Fashion feature: Charity versus Vintage


SWL reporter Seema Hakim examines whether the trend for vintage clothes is declining.


By Seema Hakim

Vintage has become a massive craze over the last few years, with high street chains such as Topshop also introducing their own vintage line.

I also joined into the craze, visiting fairs and constantly shopping in the vintage capital, Brick Lane.

More recently, however, I have started to question the true appeal of vintage and whether it is losing its demand.

More and more items being sold in vintage shops arrive from the 1990s and the early 2000 period. Can these really be considered vintage? In my opinion, vintage is old, and old is at least an age of 30 years (in clothing and accessories).

When I look for vintage, I tend to frantically go through hundreds of rails, trying to find retro designs from at least the 1960s, seeking out grotty leather jackets, mid-length polka dot dresses and fluorescent skirts and desperately hoping that they will fit me.

More often than not, most vintage shoppers are pleasantly surprised with what they can find, but perhaps we should be more cautious with how we spend our cash.

If the 1990s is considered retro, then shouldn’t charity shops be considered as the new retro store?

It is amazing what you can find. It can sometimes be more time consuming, going through random pieces of junk to find a golden buy. But the basic point is you can find an item of a retro style for a smaller fee which is actually going to a good cause!

When you find that dress that you’ve envisioned for ages for a peanut of a price, you suddenly realise how worthwhile charity shops can be. Plus there’s nothing better than knowing you’ve found a bargain. Especially when you know, as an ex-vintage lover, that the same piece would have cost a lot more in a trendy retro spot.

A recent purchase of mine includes a second hand M&S trench coat for a small sum of £10 from a British Heart Foundation shop in Wimbledon. A similar coat on one online vintage shop would have put me down by an extra £30.

Another example was an argyle skirt in chocolate which I picked up for four pounds! A similar skirt is being sold on Etsy for £12. It may not be much of a price difference, but in the current economic climate it is true when they say, “Every Penny Counts”.

Some may argue that the difference in price reflects the quality of the item, as those in a charity shop may have been worn a lot more by the previous owner. Giorgio Armani himself said, “The difference between style and fashion is quality.” But with vintage vs. charity, this statement is almost void. Most of the time there is no difference, and if there is, it’s simply because the item is not actually vintage. Instead, it’s inspired by the trend.

In my opinion, the one real difference between charity and vintage is the fact that those who give away their items to the latter are more often than not paid for what they give. On the other hand, charity is based on the good will of a person wanting to give to an important cause.

I don’t know about you but I’m very happy spending on a good cause (even if it is a little bit) and receiving a great buy out of it!

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