March 18, 2013

November 24, 2009 Vintage Vintage

Filed under: ◦Fabrics,◦,◦Vintage — sharon @ 11:45 pm

One of the things we’re often asked is “What is your definition of vintage?”

Obviously there’s no simple answer to this one. For years we used the cutoff date of about 1960 to describe fabric as vintage, about the time selvedge widths began to exceed 36 inches. But time goes on, and things change. Many of today’s homemakers weren’t even alive in the 1950’s, or even the 1960’s, and to them, fabric/clothing from as recently as the 1970’s or 80’s seems vintage enough. Often it’s those looks that become popular again, after a few decades have passed, that define any particular person’s idea of “vintage”. In keeping with that trend, we have decided that it’s long overdue for us to add 1960’s and 70’s fabrics to our selection at Sharon’s.

1960 fabric1960 fabric1960 fabric

Some time ago we added a few fabrics from the 50’s/60’s, some of the earlier flower-power and psychedelic prints, hopefully in the next weeks/months we’ll finally get a bit more added to our selection.

Another use of the V word has begun to irritate me more and more. It seems that many marketers out there, from small businesses to large, have realized that there is a market for vintage. Of course, it takes a special variety of insanity such as ours to try to make a business work based on only genuine vintage items; certainly a chain of retail mega-stores cannot find or maintain a marketable supply of true vintage or antique items. So of course the next best thing is newly made, vintage-style items. Take aprons, for instance. A Google search for vintage aprons will bring up a few sellers offering real aprons from the 1940’s and 50’s, but also among the top ten results are at least 4 or 5 companies offering vintage aprons – that are in fact vintage inspired but newly made, with a nod to retro design but often very contemporary. And there are more in the paid listings. Fine, it’s not that these items shouldn’t be available, there might never be enough real vintage to go around if everyone wants them. But to call them vintage aprons rather than retro or vintage-style aprons is at least a little bit deceptive to my mind. What do you think?

vintage apron1960 fabric

When you search for vintage aprons, are you hoping to find ones like these, from our stock at Sharon’s, or something new?

We looked up the term Vintage on the web and found, along with the definitions relating specifically to wine, where the “vint” in vintage comes from, a Wikipedia article on vintage clothing. In saying that vintage is a euphemism for old, they assert that vintage clothing generally dates from the 1920’s to the 1970’s. They also mention the term retro, which they interpret, as I do, to mean in a vintage style, harking back to earlier styles. I don’t believe that anyone refers to new clothing as vintage, no matter how retro the style may be. So somehow aprons have become an exception to this rule, I don’t know why, and I beg to disagree!

I should also mention that a search for vintage fabric also turns up new fabrics in great numbers; here, however, most sellers have the grace to use the term vintage reproduction fabrics, though some few do not. Precision in language is not something for which the internet will receive a high grade.

1 Comment »

  1. 1.I couldn’t agree more. I buy a lot of vintage fabric online (eBay) and so many sellers put the word vintage in their title even when the fabric they’re selling is new reproduction. I’ve had to revise the way I search to filter out all the new stuff and I find the whole thing frustrating. And not entirely honest.

    As for aprons, I sell vintage ones on my website, too – real vintage ones. I don’t always know how old an apron
    is but I’ll always be honest about my guesses. And, if I ever decide to make aprons I’ll be careful to call them vintage-inspired as I do for most of my creations. There are markets for both kinds but I don’t think you should imply one is the other. Again, not entirely honest.

    I’ve always considered vintage to be 25 years or older, so I think it’s probably safe to call 60s and 70s fabrics
    vintage. Even if that makes me feel really old (I remember some of this stuff). With 60s fashions back in style, I definitely think there’s a market for it.

    Comment by janet — November 25, 2009 @ 1:19 pm

    Comment by sharon — March 18, 2013 @ 11:45 pm

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