What’s going on with vintage clothing?
It was back in the late 1990s that the term “vintage clothing “first came into use. No longer did people throw away old clothes. They were born again to wear, collect or display. Shops, antique shows and malls offered them for high prices.
Major auction houses such as William Doyle and Sothebys’ pioneered the field. Their emphasis was on celebrity owned or worn clothing and accessories. After all, who wouldn’t want to wear an early Chanel outfit or a gown owned by a famous movie star?
This shortly changed and separated into “celebrity “auctions and “Vintage clothing” auctions. Currently “hot” is on-the-field clothing worn by famous sports figures. Thousands of dollars for a single item is not unusual. Leslie Hindman auctions is one of several to hold vintage clothing auctions.
On special occasions collector parents dressed their children in Victorian or early 20th century clothing. However public tastes change as a market becomes glutted. Interest died down by 2010, except for a smattering of dedicated collectors.
I recently interviewed long time vintage clothing dealer, Mary Massing of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Her answers were interesting and surprising. As we spoke she was going through some of the bundles of textiles and damaged antique clothing she had collected over the years. The search was for items to be cleaned, restored and turned into an item of vintage clothing.
“While the vintage clothing market is back and healthy, there are some new trends. One thing todays new collectors are wearing and buying are mix and match restorations. I am talking about clothing that has had diverse items attached. For example, a skirt or blouse may have a piece of a decorative antique linen table cloth added to it. “As she pointed out, this is because part of the garment is either damaged or missing.
She also told me that over the years she, and other dealers, have bought bundles of vintage clothing that needed to be cleaned and otherwise be restored,
“It can be a decorative Victorian table cloth border or lacy doilies, anything goes.” Massing said. ““Added to part of a damaged skirt it makes a new fashion statement. It also creates a one-of-a-kind look.”
She held up a Battenburg lace table cloth with tears and stains. “In this shape it has no value. But add parts of it to a blouse or skirt and it becomes saleable. The textiles can be parts of fabrics from India or anywhere.”
In the antiques or vintage furniture market when this is done the piece is known as “a married piece.” Prices are lowered. Not necessarily so in the vintage clothing market.
Its’ a different story for todays’ young buyers. They like the sometimes colorful, gypsy look. They usually buy to wear, not collect. Prices are modest.
CLUES: Advice all depends on what you are looking for. If you are looking for an authentic vintage item checking is all important before paying too much. Are lace and buttons original? Or, has a dress been created around a single old collar or sleeves? If you are paying top dollar there should be no spots or holes. Or, just buy for wearable fun and wait for the next trend.
Do you have an antique item and need more information? For a personal reply send a photo, history, size and any signatures with self-addressed, stamped envelope and $25 to Anne Gilbert-Strawbridge, 1811 Renaissance Cmns. Blvd. #2319, Boynton Beach, FL 33426.