Do you know your glossary?
Oh, you’ve heard it all before when it comes to the ground rules of vintage shopping. We know. But have you heard it straight from the horse’s mouth? Oslo Nights had a chat with vintage- and second hand storeowners spread around the city, and we proudly share our finds with you!
But first, just to be on the safe side, let’s walk through the basics. Do you know the difference between second hand and vintage? And what about third hand? What differentiates a design dress from a re-designed one? Does retro indicate that the garment in question is old?
Getting the terminology right
To carry the title “vintage”, the garment or item should pre-date the 1990’s. Newer items are usually referred to as “second hand”. Clothes from the beginning of the 1900’s or older can bask themselves in the “antique” category.
Nowadays “vintage” is used loosely, and often incorrectly. The fashion industry loves vintage, and it seems like every other chain store has its own “vintage collection”.
Some seem to prefer that the term “vintage” should only include apparel from designer brands. A YSL jacket from ’92 would for example be vintage, while a H&M jumper from the same year would be classified as second hand. The older the clothes get, the easier it is for the garment to pass as vintage.
Third hand clothes are second hand or vintage wear that have been altered in some manner. A dress transformed to a skirt or a jumper decorated with sequins. It’s basically an old piece of clothing that has received the touch of the current era.
The same goes for re-designed items, although this term usually refers to actual design pieces. That lovely Dior wedding dress from the 50s who has suffered through 40 years in an old attic, may need some altering to rid itself from a torn sleeve or a yellowing spot on the trim. Despite the fact that one usually wants to keep design items in their original form, circumstances could put you in a position where you have the choice of just throwing away those to-die-for Chanel trousers from your grandma, or simply re-designing them into a pair of contemporary shorts. Easy choice, huh?
Clothes labeled retro are not necessarily old, in fact, the term reflects more on the look of the garments. Retro t-shirts for example are more often than not new, but with a retro-style print, or a worn look.
All this terminology is not really important of course. The important thing about vintage, second hand or whatever you want to call it, is that it gives you an opportunity to wear something different than your neighbor without going bankrupt, and without contributing to an industry based on sweat-shops, cheap materials, and an in general un-sustainable way to go about your business.
(Well, let me correct myself for a second. It is definitely possible to ruin yourself buying vintage wear. In fact, some designer items may even be more expensive than the current stuff the brand makes, simply because it’s more rare.)
Now, lets get to the core of this article. Where can you get the pièce de résistance for your wardrobe here in Oslo? Your dying to know, right? Oh, you’ll have to wait just a little longer. We’ll share our secrets with you in part 2 of your rough guide to vintage -available in a few days.
Psst…while you’re waiting: From the 12th to the 13th of May, the kooky, cute, whimsical and magnificent shop Flashdance will have a pop up store at Grüners Gate 11. The clothes are mainly 80s and 90s. Think M.I.A , Lady Gaga and Rihanna playing dress-up at Disneyland while drinking pink champagne. Yes. Flashdance is that good.
Flashdance used to have a store located at Posthallen, but while we’re eagerly waiting for Monica Johansen to yet again bless us with her fantastic vintage finds you can still find the shop online at www.flashdancevintage.no.
To wrap it all up, a little vintage dictionary
Vintage: Clothes made before 1990.
Antique: Attire pre-dating the 1920s.
Second hand: Basically, all used garments are second hand, and this includes vintage clothes too.
Third hand: Second hand clothes altered in some way, to give it that up-to-date look.
Re-design: Similar to third hand, but more commonly used to describe actual design pieces that have been refashioned.
Retro: A word generally used to describe the look of clothes, not the era of production
Words and photos: Therese Nordhus Lien