For avid “Vintageholic-ers,” understanding the secrets to distinguish between authentic and counterfeit items is essential to avoid making purchasing mistakes. Not every old item qualifies as vintage, and if you’re someone addicted to shopping for vintage treasures, mastering these techniques is a must.
The Y2K wave has brought a vibrant resurgence to the vintage shopping scene, making it more lively and thrilling than ever before. In the past, buying vintage items wasn’t a pastime for everyone due to concerns about personal hygiene. However, in the current era of fashion, where past trends are making a comeback, the quest for vintage items has become more appealing than ever. Contributing to this resurgence is the enthusiastic endorsement by “It” girls like Bella Hadid and the Jenner sisters. They have breathed new life into designs considered outdated, instantly making them trendy and fashionable.
Memorable moments, such as Kendall Jenner confidently strolling down the street in a collection of Jean Paul Gaultier dresses sourced from reputable vintage stores or Kylie Jenner gracing the red carpet in designs resurrected from the archives of renowned fashion houses, are etched in the fashion world’s memory. Additionally, as environmental concerns take center stage in the fashion industry, opting for vintage or secondhand items has become an effective measure.
At first glance, buying and collecting vintage items may seem like a piece of cake, but for fashion enthusiasts, the challenge lies in distinguishing between genuine treasures and deceptive replicas. Not every item displayed in vintage stores holds the coveted status of a high-value vintage design. It requires a discerning eye and accumulated knowledge from various sources. If fashion aficionados wish to avoid wasting their money on counterfeit items with exorbitant price tags claiming to be “vintage,” here are some key points to remember when stepping into a vintage store or contemplating a purchase from an online platform.
Checking Information on the Tag
One of the initial and easiest steps before deciding to invest in a vintage piece is to look at and examine its tag. The tag, beyond the brand name, provides customers with valuable information about size, designer, location, and production time. These crucial clues can help you verify the authenticity and actual value of the vintage item. Be cautious with tags that have the phrase “one size fits all” as it became popular in the 1980s and remains common today but was less prevalent in earlier eras.
Pay Attention to Typography on the Tag
Typography or font style, though a small detail, is significant for fashion enthusiasts to authenticate the origin and value of the vintage item they have their eyes on. First and foremost, check if the brand name is spelled correctly. Additionally, many clothing brands altered their font styles during specific periods. For instance, Celine tags from the 1960s, under the creative direction of Phoebe Philo, once appeared as Céline. By identifying changes in font style on the tag, you can also pinpoint the production time. Art Deco fonts were prevalent in the 1940s and 1950s, but a few decades later, manufacturers began using round and bold fonts.
“Made in China” – Unreliable Text
For genuinely high-value vintage items, especially from renowned fashion houses, you’ll typically see references to “Paris,” “Milan,” or “London” – the brand’s place of origin, rather than where the garment was produced. Therefore, if the tag includes “Made in China,” despite meeting other reputable authenticity criteria, you should think twice before making a purchase.
Authentic vintage clothing is often crafted from high-quality materials such as silk or wool, and meticulous attention is given to every small detail in the sewing process. Almost always, these materials are 100% pure. For example, if it’s wool, the garment must be made from 100% wool without blending with other impurities. Hence, these items not only defy the test of time with timeless designs but can also endure with quality material. Additionally, fashion enthusiasts should remember that synthetic materials like polyester weren’t commonly used until the mid-20th century.
The Importance of Stitching and Needlework
The technique and quality of stitching are crucial details that help fashion enthusiasts decide on vintage purchases more easily and quickly. This criterion is particularly authentic for items such as handbags. Since these are products that emphasize craftsmanship rather than mass production like clothing, the stitches on these items are unique (compared to other brands) and guaranteed to be the most meticulous. For instance, Hermès leather goods are characterized by double stitching and saddle stitching across the entire leather surface.
Pay Attention to Metal Buttons and Zippers
Small details like buttons or zippers are reliable authenticity indicators revealing the durability of the item. To ensure a durable and consumer-safe product, attention to small details such as stitch types, clasps, buttons, or metal zippers is crucial. These small details also contribute to determining the price by vintage buyers or shop owners or informing buyers about the age of the item. Plastic zippers, for example, were only used in the 1960s (metal zippers were used before the post-war period). Vintage buttons were intricately crafted and more substantial compared to contemporary styles.