Coming Full Circle Vintage Style
inOctober 29, 2012 - 8:56am
One of the coolest things about selling vintage is witnessing the changes in styles especially when something makes a comeback. Few sellers could have anticipated the resurgence of the late-60s and 1970s fashions or more of us wouldn't have passed over polyester on our hunts last decade! When a garment sells that my older sisters or I would have worn, I can't help but be surprised and a wee nostalgic. Meanwhile, when I think of the toys I could have bought as a kid like all those darn Star Wars action figures - I want to kick myself! Oh well, no one has a crystal ball.
When I started in this business, post-60s vintage wasn't exactly on my buy list. Victorian was coming off it's 1980/90s highs giving way the more sought after decades of the 1920s to 1940s. Yet during this time there was also a market shift toward mod/retro clothing among buyers with the intent to wear and not necessarily collect. Steam punk is a prime keyword for the struggling Victorian market that attracts young followers who actually want to wear those crazy aviator goggles.
Now this is coming full circle vintage style. It's hard to believe it's me saying, "Hey, I used to wear that!" Few things make you wonder more where the years went. I never felt this as much as recently when I sold an early 1970s nylon quilted robe. Remember those? They were almost always in neutral or pastel colors, lace trimmed, two pockets, floor length with a button-up front and marketed to young women or junior miss in those days. To refresh your memory, the top photo is a listing from the 1969 Sears Wish Book catalog - and if you're reading this you probably have fond memories of those!
I've sold several of these robes but I never gave them too much thought until this recent sale. You see, every Christmas for years grandma gave us four sisters a robe wrapped with more scotch tape than paper and never boxed so we always knew what they were. It was a tradition, we'd rip apart the paper, reach into the right pocket, grab the $50 bill stashed there, thank grandma and promptly hang them in our closets until ma gave them away. The robes weren't as popular into the 1970s but you know, grandma just kept right on buying them for us into the early 1980s.
Now this made me think - if we never wore the robes could this be the reason I find them in fantastic condition - some even with original tags? Had to admit, it made sense and also made me laugh; seems us girls weren't alone in preferring our less frilly (and itchy) cotton pjs. As I was prepping that robe for shipment all I could think of was grandma. The family just had a memorial service for her which made it all the more bittersweet; bitter over the guilt for never wearing her gifts but sweet because she gave them with love and always made sure to choose different colors for all of us. Being the baby of the bunch, mine was usually pink and looking at this 1972 Sears listing now I know where she got the idea!
It really is fun watching new generations embrace old styles. I've always felt the vintage market is driven by four kinds of buyers; the investor who looks for big ticket items like fine art, the collector who buys to add to a private collection and is unaffected by trends, the buyers who want to reconnect with their childhoods and finally, this newer trendy buyer who looks for vintage to wear or upcycle.
My shop appeals mostly to the collector and those looking for wearable vintage but I do find more now than ever people are drawn by the nostalgia of wanting what they grew up with. I know this firsthand because I'd give anything today to unwrap just one more robe from grandma.
Written by Rita Zappitelli
Falls Avenue Vintage Fashion on Ruby Lane
Please visit Falls Avenue on Ruby Lane for a large selection of men's and women's vintage fashions and accessories.
*Ads courtesy of this wonderful free site site devoted to preserving vintage Christmas catalogs which can be viewed cover to cover. Link, click here