Saturday, August 15, 2009

How old is vintage?

This is a question that often perplexes me. I see references to the word vintage in many contexts and often in relation to things that I wore, maybe only 20 years ago. I guess if you are 25 that might be old to you but is it really vintage? 20 years ago takes us to 1989 - almost the beginning of the '90s. Has grunge actually become vintage or is it just an old fashion we remember. If it is hard to accept as vintage the styles I wore, it is even harder to accept my childrens old clothes as such.
I hear a real aversion to the fashions of the '80s but they may even be vintage and who knows that our children will not think of them as spectacular in a few years time. After all ABBA became fashionable long after it was popular! Maybe it is because I am so old (47 years young) but when I think vintage I think of things before my time like in the '50s and maybe just the '60s.
Does it really matter, is it even ethical, if you label a product you sell as vintage if it is only ten years old or do people have definite expectations? Has it just become a euphenism that serves to make anything old or used fashionable or acceptable again? Perhaps those offcuts of Sheridan sheeting that I used for my first patchwork class are actually vintage now, even though I only think of them as old fashioned and part of my history that I have moved on from. Maybe I am vintage. Scary.
And what is retro? Are they possibly the same or is there a distinction? I would love to know your thoughts on these matters.


  1. Hmmm, I've been mulling this one over. I believe that 'vintage' should only be applied to items 25 years or older. Of course that's going to start being weird as we get older because we might own things that we've loved and used for 25 years and now they're labelled vintage. My husband reckons that 'retro' applies to things that come back into fashion, whereas vintage just describes the age of something, not necessarily its popularity. I'm not sure myself...

  2. I like Gina's dh's idea of the difference between retro and vintage. :p

    I dunno...I can't pin what I think vintage is..but I guess, I think of it as something who's era has passed. Nineties stuff, we can still find around, and use pretty regularly. Eighties stuff, most of it is worn out and gone. Which totally pains me to admit...cause that was MY era. And I am NOT vintage!!!! :lol:

  3. Very good question. Vintage in the dictionary actually refers to wine, so in using the term vintage in reference to old items can be whatever you want it to be, I think. I think that whatever is not new, is in someway vintage. I probably wouldn't call things from this decade vintage, but I have been known to call things from the nineties vintage. In terms of selling these items, as long as you clarify it like "vintage '90's"
    then it's all good. I think retro is really anything that you would instantly recognise as '60's or '70's. Bright floral patterns etc.
    That's what I think anyway.

  4. Hey! Wiki says I wasn't too far off!! :p

    "Vintage clothing is a generic term for new or second hand garments originating from a previous era."

    Ooh, and

    "Retro, short for retrospective, usually refers to clothing that imitates the style of a previous era."

    Huh...learn something new everyday! :p

  5. Yes, I'm with you on this one.
    Anything I remember from high school (early 80's) just can't be vintage, can it? LOL

    I've just recently conceeded the 70's to be vintage only because those prints have made their way back into fashion.
    And I have always used the word "retro" in connection to a newly made item in the style of another era.

    Kimberly :)

  6. and just to confuse you even further, the term 'vintage' lierally means any thing that is indicative of that time. There fore, a new item can be termed 'vintage' as long as it represents the period it's from. So that's why it's used in wine, so the vintage is the actual year.

  7. Vintage is anything older than me. And I'm going to keep sticking to that as I become older and crotchety-er.


Thankyou for your kind thoughts. I appreciate and read everyone even though at times I may not be well enough to reply. Thankyou.