What you should be paying for Vintage & Pre-Loved clothes and how to tell when you're being ripped off.
With the popularity of the second hand clothing market set to surpass the fast fashion industry by 2030, the pre-loved fashion boom is showing no signs of slowing down - and of course Chillie London are here for it, obviously.
But like all industries which are growing rapidly and becoming more in-demand, it's bound to attract people who are out to make a quick buck. And with the widely varying price-points across vintage shops, independent boutiques, reselling apps and marketplace websites often times it's difficult to know whether or not the garment you're buying is actually worth it, or if it's even genuine vintage.
Vintage and pre-loved aren't mutually exclusive - which is something to remember when searching for your next buy. Everyone has a different interpretation of the word 'vintage'. So called 'True Vintage' is widely defined as pre-21st century; Vintage pieces can span eras from the 1920's to the 90's - or some others argue 1900's to 1970's - with anything earlier than that being considered antique.
The general rule of thumb is the older the piece the more expensive it is as there's less of it and the market is far more competitive. Whereas pre-loved is more loosely defined as anything you're not buying brand new or from it's original seller.
So, is buying newer pieces bad? Quite the contrary - sometimes the older 'True Vintage' pieces can be less accessible. Not only do newer pieces cater to a much wider range of budgets but when looking at older pre-1980's garments it becomes increasingly more difficult to find pieces which fit contemporary body shapes and sizes. Which, unless you're built vaguely like a Hedi Slimane-era Celine model obviously isn't going to work for everyone.
Since there's a huge range of price-points across the pre-loved industry - people will often mistakenly compare the prices of vintage pieces to clothes being sold by mainstream and fast fashion brands - when in reality the pricing for second hand is a whole different story and there's no one-price-fits-all model.
When you're in the market for some new garms and see a super cool pre-loved piece, but then look at the price-tag and think it seems a bit steep - there's a few things to consider before you start accusing the seller of daylight robbery. Am I buying from a small business? If the answer is yes it's likely that all those pieces were hand sourced by a single person or small team (as opposed to larger vintage shops and websites who blind buy pieces in bulk) which if you haven't ever had the pleasure of doing it, is incredibly hard work, so that gets majorly factored into the price.
Ask yourself: how old is the piece? Is it designer or a known brand? Is it in mint condition? Barely worn? real leather, silk, velvet, cotton? Will I wear it a lot? and most importantly, is is going to last? If you're still unsure whether or not something is worth the price then do a bit of web sleuthing - google the brand or look at other vintage sellers who have similar pieces. You never know you might have actually stumbled upon
So, when can I tell you tell if you're being way overcharged? Well unfortunately Vintage often get's used as a blanket term for basically anything not brand new - and it's easy enough to mistake newer pieces for those older more higher-priced vintage ones and end up paying top dollar before realising your newest purchase is actually only a couple of years old or it's just simply not in good enough condition to warrant the price-tag - especially when you're buying online. Like we said, there's nothing wrong with buying newer pre-loved pieces, but what's not on it paying those 'true vintage' prices.
One way to avoid misleading purchases is to shop IRL, feel the garment and talk to the person selling it, the more you buy the more of a feel you'll get for average price points and have pieces in your wardrobe to compare potential purchases to. But don't discount the internet entirely, not only is it super convenient but there a massive range of pieces across it (and some real bargains if you look for them)- build a trusted list of sellers and follow vintage boutiques on social and build on your knowledge there. Any good vintage sellers first priority will always be keying other people to the amazing world of pre-loved fashion and not just a smash and grab, but make enough cash in the process to sustain our passions.
So as always, buy what you love, shop smart, support small businesses and wear pre-loved!