also typically a good value since it is deeply discounted from its original price, allowing aspirational customers the ability to own Chanel, Armani, etc.

Part of its appeal today is the fact that, with a tough and uncertain environment, most apparel manufacturers and retailers are understandably playing it ‘safe’. Vintage provides customers with something a little more edgy and unique at a good price.

As far as this becoming a big business, don’t count on it. To drive big numbers, there must be steady availability in a variety of sizes. Vintage is the exact opposite of this.

As Richard points out, the only way to drive meaningful volume is through “vintage-inspired” production. This is, however, an oxymoron since all new fashion is inspired by something that’s already been produced in an earlier era.

Doug Fleener
Guest
10 years 6 months ago

I recently lead a group of retailers on a tour of Newbury Street here in Boston. You can say the Newbury is sort of our Rodeo Drive. Or at least it was until the chain stores moved in.

There are now over five second hand clothing stores on Newbury Street. Ten years ago that would have been unheard of, but with the demand on vintage clothing and value I’m not surprised. I believe these stores are her to stay. The good news is that my bell bottoms are now worth more money!

Anne Howe
Guest
10 years 6 months ago
Bill Emerson makes a good point about the vintage sales trend being compromised by lack of availability of sizes. That said, hunting for vintage clothing, and especially accessories, fulfills a shopping need many consumers find lacking in traditional retail today. The satisfaction of the shopping “hunt” around the mall for products that are capable of providing “true shopper delight” is largely missing in traditional retail today. What many retailers fail to realize is that the thrill of the hunt is just as important to many fashion forward shoppers as owning and wearing what is gathered. I think Carol is right on the money with her suggestion that traditional retailers might do well to add some vintage “finds” in their stores. Accessories might be the perfect place to do that. The adorable vintage red Chanel bag I found for $5 at a boutique in South Carolina could have easily sold at Macy’s for way more than what I paid for it. And had I known Macy’s had a collection of very iconic vintage accessories, even if… Read more »
Dan Berthiaume
Guest
Dan Berthiaume
10 years 6 months ago

Fashion is cyclical, vintage was big in the early 90s with the popularity of grunge rock and as a reaction to the overstylized 1980s. Considering the general 1980s renaissance that has been occurring for the past several years, it’s not surprising that vintage is coming back again. It looks like Soundgarden and Alice in Chains are coming back at the right time!

Lee Peterson
Guest
10 years 6 months ago

It’s a sad day when new fashion is so poor that it gets trumped by things created decades ago. I ‘get’ that vintage is hot, but it always has been. The recent explosion of the movement, in my book, has more to do with the lack of fun new things to buy–for years.

Let’s face it, there are just too many MBAs and CFOs running the fashion world now. True merchants, where are you??? Rise up and keep vintage vintage!

Anne Bieler
Guest
Anne Bieler
10 years 6 months ago

Vintage clothing is another fashion direction that fits well with the more frugal mindset of today’s shoppers, recalling a time when clothing was meant to last for years and provide a bit of fun. This contrasts with the mass merchandising of latest “trends.”

Part of the fun of retro is the discovery in small boutiques and consignment or thrift stores, not translating well to department and larger venues. Interesting that it is considered fashion forward today, again!

Jerry Gelsomino
Guest
10 years 6 months ago

I would expect, if the vintage trend is so hot, that designers would begin designing vintage-look products. like mass produced antiques and torn, recycled look jeans, the market will be flooded! Chains of vintage stores will emerge and eventually the lack of authentic vintage will kill the concept. Too bad because it will also kill the entrepreneurs, the small boutiques who first saw an opportunity to remarket used fashion.

Someone else mentioned the lack of sizes available and the search required by true connoisseurs of vintage fashion — but that adds to the excitement of the “Treasure Hunt.”

Susan Rider
Guest
Susan Rider
10 years 6 months ago

Vintage will always be around but the definition may change. The clothing industry will hear this and re-create some pieces, they’re always looking for the next angle.

wpDiscuz

Take Our Instant Poll

How much more or less in demand do you expect vintage fashion to become in the years ahead?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...