The Value of Vintage

I have this cute Charlotte Ronson sheer coral button-down with cream lace. When Lauren interviewed me for Fashionista, she asked if it was vintage. A few minutes later, I asked her if her sunglasses were vintage, and they turned out to be Karen Walker. Ha: I, too, have a pair of Karen Walker sunglasses that someone once thought were vintage. I suddenly realized I have two relatively expensive designer items in my wardrobe that, apparently, every person I meet thinks is “vintage,” which, for some reason, my brain has equated with “cheap.” I felt a little annoyed. I wondered, is this a risk I’m taking every time I buy something vintage-inspired? And more importantly, is it really worth paying designer prices for something people presume to be vintage?
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Dhani Mau
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I have this cute Charlotte Ronson sheer coral button-down with cream lace. When Lauren interviewed me for Fashionista, she asked if it was vintage. A few minutes later, I asked her if her sunglasses were vintage, and they turned out to be Karen Walker. Ha: I, too, have a pair of Karen Walker sunglasses that someone once thought were vintage. I suddenly realized I have two relatively expensive designer items in my wardrobe that, apparently, every person I meet thinks is “vintage,” which, for some reason, my brain has equated with “cheap.” I felt a little annoyed. I wondered, is this a risk I’m taking every time I buy something vintage-inspired? And more importantly, is it really worth paying designer prices for something people presume to be vintage?
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I have this cute Charlotte Ronson sheer coral button-down with cream lace. When Lauren interviewed me for Fashionista, she asked if it was vintage. A few minutes later, I asked her if her sunglasses were vintage, and they turned out to be Karen Walker. Ha: I, too, have a pair of Karen Walker sunglasses that someone once thought were vintage.

I suddenly realized I have two relatively expensive designer items in my wardrobe that, apparently, every person I meet thinks is “vintage,” which, for some reason, my brain has equated with “cheap.” I felt a little annoyed. I wondered, is this a risk I’m taking every time I buy something vintage-inspired? And more importantly, is it really worth paying designer prices for something people presume to be vintage?

I wasn’t actually that disappointed that my Charlotte Ronson blouse was mistaken for vintage (because I got it for $40 at a sample sale). However, my Karen Walkers were the first pair of sunglasses I spent more than $30 on and I couldn’t help but feel disappointed (perhaps in myself for paying so much) when someone assumed that something I paid a lot of money for was some great (cheap) vintage find.

When comparing vintage-inspired to real vintage, there are definitely pros and cons to both. With real vintage, you take pride in the fact that you’ve found a cute little piece of history. Your ‘80s floral romper is actually from the early ‘80s, while everyone else’s is from Opening Ceremony or Urban Outfitters. You also paid less than them and your piece is virtually one-of-a-kind, as opposed to instantly recognizable as ___ designer or ___ mass retailer.

However, sometimes that designer or mass retailer just happens to make the perfect vintage-inspired blouse that you’ve never been able to find at your local thrift store or vintage shop. You would have had to spend hours combing through smelly, disorganized racks, when the exact item you want is hanging neatly in a nice store, brand new, in your exact size. It's so easy, but you have to admit, it's not the real thing.

Ironically, if you were to compare it to the age-old luxury vs. knock off debate, it’s almost like vintage is the luxury, while vintage-inspired designer is the knock off, even when the latter is often more expensive.

When it comes to buying vintage-inspired vs. real vintage, do you have a preference? Do you think it's worth it to pay designer prices for something that looks vintage?