Why is Vintage Fashion so Expensive?

Posted on 17 May 2020
By Dana Andersen
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Vintage fashion is recommended for everything from saving the planet, to finding your own style, but once you start looking for vintage pieces you may be left with a new question.

Why is it so expensive? A t-shirt that probably cost less than £10 when it was originally sold, is suddenly marked up to £50, and that skirt that would go so well with it is definitely not worth £75, right?

Just like a paper you worked on might get a lower grade than an ordered paper, you just have to write do my paper on the line. It seems unfair, doesn’t it?

As with most things, it depends on where you shop. Great vintage finds can happen at car boot sales and charity shops, and only cost you a pound or two, so why is it once they’re being sold by a vintage store, who probably found them in a similar scenario, their price tag inflates so drastically? There are a few reasons behind it, the big one being how most online stores treat the clothes they find.

The gorgeous dress that you’re trying to justify £60 on, probably didn’t start out so gorgeous. Many owners of vintage clothing boutiques find their products in less than good condition. The process between ‘old clothing found in a musty attic’ to ‘beautiful item that you need to try on’ can be quite an arduous one, leaving you to pay for the time, and materials, used in fixing it up, the original cost of the item, and a little extra so that the shop is actually making a profit.

Most shops clean every item they buy, which already adds time, and cost, to the item. It must be washed in the correct way, to ensure there’s no further damage, usually meaning dry cleaned. Then, any damage the clothing has faced in its 10+ years of life needs to be fixed. New buttons, linings, hems, anything thats damaged needs to be fixed in a way that still feels authentic to the item, and won’t be obvious to the buyer. This again eats up time for whoever is doing it, and adds to the money spent on the item.

Many vintage stores and boutiques source their items from other countries, a lot of UK based stores buy from America. The price per item is usually lower, but the added price of shipping the items means each item will have to earn slightly more profit. Vintage American clothes also have an added amount of ‘trendiness’, making it more worthwhile to buy from there, and have it shipped over, since it automatically can be sold for a higher price, earning more profit.

Finally, the brand of the item also has a huge impact on the price. If you’re happy to go with unbranded clothing, or clothing from unknown and forgotten brands, the price will be significantly lower than if you’re a huge fan of Dickies, Gucci or Channel.

If you want a low cost, vintage shopping experience, you’ll be looking for items that haven’t been cleaned, haven’t been fixed in any way, and aren’t by a recognisable brand. It does mean you’ll have to do those things yourself, which adds to the time you’ll have to spend on each item, and possibly extra costs for additional material to fix things, but it does significantly lower the money you’ll be paying out.

Vintage stores and boutiques have high price tags for a reason, and though its fair to say not everyone can afford those prices, its easy to understand why their prices are in the range that they are, once you know the work thats gone into them behind the scenes.