Before we get into my tips for identifying vintage, let’s talk about the definition of vintage. In order for something to be vintage, it must be at least 20 years old. However, you can have new vintage (ie: something from the 90s) or old vintage (something from the 1930s). And there are different techniques for identifying old vs new vintage. The newer a vintage garment is, the harder it may be to identify (mainly because it’s much closer in age and construction to contemporary clothing). But I do have some tried and true tips for helping you figure out if something is truly vintage, or merely vintage inspired.
- Look at the logo on the tag. If you don’t recognize the brand name, it might be vintage. If you do recognize the name, but the logo is different than what the brand is currently using, you may have found a vintage piece from a contemporary brand (this is always fun). Also check the label for Union insignias or the words “Union Made”.
- Flip the label over to see where the garment was made. Most older vintage is made in the US (if you’re in the states). We didn’t start majorly offshoring clothing production until the 90’s. But remember, newer vintage (80s/90s may have been made in China, India, or Pakistan).
- Check the fabric composition tag. Fabric blends tend to be modern (ex: 20% rayon, 80% linen), whereas 100% composition fabrics may be vintage. This is not a hard rule, as many modern brands also construct with unblended fabrics.
- Look for unique construction details and/or handmade sew jobs. If it’s handmade it’s probably vintage. You can usually tell if something is handmade if the fabric edges (inside a seam) are zig zag trimmed. This means they were cut with pinking shears.
- Check for a metal zipper. Most clothing made after 1965 will have a plastic zipper. Many vintage pieces have higher quality hardware in general, so keep an eye out on the buttons, snaps, and clasps.
Those are my top 5 tips for identifying true vintage. Do you have any that you swear by? Share them in the comments below!