Vintage shopping is a bit of a secret in the fashion world. True fashion lovers understand the artistic and historical qualities of vintage clothing and accessories. Not only that, they know it is more than just a dressing style. It is a lifestyle choice with an entire industry devoted to it. However, the average person looks at vintage shopping and wrongly assumes it is merely for acquiring one-off clothing at discount prices. Although this might be true with some thrift stores, it is not true with all of them. There are some higher-end vintage outlets which truly have some amazing garments from the past.
There is not a clear consensus on the ideal vintage style. But all the insiders of the industry would at least agree that vintage is still relevant in the modern age. There are even luxurious and reputable fashion designers who look upon vintage shops and sources for direction in their own creations. For instance, a fashion designer will purchase a cut, print, and/or patterned item just to be inspired creatively when working on their next collections. Some people will have sentimental reasons for obtaining certain vintage fashion pieces while others just focus on their style. It could be the exclusiveness, excitement of discovery, classic craftsmanship, or authenticity which drives continued interest in vintage. Regardless, vintage continues to rise in popularity. There are no set rules to follow when looking for a suitable vintage shop.
Just to help you out, we have compiled a list of tips to enhance the experience of looking for awesome vintage shops.
Tip # 1) Understand the Difference Between a Thrift Store and Vintage Shop
People often use the words “vintage” and “thrift” interchangeably. But there is a difference between the items found in a vintage shop and the items found in a thrift store. Mainly, this difference has to do with age. For example, a vintage piece of clothing is often considered to be 25 years of age or older. The exact number of years which defines “vintage” is still debated, but it is around this age. As for the items in a thrift store, these don’t necessarily need to be older items. They can be any items that are used or preowned. Sometimes you might find a vintage item in a thrift store, but it won’t be advertised as such. It will just be buried in the pile of other items in the store, so you’ll have to accidentally come across it.
Also, vintage shops typically have employees who are knowledgeable about their items for sale. They can give you a whole set of details about a particular piece of clothing, such as its history, age, how they maintain it, and where they got it. You won’t find these kinds of employees in a thrift store. Those employees can only tell you where things are located in the store and how much they cost. That’s about it.
Tip # 2) Have Patience
Whether you’re in a vintage shop or thrift store, the items in them were not produced recently. The last time those items were mass produced, it was during a different era in history. If you find a particular piece of clothing that you like in one of these stores, you are probably not going to find a duplicate of it anywhere else. Everything from the colour to the style and size will be impossible to find elsewhere. That is why you should purchase an item if it appeals to you.
The shopping experience is not always convenient, though. You’ll be spending hours squeezing yourself in between narrow aisles and searching through endless racks of clothing items. If you’re lucky, you’ll find one signature piece of clothing that you’re desperately searching for. This takes a lot of time and patience, which not everyone has. Be prepared to maintain your patience if you’re serious about finding signature pieces.
Tip # 3) Ship on Weekdays
Most people shop on the weekends, even at thrift stores and vintage shops. For this reason, you’ll want to avoid shopping on the weekends so that you don’t need to tolerate the overcrowding and lack of inventory in the stores. However, on weekdays, it is the perfect time to shop because this is when store owners restock their shelves. There will also be fewer people shopping during the week as well. This makes it the ideal time to hunt for those signature items you’re looking for without the competition being there.
Try to visit the stores early in the morning. That is when the best items will be available to grab. If it is a peak period, store owners will fill their display windows with discounted items, new items, and noteworthy items. The visual appearance created here is meant to attract more customers during these special times. As a vintage item hunter, go into the stores during peak periods and start shopping from the back wall first. There will likely be fewer people there and hopefully, you’ll find some good items that haven’t been picked up yet.
Tip # 4) Build a Relationship
Become friendly with the store owners by introducing yourself to them. The owners might share their knowledge with you about vintage garments that they don’t share with everyone. Plus, if it looks like they’re enthusiastic about vintage items like these, then it is a sign they know what they’re talking about and that you can trust them. As you continue to be a regular customer and refer your friends to them, the owners may reward you generously someday. Perhaps they will hold certain vintage items exclusively for you to browse through before anyone else does.
Tip # 6) Have Cash Available
Vintage shops traditionally accept cash only. Many of them do not accept credit card or debit card payments. Fortunately, this has changed a lot over the last decade or so. However, you don’t want to risk losing out on a designer piece of clothing because you don’t have cash available to purchase it. So, be sure to make that trip to the ATM before going into a vintage shop.
Remember that vintage shops are not like big retail stores which have several of the same items. If you find one item in a vintage shop that you like, there is likely not going to be another one anywhere else. Plus, they are not going to hold it for you while you run out to the ATM and get cash. As a collector, you need to be ready to make a quick deal or else someone might come along and snatch that item.
Tip # 7) Be Wary of Imitations
If you’re paying premium prices for vintage brand name items, you’ll want to be sure they are authentic and not knock-offs. Look for certain signs to determine if you’ve come across a copy or not. First, touch the fabric and see how it feels. High-quality fabrics are only used with designer pieces. If it feels thin and skimpy, then it probably is authentic. Just to be sure, check the inside tags of the pieces and see if they give information about the material, care procedures, etc. Many imitations won’t include these tags. Also, if there are any logos and trademarks on the clothing, make sure they match the brand’s logos and trademarks precisely. Use your smartphone to research this information in real time.