What's the difference between "vintage" and "vintage-inspired?"
Vintage fashion is something I’ve been fond of for a very long time.
That is why transitioning from creating beaded bookmarks to creating handmade pieces of vintage-inspired jewelry was a smooth one.
But what does “vintage-inspired” mean?
To be honest, it wasn’t until recently – about a year ago – that I realized that my own definition wasn’t so black and white.
I realized that the term “vintage” meant different things to different people - both professionals and day-to-day vintage enthusiasts.
While “vintage” may be defined differently from person to person, their definitions often harmonize.
Definitions are important.
Especially in the beginning when we are trying to figure out if what we mean is, in fact, what we are trying to say.
In this post, I’ll attempt to expand on the subject with the help of various sources around the internet.
What is "vintage?" (VIDEO)
Vintage In The Fashion Industry
Trusty Wikipedia defines “vintage” as a colloquialism commonly used to refer to all old styles of clothing.
This blog post titled “What Makes it Vintage? One Seller’s Thoughts.” written by Shannon Letizi from Shop We McGee explains:
The generally accepted industry standard is that anything made at least 100 years ago is "antique", anything made at least 20 years ago (nearly 2000!) is "vintage". That's an 80-year window which encompasses huge changes in the global fashion-scape.
Ashley Kane echoes that definition in a blog post published in liveaboutdotcom titled “What is the definition of Vintage Clothing?” She writes:
The term "vintage" is used to describe clothing between 20 and 100 years old that is also clearly representative of the era in which it was produced. It could be said that to be called vintage, the piece should strongly reflect styles and trends associated with that era.
Vintage Clothing Sizing
While we’re on the topic of sizing, it’s important to note that actual vintage sizes are quite different from modern sizes.
Basically, vintage sizes are at least four sizes smaller than current sizes, and the older the garment, the more you may need to adjust.
Notably, both Ashly Kane and Shannon Letizi work with clothes.
Vintage In Interior Design
In the YouTube video titled – One Kings Lane: What is Vintage? – several design professionals from One Kings Lane, a home décor and luxury furniture store, define “vintage” in their own words, and their definitions differ from those of Ashly Kane and Shannon Letzi.
It’s a great open word, “vintage.” You know, it really represents things that you find, the serendipity of the found object.
Peter Dunham, One Kings Lane Tastemaker
There isn’t sort of a one-line definition, and it does come down to – it’s a point of view. It’s about personality. It’s about an energy…
Malcolm Kutner, One Kings Lane Tastemaker
"Vintage" - My Definition
My definition of “vintage” is something that appears to be from a different era, something most likely cared for and used by someone of that time period.
I don’t expect it to be a certain amount of years old. Nor do I personally expect it to look a certain way or for it to be expensive.
Mostly, I want it to show signs of use and love.
With these definitions in mind, how would we answer the following questions?
- What is vintage fashion?
- What counts as vintage fashion?
I would argue that it depends.
Before committing to an answer, I would ponder over the following questions:
- When was this vintage item made?
- How representative of the era is this vintage piece?
- What about garments made from vintage fabric in modern times – would these pieces count as “vintage fashion”? (Shannon Letizi, who sells vintage clothing at Shop We McGee, posed this last question.)
Clearly, there is a lot to unpack when it comes to defining “vintage.”
I would argue that, ultimately, it comes down to how you define it.
What makes the most sense to you and your goal?
Home designers may be focused on establishing a feeling specific to an era rather than on recreating a space that perfectly matches the period.
In contrast, many of us fashion enthusiasts are determined to know and understand what period we are trying to recreate.
What is "vintage-inspired?"
Vintage-Inspired: Defined In The Fashion Industry
It may seem silly to pose this question.
Still, a few years ago, I looked up this definition because it seemed like an oxymoron when paired with the term “handmade.”
To me, the term “handmade, when used to describe a product, signified that it was made within the last few years.
In contrast, the term “vintage” meant something created in the past – handmade or not.
What I found when I tried to make sense of this term is that “vintage-inspired” is often synonymous with “modern vintage” or with “retro style.”
However, the definitions for each of these terms vary slightly and yet share a few commonalities. These include:
- Pieces are all made in modern times
- Pieces are generally made with modern equipment
- Pieces tend to be mass-produced in China
The popular vintage blog Vintage Dancer further defines “vintage-inspired” as “new vintage style clothing mostly from the 1930s to the 1970s.”
The writers at Wikipedia further observe that vintage clothing retains its value, and could even increase in value given that each garment is genuinely from a past era.
On the other hand, “vintage-inspired” items are generally more affordable and readily available in a wide range of sizes.
This is due to their mass production and lower quality.
Vintage-Inspired: Defined In Graphic Design
In an article by 99 Designs, a design platform, titled “Vintage design: tips and inspiration to master the trend,” writer Lindsay Kramer notes:
The term vintage is often understood to mean actual designs and items that were produced in the past, whereas retro is typically used to refer to modern designs that emulate these older designs.
I stand by my tagline.
I sell “vintage-inspired” pieces handcrafted by me.
Studying fashion history inspires my work.
As a result, there are no exact replicas but rather a lot of vintage inspiration.
These are not mass-produced pieces readily available to ship.
If they are ready to ship, it’s because I have carefully created a few extras, which is my process.
At the moment, my designs are strongly influenced by Mexican fashion and by 1920s – 1950s American fashion.
This could change in the future because the more I learn about fashion history, the more I fall in love with the elements of each era.
I hope you love my work and this article.
If you’d like to contact me, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.